SEMA News—December 2011

By Linda Spencer

SEMA Members Head to the Middle East in 2012

Why the Region Is One of the Most Promising for U.S. Specialty-Equipment Manufacturers

Off-roading is a big and growing pastime in the UAE and throughout the Middle East where the expansive sand dunes are a favorite destination. 
Some of the fastest-growing markets in recent years have been in the Middle East—the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the five neighboring countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The specialty-equipment markets in the region are in their infancy, and U.S. manufacturers have the opportunity to get into these respective markets during these exciting early days.

This is the first of a two-part series on some compelling reasons why U.S. manufacturers should take a closer look at selling into the Middle East.

“The market is developing at a breakneck speed,” said Paul “Scooter” Brothers, SEMA Chairman of the Board and COO of COMP Performance Group. “Companies that enter the market now have the best chance to do well. Those that follow might not be as successful. The best part is that the market consists of many U.S. vehicles, so little or no development time is required,” Brothers said.

Good Reasons to Look at the Middle East Market

Passionate and Growing Car Culture Booming in the Region: Some quick observations to be noted when driving through Dubai and Abu Dhabi reveal high-end customized vehicles, lots of SUVs and a great diversity of cars.

“The UAE market demonstrated to me a large degree of promise as a growth opportunity for SEMA-member companies,” said Jim Cozzie, RTM Productions. “There is a demand, there are resources and there is a wide variety of vehicles that our member companies currently offer parts for. It is evident from observations at the street level that this is a market waiting to be serviced. I have always said that car guys are car guys no matter where one travels in the world, and the Gulf region is no different. There is a passion for all types of vehicles there, a growing community of racing competitors and a thirst for the ability to accessorize and customize one’s ride.”

SEMA is creating an opportunity for U.S. manufacturers to meet one-on-one with top buyers from throughout the region. For more information on this April 17–20 event, contact Linda Spencer SEMA’s director of international relations, at
The Country Boasts the Largest Number of Motorsports Facilities Per Capita in the World: Motorsports is an emergent sport in the region since the introduction of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in November 2009 and that state-of-the-art facilities for both professional and amateur racing opened at the Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

The Yas Marina Circuit is also home to the Middle East’s first approved National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) dragstrip. Bahrain International Circuit is the latest Middle East venue to hold officially sanctioned NHRA races.

One of the priorities of the UAE racing authorities is to help develop a new generation of motorsport talent in the Middle East by paving the way for low-cost entry into the sport at the grassroots level.

“The region is underestimated,” said Alex Borla, CEO of Borla Performance. “There is a hunger to be different and to stand out among wealthy peers. With a sophisticated understanding of quality and seemingly unlimited funds to buy nothing but the best, don’t be surprised to see cars that rival the rest of the world. They have our attention; it’s a happening place.”

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