Adventurous vehicles, unconventional colors in demand as women gear up to hit Saudi roads

Updated 23 June 2018

Adventurous vehicles, unconventional colors in demand as women gear up to hit Saudi roads

  • The auto industry has an estimated 9 million potential new customers in the Saudi female population
  • The market has been overwhelmingly lopsided in favor of larger cars, says dealer

JEDDAH: Ever since the long-standing driving ban for women was lifted last September, auto-industry marketers have been scrambling to figure out just what women want. The auto industry has an estimated 9 million potential new customers in the Saudi female population who are now eligible to drive, an (em)powering move that instantly established Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest market for new sales. 

But many Saudi women were less than impressed with the initial ad campaigns. Some felt that these were driven by an emotional play on women’s feelings. Many complained that they focused too heavily on feminine stereotypes, rather than offering any practical information. These campaigns, while witty and creative, lacked any real substance to help women with the necessary decision-making required when buying a vehicle. 

Jeddah resident Layla Hamdan, 26, spoke candidly with Arab News about which vehicle models appeal most to her and her friends. “A lot of the marketing toward women has been way off-base in my opinion,” she said. “They are appealing to a very feminine stereotype that is not accurate in regards to the cars we prefer. 

“Personally, I think pink is one of the ugliest colors for a car. It’s not even so much about style or flash for me either, it’s all about practicality. This is an exciting time for us. A time for freedom and adventure. To be able to explore our great country and go on fun road trips together. For these reasons me and many of my girlfriends prefer larger cars such as SUVs or large hatchbacks.” 

Quick to take notice were major players in the auto industry such as Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, General Motors and United Motors Co., which between them boast the authorized rights to sell Toyota, Chevrolet, GMC, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeeps in the Kingdom. These firms have ramped up their advertising and marketing campaigns, too, but have taken a more tactful and considerate approach. 

Along with establishing a call center managed exclusively by women to handle finance options and general inquiries, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, the Japanese group’s authorized Toyota distributor in Saudi Arabia, will be designating showroom lots run by all-female staff.

General Motors, which has exclusive selling rights to Chevrolet and GMC autos in the Kingdom, recently promoted a Saudi-born female advertising executive to be the region’s chief copywriter and assist in crafting advertisement campaigns that are more in tune with women’s preferences. 

United Motors Co. is the sole distributor for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat and Alfa Romeo autos in the Kingdom. Established in 1999 as a merger of United Arab Motors Co. and Al-Essayi Trading Corp., it is one of the largest automotive companies in the Saudi market, employing more than 1,200 trained staff in more than 63 branches. 

Arab News spoke exclusively with United Motors Co. sales manager Mohammed Mohsen Al-Amoudi about what types of vehicles Saudi women have been buying from his Jeddah lot, their color preferences and the appeal factor that larger cars have for women. 

“Now that women are allowed to drive in the Kingdom, there is a demand for exclusive offers and packages exclusively geared toward women that have been highly successful for us. We’ve had consistent record-setting months in sales since September. For example, last Ramadan we did not exceed
1 percent in sales for women, while this Ramadan it has jumped by
25 percent. The demand has shifted from women clients buying a car for their driver to buying a car for personal use, and we have found them to be just as concerned as men when it comes to the fine details on safety measures, fuel mileage and customized options.” 

As far as what vehicle models and color preferences women have, Al-Amoudi said that the market has been overwhelmingly lopsided in favor of larger cars.

“While we have all options available, from elegant and classic selections like our Alfa Romeo, Chryslers and Fiats to our sportier options in our Chargers and Challengers, we have seen the most spike in sales with our Jeep Wrangler. Just last week we sold four cars, all to women, and all were Wranglers.”

On color preference, Al-Amoudi said: “What we have noticed is that women have been requesting unconventional colors. Unfortunately, at the moment most dealerships mainly carry the generic solid colors of black, blue, white, and silver, but we are more than happy to order customized colors to accommodate their preferences.”

