By Linda Spencer
SEMA members traveling with SEMA to the 2014 SEMA Middle East event will visit specialty shops, participate in a briefing with U.S. Embassy officials based in the region and exhibit at a local show. Networking opportunities with pre-vetted buyers round out the program.
Three subsidized slots remain for the opportunity to meet with pre-vetted buyers from throughout the Middle East at the third SEMA Middle East Business Development Conference being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), March 11–14, 2014.
Why should you explore the Middle East market for your products?
- The UAE and their neighbors in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait are crazy about cars.
- The markets in the region are booming with ’14 passenger vehicle sales in line to set new records.
- Classic car restoration—either restored in the United States and then shipped to the region or restored locally—is the current trend.
- Whether off-roading or drag racing, enthusiasts in the region are seeking to push the limits on power.
- Deep pockets—The UAE and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have among the world’s highest per capita disposable incomes and thus the funds to pursue their hobby. As more people have money to spend and the local economy continues to grow, consumer expenditure in the UAE is expected to top Dh766 billion this year—up by 7% from 2013—according to Euromonitor International—a London-based market intelligence firm.
- Consumers are seeking out the latest and greatest new products to personalize their rides.
- The vast desert is the venue for the hot off-roading market.
- Musclecars—classic and modern—are popular. The seventh-generation Corvette will be available in the Middle East in early 2014, and the sixth-generation Mustang will come to consumers in the UAE and surrounding countries.
- As more people have money to spend and the local economy continues to grow, consumer expenditure in the UAE is expected to top Dh766 billion this year—up by 7% from 2013—according to Euromonitor International—a London-based market intelligence firm.
More than 160 pre-vetted buyers from nine countries met with 41 SEMA-member exhibitors at the 2013 SEMA Middle East Business Development Conference. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers are located beyond United States borders. By diversifying, SEMA members can better position themselves for future economic downturns.
“The Middle East has tremendous upside for the performance market,” said Rick Trudo, CEO of Florida-based SCT Performance. “We have seen eight-to-one growth over our two years working with SEMA at this event. It plays a big part in our international growth strategy, as do China and Brazil. It helps take the potential inconsistency out of the U.S. market and gives us a strong offshoot to sell into.”
Motorsports and vehicle personalization have a strong and growing base throughout the region, and a quick drive around Dubai or Abu Dhabi would surprise any gearhead with the wide variety of customized vehicles traveling the roads. Off-roading is also extremely popular throughout the region with SUVs and pickup owners heading into the desert.
“Automotive styling in the Middle East is a confluence of influences from around the globe,” said David Borla, sales and marketing manager for Borla Performance. “Whether it’s musclecars, high-end exotics, Jeeps, pickups, SUVs, luxury sedans or sport compacts, you will find a cross section of the world’s finest automotive offerings. But it doesn’t stop there. Personalization is just as important as the platforms themselves, and there is a pervasive culture of tailoring vehicles to meet individual specifications, needs or preferences.
“The conditions in the Middle East have created a ‘perfect storm’ that promotes the growth and prosperity of the automotive aftermarket. Beyond the affluence and brand consciousness you see on the surface, there is a growing infrastructure of distribution and service that makes it easy for enthusiasts to buy, install and maintain aftermarket parts. Combine that with great roads and what seems like infinite sand dunes, and you have a giant playground for people who love to play with cars."
U.S. Department of Commerce $1,000 grants are available to help qualified companies defray participation costs.
The exploratory and sales trip to the UAE will include a tour of local shops and an opportunity to meet with buyers from throughout the region. Last year's event included buyers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
For more information or to register, visit SEMA.org/MiddleEast. Read the SEMA News article covering the 2013 SEMA Middle East Business Development Conference.