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Lamborghini Urus wins ‘Best Luxury SUV Car’ award

Time: July 08, 2019  

Representatives of Samaco Automotive Company receive the award presented at a ceremony at the Jeddah Hilton.

The Lamborghini Urus has been named the “Best Luxury SUV Car” at the National Auto Award 2019, organized by PR Arabia in Jeddah, Samaco Automotive Company, the exclusive dealer of Lamborghini cars in Saudi Arabia, has announced.

The seventh edition of the awards, which were recently presented at a ceremony at the Jeddah Hilton, highlighted and recognized excellence in the Saudi automotive sector. The event was attended by a number of car distributors and specialists, in addition to members of the media.
The Lamborghini Urus won the award after being shortlisted through a public voting process.

The Urus features a 4.0 liter V8 twin-turbo engine delivering 650 hp at 6,000 rpm, maximum 6,800 rpm, and 850 Nm of maximum torque already at 2,250 rpm. With 162.7 hp/l, the Urus claims one of the highest power outputs in its class and the best weight-to-power ratio. The car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, and from 0 to 200 km/h in 12.8 seconds, with a top speed of 305 km/h, making it the world’s fastest 4X4 car. To meet various driving conditions, the Lamborghini Urus features a selection of driving modes, including strada (street), sport, corsa (track), terra (gravel), sabbia (sand), and neve (snow).

Despite the fact that the Lamborghini Urus is an SUV car, it is much lighter than most of its competitors. This is mainly because the Italian automaker used a lightweight body in an aluminum composite design, making the car light as well as strong.

The model’s rear-wheel steering technology provides enormous ease when driving either on low or high speed around the corners.

Mohammed Raffa, chief executive of Samaco Automotive Company, said the Lamborghini Urus deserves the prestigious accolade.

“This is of no surprise to us, Lamborghini cars are the world’s best luxury cars, and Urus is the last model ever made by this brand. Lamborghini Urus combines antiquity and modernity, it stands next to none in its category, and represents the ultimate formula of the modern car.”

The National Auto Awards are one of the top motorsport awards in the region. Every year, a panel of experts, the public and car enthusiasts take part in the voting to select their favorite cars. Assessments for both the categories are based on a series of stringent parameters, such as price, fuel efficiency, styling, comfort, safety, performance, practicality, technical innovation and build quality.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Jaguar Land Rover plots further MENA expansion

Time: June 11, 2019  

The Jaguar brand recorded a major jump in year-on-year growth in key markets in MENA, driving Jaguar sales upwards in the last fiscal year.

Despite all the challenges in the region’s automotive sector, luxury automotive manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover has reported an increase in annual sales in MENA across its two brands for 2018/2019, compared to 2017/2018 results.

Jaguar’s MENA retail sales were up by 46 percent, while Land Rover MENA displayed a 13 percent year-on-year increase.

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed that it is plotting further growth across the MENA region, with a number of new model launches scheduled throughout the year.

The Jaguar brand recorded a major jump in year-on-year growth in key markets in MENA, driving Jaguar sales upwards in the last fiscal year. Sales rose by 327 percent in Bahrain, 115 percent in Morocco, 81 percent in Qatar and 63 percent in Saudi Arabia.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate a profitable year for Jaguar Land Rover in MENA and we are already working to continue that trend in 2019,” said Rob Preston, sales director, Jaguar Land Rover MENA.

“We continue to remain focused on delivering sustainable growth and expect to surge in all-around performance and customer desirability in 2019, driven by new models and technologies to provide our Middle Eastern customers with the next generation of Jaguars and Land Rovers,” he added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Careem launches bus service between Jeddah and Makkah

Time: May 15, 2019  

Careem has expanded operations to the Kingdom beginning with a direct bus link between Jeddah and Makkah.

Careem Bus has launched in Saudi Arabia, with Jeddah as the first city of operations and a direct service from Jeddah to Makkah.

Following the successful launch of Careem Bus in Egypt in December last year, Careem has expanded operations to the Kingdom, with a journey between the two cities costing SR25 ($6) each way. The service comes as part of Careem’s commitment to solving transportation issues, improving mobility and creating jobs.

The route has been approved by the Saudi Public Transport Authority.

