His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktou, who is
currently the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab
Emirates, as well as the Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Mohammed
bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders inaugurated the 8th
edition of the Middle East International Motor Show today.
The Middle East is a growing multi-billion-dollar market for automobiles, automotive parts, accessories, and components. Booming economies, rising standards of living, and a historic passion for automobiles have given rise to among the highest cars-per-household ratios in the world.
50% of all cars sold in Dubai are purchased by women and perhaps surprisingly, in the Middle East, women do influence much of the car buying decisions for the family very much like in US markets.
The Dubai Motor Show press preview day buzz:
Terry Johnsson who was was promoted to GM Latin America, Africa and Middle East vice president, Middle East Operations, on June 1, 2007 premiered a Middle East edition of the Cadillac Escalade that features special 40-inch wheel treatments, a custom instrument panel, and a choice of alligator or snake skin interiors, woo hoo! He also debuted the regional first look at the Chevy Aveo-S.
Terry had been managing director, General Motors Middle East, since May 1, 2004. Since his arrival, GM Middle East has achieved a near three-fold increase in sales. This has been driven by a series of exciting new product launches, programs to enhance and improve the customer experience, regional support of education and training initiatives, and nearly $1 billion of dealer investment in expanded sales and service capacity.
Terry Johnsson is a native of Australia and a fluent speaker of German; Johnsson holds a bachelor of arts degree in German and economics from Andrews University in Michigan, and a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.
Terry shared some pretty interesting and cool Middle East trivia after the GM debut: The U.S. ambassador for the UAE is a woman named Michele Sison. GM has been in the Middle East region for 80 years and the first GM vehicle to arrive here was a 1904 Buick Model D, brought by an Egyptian doctor. GM has been in the Middle East so long car buyers even have pet names for certain vehicles and have written songs about them. GMC products are called gymps, Suburbans are affectionately called 'Ships of the Desert,' and Cadillacs the 'Cars of the Kings'.
GM debuted several vehicles in the Middle East: GM's first lady Maureen
Kempston Darkes, GM president, GM Latin America, Africa and the Middle
East presented the world premier of a new GMC crossover named the
Terrain. Other GM premiers were the regional premier of a Cadillac
Escalade Middle East edition that features special 40 inch wheel
treatments, customized instrument panel and a choice of alligator or
snake skin interiors and the regional debut of the Chevy Aveo-S.
GM's gave a first glimpse of the Chevy Volt electric concept car and the the Chevy Tahoe Two-Mode Hybrid amid much controversy over how to bring energy diversity to the Middle East car buying market.
A very passionate Ed Welburn, who owns a 1969 Camaro, and is GM Vice President Global Design introduced the Chevy Camaro concept coupe, said, " The Camaro concept is pretty close to my heart." He has been working closely with the production team in Australia to get this to market ASAP without tuning out the features that have made this concept design such a hit. I drove this beauty myself and the engine purrs and growls like a mountain lion...please make it so in the production model! Ed told me the Camaro will be marketed to men and women; classic cars are sure a favorite of mine and this Camaro has the new and old combined in perfect proportions. He also introduced the beautiful Holden EFIGY concept car, the all new 2008 Cadillac CTS, the 2008 Chevy Avalanche, the 2008 Chevy Corvette Z06, the Hummer H3 Open Top, the Saab Areo X and the Saab 9-3 Convertible.
I also spoke with the delightful Carlos Barba who has been general director of design, General Motors do Brasil, since October 2002. He started his career at Adam Opel Design in 1985. He worked at the V Car Studio and was responsible for the Omega, Cadillac Catera and Vectra Caravan designs. At GM do Brasil , he was responsible for the Montana design. He is a 1977 architecture graduate of the Universidade Autonoma de Guadalajara in Mexico and a 1985 graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, earning a bachelor’s degree in design.
We discussed the challenges of selling vehicles in the Latin American market and the complexity of the cost of fuel for most families to own and operate a vehicle and how GM is addressing these needs by developing a one-liter engine and allowing some GM vehicles to use any fuel to get them down the road.
I got a glimpse of the record-breaking Shelby Aero,
which recently screamed into the Guinness Book of World Records as the
fastest production car in the world.
The Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé, a two-door, four-seater convertible combining the latest in light-weight engineering technology with the finest hand-crafted materials was on display. It features several unique design options, such as a stainless steel bonnet (hood) and teak decking - inspired by the great J-class racing yachts. Each car is individually built by highly skilled craftsmen and women at the company's world headquarters in Goodwood, on the south coast of England.
There was the James Bond Aston Martin DBS, as seen in the Casino Royale film in 2006, and a unique display of cars from the private collection of Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, including the black 1978 Rolls Royce, which was used by Queen Elizabeth during her last visit to the UAE.
The new Infiniti G37 Coupe debuted today, this sporty drive will reach regional showrooms in January along with the 2008 Infiniti EX35 (in March), a coupé-inspired SUV design.
Land Rover provided visitors attending the Middle East International Motor Show with a sneak preview of its future design and technology direction in the form of a short animated film. This gave a tantalizing glimpse of a concept that demonstrates Land Rover’s commitment to innovation that would pave the future direction of all new model upgrades.
The austentatious Maybach 62 S landaulet (open roof for the rear compartment) version had its world premiere, this concept draws inspiration from Maybach landaulets of the 1920s and 1930s.
The Ford passenger car lineup of the new 2008 versions of the Focus and Mondeo, both boasting Ford of Europe's new kinetic design concept, as well as the all-new North American made full-size Ford Five Hundred made their debut.
The Lincoln luxury brand debuted its all-new mid-size entry level sedan, the MKZ, while Mercury adds the all-new Mariner compact SUV as well as the all-new Montego full-size sedan to its lineup. Both brands are set to offer their largest ever product offering to Middle Eastern customers for 2008, with five products each.
Visitors to the show will also be treated to a spectacular live on-stage car conversion by West Coast Customs for the first time in the Middle East.
Double Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen will be on the Mercedes-Benz stand on Wednesday, November 14, to unveil a limited-edition racing version of the fabulous Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
They will also see the UAE’s first solar-powered car built by UAE national Saqr Bin Saif. There will also the Porsche Kids Driving School, plus exciting features, ensuring that the show will be a fun destination and an experience that the whole family can enjoy.
About the Dubai Motor Show
Held once every two years and popularly known as the Dubai Motor Show, The Middle East International Motor Show is the single largest international automotive event in the Middle East. Stretching across over 11 exhibition halls of The Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, the 2005 show ran in conjunction with two additional shows - Motor Parts & Accessories and MOTORplus. These three shows collectively offered a complete representation of the motor industry that serves the Middle East markets.
The show has a track record of pulling in crowds of affluent visitors from all of the GCC states and neighbouring countries, and is firmly established as the most lively and popular international automotive event in the region. Royalty, VIPs, top ranking government officials as well as international celebrities from the motoring world are also amongst the many visitors drawn to the show.
The 8th Middle East International Motor Show in 2005 had the participation of 226 exhibitors representing approximately 600 companies from 25 countries.
Held between the 14th and the 18th of November, the 2007 Motor Show will have more than 90 international vehicle manufacturers and customers display the latest design and technology, to over 85,000 motor enthusiasts from around the Middle East.
What an extravaganza of cultural learning and a personally enriching experience for me to attend the Dubai Motor Show and meet people from all over the world and hear so many diverse perspectives on how to reach women car buyers and meet women who work in the auto industry living and working in so many different cultures and countries.
pictured with Tamer Hagras, model, actor and major motion picture star
who is a household name in the Middle East).