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When most people think about Saudi Arabia, they think about a country that produces 10-million barrels of crude oil every day, a country where temperatures in the summer can reach over 130-degrees, and a country where the Sheikhs live in mansions bigger than some high-end resorts.
While there is a huge car culture there, with the well-to-do acquiring just about every exotic car ever made, the country isn’t known for producing its own car.
That is all about to change, as the King Saud University (KSU) announced recently that it has signed a $500-million deal with South Korea’s Digm Automotive Technology, to produce the nations first ever production car.
KSU surprised everyone when it showed a concept vehicle at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show called the Gazal-1, based on the Mercedes G-Class platform. Now this forward thinking university has set up a fund, where it will come up with 10 to 15 percent of the investment, Digm will contribute about 30 percent and the rest to be covered by investors.
KSU president Abdullah Al-Othman said the first car will be a five-passenger vehicle. He added, “Our aim is to market a low-cost car of high quality priced at between SR35,000 and SR45,000, ($9,300 to $12,000).”
The aim is to have the car ready in about two-years, and in the beginning the car will be marketed in its home country, plus other neighboring Arab nations and North African countries.