Hadeer Shalaby, director of Careem Bus, said: “Careem Bus will revolutionize mass transportation across Saudi Arabia and bring a new level of sophistication and price to our customers. The 13-seater service has been a huge success in Egypt, easing traffic flows and providing a safe and efficient way to commute. Through our superior technology, the app-based service is as seamless as ride-hailing a car, allowing customers to enjoy the benefits of our tech as well as enjoying cheaper travel and reducing traffic on the roads.”

Customers will be able to check the availability of the bus using the app, monitor its arrival and secure a seat. Walk-on passengers will also be accepted. The service is currently cash only, but soon passengers will be able to pay with several payment methods, such as the Careem wallet on the app or a registered credit card.

The service operates through a separate app from the ride-hailing app and is available for download on iOS and Android. Customers are able to pick the bus that best suits their travel time and will be able to track the bus as it arrives, the same as when ordering a Careem car.

The buses are provided in partnership with vendors who employ the captains, paying them a fixed monthly salary. Fares collected by the Careem Bus captains go to Careem, while Careem pays the bus vendors a fixed daily amount, regardless of the number of trips they make.

“The introduction of Careem Bus will help Saudi Arabia with the Vision 2030 plan for smart cities, contributing to app-based integrated transport options. It also helps the government achieve its ambitions to reduce pollution and ease congestion, as every Careem Bus has the potential to represent 13 fewer cars on the road,” a statement said.

The service will initially start with 13-seater buses.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Vision 2030: All you need to know about Saudi Arabia’s giga-projects

Time: May 07, 2019  

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The Red Sea Project has been described as one of the world’s most ambitious tourism and hospitality projects, aimed at setting new standards in sustainable development and redefining the world of luxury tourism. (Supplied)
  • Huge developments aim to put Kingdom on global tourism map
  • Work on first development in $500bn NEOM zone set to complete in 2020

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is making sincere efforts towards economic, social and cultural diversification with the works in progress on giga-projects, which are designed to be places of inspiration, discovery and fruitful engagements for the millennial generation.

The biggest development projects till date: Qiddiya Entertainment City, NEOM, the Red Sea Project and Amaala resort will shape the future of tourism as an important hub to meet and satisfy the recreational, social and cultural needs of the Kingdom’s current and future generations.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2016 mandated the development of long-term model of prosperity for the Kingdom and the result was Vision 2030, an ambitious yet attainable blueprint to ensure that Saudi Arabia is a vibrant society, a thriving economy and a progressive nation.

These developments are part of the Crown Prince’s ambitious plan Saudi Vision 2030 that aims to diversify the economy, away from a dependency on oil and society with varied and rich experience of a quality lifestyle including world class tourism.

In response to multiple societal challenges including limited entertainment options, demographic and social change, careers in a world beyond oil, and public health, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), a sovereign wealth fund owned by Saudi Arabia has been tasked with developing the series of “giga-projects.”

Qiddiya city has been named after the Aba Al-Qid road (Camel Trail) that used to connect Al-Yamama to Hijaz. (Supplied)


The Qiddiya project aims to meet these challenges by providing a destination where Saudis find excitement, inspiration, creative communities and career and investment opportunities.

Qiddiya city has been named after the Aba Al-Qid road (Camel Trail) that used to connect Al-Yamama to Hijaz. When completed Qiddiya will become a place to live, work and play, a prominent landmark and an important hub to meet and satisfy the recreational, social and cultural needs of the kingdom’s current and future generations.

Qiddiya, an important hub planned in the Saudi capital to fulfill the recreational and entertainment needs of the people, will see the launch of the construction phase this year. Qiddiya CEO Mike Reininger told Arab News in January: “2019 will see Qiddiya move from the planning and design phase to the construction phase.”

The Qiddiya site is 40 kilometers from the center of Riyadh city. When completed, this prominent landmark is expected to be the world’s largest entertainment city, surpassing Walt Disney World in Florida.

The ambitious project hopes to attract local, regional and international tourists. It includes theme parks, entertainment centers, sports amenities capable of hosting international competitions, training academies, desert and asphalt tracks for motorsport enthusiasts, water- and snow-based recreation, adventure activities alongside nature and safari experiences, and an array of historical, cultural and educational activities and events.

Visitors will have access to more than 300 recreational and educational facilities designed around five cornerstones of development that drive the strategy: Parks and attractions, sports and wellness, motion and mobility, nature and environment, and arts and culture.

