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by Tim Beissmann

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah earlier this week unveiled his country’s first car and has given it the green light to become a production reality.

The Saud Gazal-1 concept, first shown at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show in March, was designed by 50 automotive engineering students at King Saud University specifically for the climate and conditions of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

Based on a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon platform, the Gazal-1 is 4.8m long and about 1.9m wide and named after a desert deer which apparently maintains grace and elegance in harsh habitats.

It was developed in collaboration with a number of large companies including Mercedes, Motorola, Magna Steyr and StudioTorino.

Saudi Arabia’s Higher Education Minister, Khaled Al-Anqari, thanked King Abdullah for his support of the project and congratulated the students at KSU.

“This is the fruit of your support,” Mr Al-Anqari said. “What is achieved today is a clear proof of the ability of Saudi youth to make innovations and inventions … if they are provided with the adequate facilities and given opportunities.

“It also shows that we have capable people who can transform ideas into products of high economic value.”

Although still in the early stages, the plan is to bring the Saud Gazal-1 into production within two years with an ultimate goal of manufacturing 20,000 units annually.

Estimates suggest it will cost around $US500 million ($579 million) to make the Gazal-1 concept a production reality.

(with Arab News)




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