Saudi Arabia unveils Ghazal, first local car

Saudi Arabia has unveiled its first locally-built car, an all-terrain vehicle called "Ghazal 1," and plans to manufacture 20,000 units a year, its promoters said on Tuesday.

King Abdullah unveiled a carbon fibre prototype of the new car, which was built by the King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh, on Monday in Jeddah on the Red Sea, project official Abderrahman al-Ahmari told AFP.

The vehicle is designed for the desert climate of Gulf countries and was produced "in collaboration with several major companies, including Motorola, Mercedes-Benz and Magna Canada," Arab News quoted Said Darwish, an industrial engineering professor at KSU, as saying.

Production of 20,000 units a year is planned, Darwish said.

Saudis contributed "90 percent of the design of the Ghazal 1 and 60 percent of its fabrication," Ahmari said.

"Contacts are ongoing with Saudi investors for the mass production of the Ghazal 1," he said, adding that he hoped the project would be achieved within two to three years.

"This is a national strategic product and KSU holds its patent rights and intellectual property rights," university president Abdullah al-Othman said, also quoted in Arab News.

The project for the car, which is named after the Arabic for deer, would require a 500-million-dollar investment, according to unofficial estimates.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter of crude, seeks to develop local industry, particularly by training its own managers and experts, and by technology transfer.

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