The area earmarked for the NEOM project offers excellent prospects for leisure tourism, combining the Red Sea, beautiful beaches and islands and unspoiled natural beauty. (Supplied)


NEOM, is a giant zone being being developed in the northwest of Saudi Arabia with a $500 billion investment support from the Public Investment fund (PIF).

The project, which has been described as “the destination for the future of living,” will stretch across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders and aims to transform the Kingdom into an international pioneering example, through introduction of value chains of industry and technology.

The area earmarked for the NEOM project offers excellent prospects for leisure tourism, combining the Red Sea, beautiful beaches and islands and unspoiled natural beauty.

The origin of the name is a combination of the Latin word “neo” meaning “new,” and the first letter “m” of the Arabic word “mustaqbal” which means “future”.

NEOM, which was announced in 2017 and is in a pristine position on the Red Sea, is expected to focus on luxurious living, and will include high-end hotels and villas. Moreover, homes in the development will be marketed to both regional and international buyers.

Saudi Arabia announced in January this year that it will start developing the first urban area of the zone after the founding board, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, approved the master-plan for NEOM Bay, which will include homes, lifestyle and tourist facilities, and “innovation centers.” Construction work was expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 and will be completed in 2020.

“We are now preparing for the development of NEOM Bay area, which will provide a new concept of urban living that will enable it to become a platform for attracting the world’s top minds for creating advanced economic sectors,” said Nadhmi Al-Nasr, NEOM chief executive, in January.

In late January, Saudi Arabia established a company to develop NEOM. The closed joint-stock NEOM Company will be fully owned by the PIF and will develop the vast project, which will include multiple cities, airports, a seaport, tourist areas, industrial complexes and “innovation centers.”

According to Al-Nasr, the new entity will be responsible for developing a new global destination from scratch on a huge area and a futuristic civilization that is based on sustainability and livability.

“All this aims to turn NEOM into a global center for attracting investment, knowledge, innovation and technology in order to compete with all economic capital cities,” he said.

NEOM’s economic prospects will focus on 16 sectors: Energy, water, mobility, bio-tech, food, manufacturing, media, entertainment, culture, and fashion, technology including digital, tourism, sport, design and construction, services, health and well-being, education and liveability.

The Red Sea Project will set new standards in sustainable development and redefine the world of luxury tourism with objectives to position the Kingdom on the global tourism map. (Supplied)


The Red Sea Project, one of the giga-projects announced by the crown prince in 2017, is billed as one of the the world’s most ambitious tourism and hospitality projects: An ultra-luxury destination that is being created around one of the world’s hidden natural treasures.

The Red Sea Project will set new standards in sustainable development and redefine the world of luxury tourism with objectives to position the Kingdom on the global tourism map.

Once completed, visitors will be able to explore the wonders and rich cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia’s untouched Red Sea Coast.

This is a touristic project that includes more than 50 islands located between the cities of Umluj and Al-Wajh. It covers a number of the Red Sea’s untouched islands, as well as the archaeological site of Madain Saleh and a nature reserve containing regional flora and fauna.

Situated between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, the site is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa and within eight hours’ flying time of 80 percent of the world’s population.

The vision of the project include creating an exquisite ultra-luxury destination within a pristine 28,000 sq km area that includes an archipelago of more than 50 unspoiled islands, volcanoes, desert, mountains, nature and culture.

The project is planned to set new standards for sustainable development and environmental protection, exceed expectations with the highest standards of service excellence and use technology to enable a seamless personalized experience that will position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

The project offers a secure and stable environment for investors within the world’s fastest growing tourism region. In December 2018 King Salman received a team from the Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), led by CEO John Pagano at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh that gave a progress report on the ambitious tourism and leisure project with a presentation detailing the master plan and its economic and developmental objectives, which aim to establish it as a leading global destination in the luxury tourism sector.

The first phase of the project, scheduled for completion in 2022, includes 14 luxury and hyper-luxury hotels providing 3,000 rooms across five islands and two inland resorts on the Kingdom’s west coast, an airport to serve the destination, and marinas, along with residential properties and recreational facilities.

By the time the project is completed, there will be 22 developed islands out of a total of 90 islands.

It is expected to create 70,000 jobs and play a significant role in driving economic diversification in the Kingdom by attracting nearly a million visitors a year and contributing SR22 billion to the country’s GDP.

