When a Qatari sheikh asked a concierge at the Raffles Dubai hotel to deliver a present to his wife, the concierge nodded. “Of course, sir. What gift?”
A Rolls Royce Ghost, the latest model, the sheikh replied. To be delivered to Qatar by the following evening. The year was 2012. Harold Abonitalla, now chief concierge of Habtoor Palace, considers this his most challenging request in his 14 years as a concierge.
“I was in hot water,” he recalls. It was a Thursday evening, and with Friday being holy day in Dubai, most shops and services would be closed. He raced to the Rolls Royce showroom, and by 8pm he had collected the Ghost. But how would he transport the $300,000 vehicle 400 miles by sunset the following day?
Through his network of contacts he found a fellow concierge with an uncle who worked in cargo. The uncle helped him to secure a plane that could carry the car — at a price. “It’ll cost 350,000 dirhams (approximately $95,000),” Abonitalla told the guest. “Don’t give me rates, just do it,” said the sheikh.