Notably, plans to develop the project have been given the green light. The TRSDC has received final approval from its board of directors for the program’s master plan in January this year.

Commenting on it Pagano said: “With the master plan approved, we are now identifying investors and partners who are interested in working with us on realizing the objectives of the project and who share our commitment to enhance, not exploit, the natural ecosystems that make the destination so unique.”

Significantly, the Red Sea project ensures protection of ecology. As part of the planning process, major environmental studies were carried out to ensure that the area’s sensitive ecology was protected both during and after completion of the development.

Furthermore, the master plan is underpinned by an extensive smart destination management system that will support a wide range of personalized products and services designed to appeal to the modern luxury traveler.

The TRSDC employed the world’s first destination-scale computer simulation techniques, created in Saudi Arabia, to assess the impact of the development and future tourism on the environment. The resulting plan now targets a 30 percent net increase in biodiversity over the next two decades, a conservation equivalent to designating the site as a marine protection area.

Technology also underpins the destination’s sustainability initiatives, with a suite of sensors and monitoring devices in place to track and measure variations in environmental factors such as water salinity, temperature, visibility and tidal flows.

“The leadership of the Kingdom has shown great foresight in its insistence on balanced development of this pristine destination,” said Pagano. “Our plan not only envisions a stunning luxury destination, it also takes tangible, measurable steps to enhance that destination for future generations to enjoy and cherish.”

The Amaala resort, already being dubbed the Riviera of the Middle East, will be focused upon wellness and healthy living. (Supplied)


The Amaala project is another global destination aims to focus on ultra-luxury “wellness tourism” and the arts alongside other Red Sea mega-projects NEOM, a 26,500 square mile business zone and Saudi Arabia’s answer to Silicon Valley currently under development in the northwest of the kingdom and the Red Sea project.

This ultra-luxurious destination on the Kingdom’s northwestern coast of the Red Sea has been announced by the PIF, which is spearheading the project and will provide initial funding. Partnership and investment packages will be available to the private sector as it progresses.

The “Amaala” resort, already being dubbed the “Riviera of the Middle East,” will be focused upon wellness and healthy living. The resort will be located in the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Nature Reserve. PIF said Amaala will sit alongside NEOM and the Red Sea Project as part of a giga-projects investment portfolio, which will establish a unique “tourism ecosystem,” supporting economic diversification and creating high-value job opportunities.

Nicholas Naples, a veteran luxury hospitality and development executive, will be the CEO of the project, PIF said in September 2018.

“Amaala will awaken the world’s imagination by rephrasing the current concept of the luxury tourism experience, especially in terms integrative wellness, specialty treatments and related recreational offerings,” Naples said at the time.

“Amaala represents a unique and transformational luxury experience where full-fledged wellness tourism is integrated alongside a curated mix of arts, culture and sports offerings that are individually tailored for the ultra-luxury lifestyle, including the availability of  a fashion scene, healthy-living services, and year-round sea expeditions,” Naples added.

According to the developers, Amaala will feature “extraordinary architecture and unprecedented luxury in both hotels and private villas as well as a quaint retail village.”

It will also include an arts academy that will foster the growth and development of young artists from Saudi Arabia and the region.

PIF announced there will be cultural events, artistic performances and related conferences in a bid to bring international visitors to the region, where they can enjoy a wide array of unique and personalized holiday experiences set against stunning scenery, mountainous landscapes and diving among pristine coral reefs.

The project will include marinas and a yacht club and aims to be a destination for boutique luxury cruises.

The retail areas will include a mix of galleries, ateliers, artisan workshops and bespoke outlets along with a wide range of international and local restaurants.

As envisioned in Vision 2030, Amaala – along with the other giga-projects — will support the diversification of Saudi Arabia’s leisure and tourism industry, while promoting cultural conservation, ecological preservation and sustainability.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi race driver Reema Juffali makes F4 debut


Reema Juffali made her debut as the first female race driver from Saudi Arabia at the F4 British Championship at Brands Hatch last weekend.

Juffali participated in the single-seater motorsport series based in the United Kingdom, driving for the Double R Racing team along with Louis Foster and Sebastian Alvarez.

“It’s been an honor to represent my country, coming into racing later in life means I have a lot more ground to cover in comparison to the other drivers. My goal this season is to improve race to race and be competitive enough to fight in the middle of the pack,” Juffali told Al Arabiya English.

The 27-year-old Northeastern University graduate made her debut competing in two-seater racing in October last year, just months after the ban on women driving was lifted in Saudi Arabia as per a June 2018 royal decree.

“I didn’t grow up around a racing culture and I struggled to imagine even driving a car in Saudi Arabia let alone representing my country as a female racing driver,” she said about women driving in the Kingdom.

“I used to think that racing was something you had to grow into from a young age, but after watching my first Le Mans race, I realized that some of the drivers were much older than me. That’s when I thought ‘why not?’ It’s not too late,” she added.

Juffali said that “one of the great things about motorsport is that women and men can compete against one another on an even playing field. Being the only woman amongst men has never affected me.”

“I’m quite a competitive person so it has actually pushed me to perform and prove my ability even more,” she added.

Juffali said it’s only the beginning of her journey. “I’m learning something new every day. For now, it’s about taking it step by step and making sure I develop my skills as a driver.”

“I love the feeling I get when I’m behind the wheel, that’s where I’m happiest, but more than that it’s the challenge that keeps me going,” she added.

This article was first published in  Al Arabiya English

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All new BMW Z4 rolled out in Saudi Arabia

Time: April 08, 2019    

MOHAMED Yousuf Naghi Motors, the official importer of BMW Group in Saudi Arabia, introduced the all new BMW Z4.

With dynamic performance, sumptuous interiors and the seamless adoption of the latest on-board connectivity, entertainment and communication technology, the Z4 is poised to achieve the status of ‘new classic’.

With its elongated bonnet, arrow-shaped contour lines directed at the kidney grille and wheel arches in the “clamshell” style, the latest BMW Z4 is built in the mold of the marque’s classic sports roadsters.

A premium two-seater open-top sports car, the Z4 is built for maximum agility, thrills and enjoyment. The design of the front and rear axles gives the Z4 a sportier edge while guaranteeing superb levels of comfort.

The interior has been reimagined with a clear focus on creating a high-class ambience. The cockpit design perfectly adds to the roadster’s aura thanks to the intuitive arrangement of controls

Both driver and passenger enjoy premium upholstered Vernasca leather seating as well as the latest, class-leading BMW driver assist, connectivity and entertainment technology.

Boosting the advanced nature and character of the new Z4 are sophisticated Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and City Breaking functions. Fitted as standard, they are designed to seamlessly aid the driver in any situation.

Boot capacity has been increased by more than 50% compared to the outgoing Z4 model, with 281 liters available whether the soft-top is open or closed. A choice of nine exterior paint shades are available, while the fabric soft-top comes in Black or Anthracite with silver effect.

Available in three models that all feature the latest eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission – the Z4 M40i, Z4 sDrive30i and the Z4 sDrive20i – the Z4’s central seating position, low centre of gravity and ideal 50:50 weight distribution give it a dynamism worthy of its position as the new head of BMW’s family of two-seater roadsters.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

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Saudi female racer Reema Juffali set for F4 UK championship debut at Brands Hatch

Time: April 04, 2019  

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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
  • Juffali, 27, will be racing for defending champions Double R Racing
  • Juffali, on debut, was one of only three women in the GCC to hold a race licence

LONDON: Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship debut at Brands Hatch at the weekend.

Juffali, 27, will be racing for defending champions Double R Racing with her teammates Louis Foster and Sebastian Alvarez.

Having made her debut in racing in October 2018, a few months after the Kingdom lifted the ban on women driving and started issuing licences in June of the same year, Jeddah-born Juffali said she was excited about the coming year ahead.

“In terms of being from Saudi Arabia, it’s such a great thing for me to do and represent my country,” she said, highlighting her pride at representing Saudi Arabia. She also thanked her family, friends and fans for their support thus far.

“It’s a great honor for me. It’s something I didn’t really think about until quite late in life, I want to say maybe about three or four years ago that I started thinking about the idea of racing. To be here today is quite unbelievable and to have done it in such a short space of time, I’m very grateful and happy about that,” she told the British F4 website.

“It’s a good time in Saudi to be doing such a thing and all the support I’ve gotten from friends, family, people I don’t even know, has been fantastic and it’s only been pushing me to do better.

“Brands Hatch is the heart of motorsport. It’s going to be a tough year in such a competitive championship, but I’m ready for the challenge,” she added.

Juffali, who studied in the US before moving back to the Kingdom, was announced as Double R Racing’s latest addition to the team in March – and having joined the UK-based set-up, she said: “I’m happy to be joining Double R Racing, a championship-winning team with such a great history, and to be competing in British F4 where many great drivers have started.”

Juffali was one of only three women in the GCC to hold a race licence on her debut and the first Saudi female to compete in the TRD 86 Cup at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Team principal Anthony Hieatt said: “We’re really looking forward to working with Reema in British F4 this year and delighted she’s joined Double R for her first full season of racing at any level.

“I know there’s a huge amount for her to learn – the car, the style of racing and all of the British tracks which are very unique – but Reema has shown a great deal of promise already.

“It’s fantastic to be working with someone who is breaking down barriers as Reema is, and has been over the past few months, since she decided to start racing.”

The F4 championship is a multi-event, open-wheel single seater championship held at various racetracks across the UK between April and October.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Taajeer Group launches Maxus T60 pickup in Saudi Arabia

Time: March 30, 2019   

TAAJEER Group, the exclusive distributor for Maxus brand in Saudi Arabia, has recently unveiled the all-new Maxus T60, the pickup that has recently received a five-star recognition in terms of safety from the ANCAP safety ranking. The brand Maxus originate from the LDV Maxus model of the historical British commercial vehicle manufacturer LDV Group. Formerly known as LDV (Leyland DAF Vans), Maxus is one of the most respected companies for light passenger and cargo transport in the UK. Over the years, the Maxus brand has won several awards including “Fleet Van of the Year”, “Best New Van”, “Innovation Award” and also “Van of the Year” for four Consecutive Years. Maxus is currently distributed at four continents and is internationally recognized for its comfort, technology and high standards.

The T60 takes design inspiration from the strength, power, and grace of that of a “bull” in western mythology. It proved its capabilities on winding roads, washboard roads as well as mountain climbing, during which it displayed excellent performance in comparison to other pickups in its category.

Hazm Jamjoom, COO at Taajeer Group, said: “Taajeer Group is very keen to provide solutions based on the needs of the market and customers alike, where the launch of Maxus brand in the Saudi market marks a step towards a better choice for your business and commercial needs. in view of what this prestigious brand represents in terms of trust and extensive experience in the field of high quality pickup trucks. The launch of Maxus T60 will enhance the prestige of this brand in the automotive sector in the Kingdom, as this model will provide extra service based on the high operational value of this pickup truck compared with its competitors in the same segment due to its high quality and the availability of all after sale services”.

The Maxus T60 is powered by a 2.4 liter Inline 4 naturally aspirated petrol with 136 horsepower. In addition, the T60 is excellent in dynamic performance, equipped with advanced 2.8T VM turbo diesel engines, featuring 110 KW of power and a maximum 360 NM of torque. Its drag capacity of 3.5 tons can help vehicles out of danger. A 5-speed manual, and 6 speed manual transmissions are available with these engines

Safety is a vital part of T60, that’s why it adopts both active and passive safety systems to avoid any potential problems. On one hand, the vehicle uses thermoforming technology to improve the strength of its steel plates. On the other hand, six air bags in the auto offer driver full protection, with top scores in all segments, the ANCAP report shows the Maxus T60 scored high grades in all tests with overall Score 35.46 out of 37.

Starting from the dual frontal, side and head airbags the T60 scored 14.46 out of 16 in the frontal Offset test that includes head/neck, chest, and upper and lower legs tests. In the side impact test, the vehicle scored 16 out of 16. The side impact test normally used by ANCAP simulates a small car striking the driver’s door of the test vehicle. In the pole test, which detects the side curtain airbags, the vehicle scored the maximum 2 points for head protection. Whiplash protection is assessed to the RCAR Protocol, the T60 showed high abilities of safety with Good mark, the highest in ranking. In the Pedestrian Protection, this vehicle scored 26.64 out of 36 points (Acceptable). Besides, the Seat Belt Reminders scored 3 out of 3.

T60 is equipped with LED lights for its Adaptive Front Lighting System. Moreover, a string of safety configurations, including the Around View Monitor (AVM), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and Driver Fatigue Monitor System, ensures T60 drivers have comprehensive protection in extreme road conditions. The T60 also highlights stability with BOSCH 9.0 Electronic Stability Program (ESP).

The six air bags, thermoforming technology, YunOS Car ware, five-star ANCAP design for crash safety, anti-corrosion design is some of the most novel functions of T60.

Meanwhile, Tom Lee, Managing Director for SAIC Motor Middle East, said: The Maxus brand has a unique proposition which sets it apart in the commercial vehicle market. Over the years, our products have received positive response across the GCC and especially in the UAE. We are pleased to deepen our existing partnership with Taajeer Group and are excited to work closely with them on the Maxus brand. This partnership will enable us to take advantage of MG’s established network and after-sales facilities and capitalize on this unique synergy. Our commitment is underlined by our single purpose which is to offer a customer centric experience through our innovative product range. — SG

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

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How Saudi Arabia is improving its railways

Time: March 04, 2019  

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Saudi passengers on the platform at Makkah train station at the opening of the high-speed Haramain railway, above. Construction at a Riyadh metro station, below. (AFP)
  • The high-speed Haramain is operating at near-full capacity, while the North-South line is being expanded
  • Riyadh’s Metro is almost complete, and more track is being added


DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is on track to develop its rail networks as part of a GCC-wide push to ramp up regional transportation, with the high-speed Haramain railway now operating at near-full capacity, Riyadh’s Metro almost complete and another 800km of track, along with sleeping coaches, added to the Kingdom’s North-South railway.
Such projects are helping the country move toward realizing the goals of Vision 2030, with transportation a key driver of the economic renaissance that will take place as the Kingdom’s economy moves away from its reliance on oil.
Saudi Arabia’s first rail line, between Riyadh and Dammam, opened in 1951. “It was inaugurated by the founder King Abdul Aziz and the late King Saud, who put the nail for the last mile in the track from Dammam to Riyadh,” said Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih, president of the Public Transport Authority in Saudi Arabia. He spoke at the Middle East Rail conference, part of the Middle East Smart Mobility event in Dubai last week, where he provided an update of the Kingdom’s ambitious transportation plans.
“The current line transported 1.8 million passengers in 2018 and we are improving services and increasing speeds, with our target this year to increase it from 160km to 180km. We also transported 700,000 containers from Dammam Port to Riyadh’s Dry Port.”
The Haramain High Speed Railway is another project launched last year by King Salman — a high-tech, state-of-the-art 450km-line connecting five stations between Madinah and Makkah at 300km/hour.

“It is now being utilized by Muslims from all over the world, and since we inaugurated it, we have had above 90 percent utilization,” said Dr. Al-Rumaih. “It is almost full on every trip we add, which is very pleasant and shows our planning was in the right place.”
Once all stations open, he said that the line would represent the backbone of all transportation among the two holy cities, employing Saudi men and women to operate it. “The train driver was Saudi, and he was trained there,” he added.
Saudi’s North-South Line, which opened in 2017, added another 800km from the Al-Jawf region to Riyadh in November, introducing night trains with sleeping coaches as well — a first for the country.
Riyadh’s metro construction is also well under way, with plans for the Riyadh Development Authority to start staged operations and commissioning late this year. Spanning 176km serving 85 stations across six lines, cars are currently being tested.
Dr. Al-Rumaih said that there are plans to add more lines to the railway in the future, with a connection between Yanbar Industrial City and the King Abdullah Port by the Red Sea, as well as a 1,150km-land bridge linking the Kingdom’s east coast to its west coast.
The GCC rail project within Saudi will cover 628km of the Gulf’s railway plans, connecting the country to Bahrain. More than 200km of that track is being worked on, part of which has already been completed.
“We are working with GCC governments to plan the building of the remaining parts,” Dr. Al-Rumaih said. “These projects are operational, and they have to be localized — we are very committed to making sure they are being run by Saudis, and we are pushing to ensure the manufacturing is also being done in Saudi Arabia, or at least part of it, to gradually ensure we are localizing this industry for the region.”
For that, the Saudi Railway Polytechnic was established, based in Buraidah Al-Qassim, to train drivers, signal technicians, station customer service representatives and others who plan to work in such projects.
Across the GCC, the rate of mobility between citizens and residents alike has been on the rise, from 4.5 million in 2003 to an astounding 27 million in 2017. Trade also grew drastically from $6 billion dollars in 2003 to $133 billion in 2017.
“The GCC leadership has been keen on supporting efforts to work together in all domains, from mobility, education, health care and social services,” said Khalifa bin Saeed Al-Abri, assistant secretary general in Economic and Development Affairs at the GCC General Secretariat. “Transportation is one of most important sectors for GCC countries to be able to reach economic integration, because it facilitates the mobility of residents and citizens.”
As such, the Gulf is working on establishing a unified law for the transport of passengers and cargo. “Railway projects in the GCC will be of prominent importance in the transport sector and they will have a direct impact on easing trade and mobility between Gulf countries,” he said.
“They will boost investments and joint projects relevant to this sector, and we are relentless in our efforts to achieve this objective.”
In the UAE, 160km of railway has been built so far, starting from Al-Ruwais. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have so far completed the design of projects, with the establishment of a number of technical facilities. “We are now studying the expected number of passengers and cargo for the second phase of the project, which is to have a GCC Railway Authority,” Al-Abri said. “We will also involve the private sector, including small and medium enterprises, to ensure we have a very sustainable transportation sector. (They will help) the future of the region as they are focusing on providing solutions for the most prominent issues.”
Using innovation in the Gulf’s transport sector will prove crucial in facing challenges to cater to the population’s growing needs. “Smart transportation is a very important part of the region’s growth and development and for us to prepare for what is to come in the post-oil era,” said Ahmed Al-Khoury, director general of the UAE Federal Transport Authority. “We are looking to put our strategies in a holistic manner in the UAE and smart transportation will transform the country into a logistics hub, especially when linked with the railway once it is finalized.”
He spoke of the Emirates setting up a federal transportation law for new services, including smart transportation such as autonomous vehicles, to ensure safety and security. “The aim is to achieve sustainable development, and railway networks as well as the tram and all elements related to transportation will be a part of it,” he said.
“Public transport in the UAE is on the rise, and this will help lead to less violations and accidents. Autonomous vehicles are a reality right now, and it is very important we prepare for it. But yet, there are still many developing economies that are not able to face different challenges that all this entails, so the private sector will play a pivotal role in that regard to generate creativity and innovation.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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The automotive sector in Saudi Arabia

Time: March 02, 2019


The automotive industry is a key pillar of the global economy, a main driver of macroeconomic growth and technological advancement in developing and developed countries.
The value chain for the automotive industry is wide and covers many other adjacent industries and, hence, creates a multiplier effect much higher than any other industry.
Saudi Arabia is considered one of the largest automotive markets in the Middle East. Moreover, the addition of 3 million women drivers to the automotive market by 2020 will open a host of incremental opportunities for investors and industry participants, ranging from car sales to motor insurance, vehicle leasing and driving schools.
The government is seeking to develop a domestic automotive industry and has encouraged global vehicle manufacturers to establish local operations, in an effort to create jobs for the country’s growing youth population and facilitate the transfer of technology and skills.
Saudi Arabia is currently developing a car manufacturing city and working to incentivize investors to inject money into the industry. The Kingdom will also provide the required raw materials including aluminum, rubber, plastics and others at competitive prices. The Auto Cluster aims to attract Saudi and foreign investment, increase exports, provide job opportunities, and contribute to economic diversification as part of its 2030 Vision reform plan.
Saudi Arabia already has more than 8 million passenger vehicles in operation, and this will increase significantly in the coming years, with potentially 9 million new drivers added to the roads.
Saudi automotive dealers will be the first to benefit, along with banks and insurance companies that finance and underwrite new car purchases. Furthermore, the aftermarket comes next, when these additional cars require regular repair and maintenance, replacement parts, tires, batteries, accessories, car care and grooming.
According to Messe Frankfurt Middle East, Saudi Arabia is already the Gulf region’s largest auto aftermarket, with revenues from tires, batteries, lubricants and engine components and accessories valued at more than $7.1 billion in 2017. Early estimates had projected the market to be worth $8.9 billion by 2021. However, with the recent decree allowing women to drive this year, the figure will likely be much higher.
In spite of the temporary sales decline which has affected most Saudi luxury dealers, I believe that the Kingdom’s automotive sector is set for a rapid transformation in the coming years. Not only will the affordable mass market brands witness sales growth, but the 3 million female drivers expected to be added to the Kingdom’s roads by 2020 will also contribute.

Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

This article was first published in Arab News

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