With June 24 a mere day away, it’s clear that Saudi women are not the only ones preparing for this big moment. Soon women will be driving on every Saudi road, but don’t expect to spot them strictly by their vehicle choice or color.

“What do women want?” ask marketers. Well, maybe a clue can be found in the popularity of Jeeps. They are tough, secure and highly resistant to extreme conditions. How fittingly appropriate. No argument here.


Saudi Arabia and Russia sign up to closer ties with 20 new deals

Representatives greet each other during the Saudi-Russian talks. (Reuters)
Updated 15 October 2019

Saudi Arabia and Russia sign up to closer ties with 20 new deals

  • Announcement of 20 new agreements made at Saudi-Russian Energy Partnership meeting
  • The agreements cover petroleum and various other fields ranging from energy to tourism

JEDDAH: Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman announced on Monday the signing of 20 agreements with Russia during the Saudi-Russian Energy Partnership meeting as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Kingdom.
During the signing ceremony of the new agreements, which took place in the presence of King Salman and Putin, the energy minister stressed that oil will remain an essential element in the development of the world economy.
The ceremony was also attended by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The 20 agreements covered the fields of petroleum and other energy industries, space and satellite navigation, justice, health services, tax administration, mineral wealth, tourism and aviation, in addition to cultural cooperation and the enhancement of trade relations.
Prince Abdul Aziz said that the two countries have started a new phase of cooperation in many areas of development.
The minister noted the important roles played by Saudi Arabia and Russia in stabilizing the global oil market and said: “The new OPEC + cooperation agreement will enhance cooperation and provide strong support for greater stability in the oil market.
“At the Saudi-Russian Joint Committee, we are working together to harmonize the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plans with its strategic objectives and Russia’s strategic development plans.”
The agreements were signed between relevant government agencies and sovereign wealth funds from both countries. The minister added that state-owned enterprises and the private sector in both countries will make a significant effort in achieving the goals of these agreements.
Financial expert Mohammed Al-Suwayed said that “Russia is an important strategic partner of Saudi Arabia.”
He added that joint efforts between the two countries would help to manage the oil market, “Saudi Arabia is a member of OPEC, and Russia is one of the most important non-OPEC exporters. The alliance between the Kingdom and Russia in the oil market contributes to creating harmony between the oil producers inside or outside OPEC.”
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company signed an agreement to join forces in the search of investment projects in the Russian agricultural sector, RDIF said on Monday.
A string of multimillion-dollar investment contracts were also signed in the aerospace, culture, health and advanced technology sectors.
Al-Suwayed said: “The Russian National Wealth Fund is interested in investing in Saudi Arabia. It has recently opened an office in the Kingdom as its first international fund office outside Russia, demonstrating a clear plan to invest in various sectors.”
An official welcoming ceremony was held in honor of Putin on Monday. During his meeting with King Salman, the Russian president said that the meeting was an additional boost to bilateral relations.
King Salman also considered the meeting an important opportunity to reach consensus on various visions and political positions.
Putin suggested that coordination between the two countries was important for the security and stability of the Middle East.
The president’s long-awaited visit will include discussions on further cooperation to stabilize prices on the world hydrocarbon market, as well as on Syria, the Gulf and Yemen.
Other deals regarding the military sector were not discussed and the pending Saudi plans to purchase the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems have not reached a final agreement.

20 SAUDI-RUSSIA DEALS SIGNED

1 Cooperation convention between oil-producing countries.
2 Joint Statement ofIntent between the Saudi Space Authority and the Russian state space corporation in the fields of manned space flight and the Global Navigation Satellite System, GLONASS.
3 High-level Saudi-Russian strategic cooperation framework agreement.
4 Energy cooperation protocol agreement.
5 Draft MoU on cultural cooperation.
6 Draft MoU on facilitating and organizing visas for the two countries’ citizens.
7 Draft of MoU on health cooperation.
8 Agreement on commercial attache.
9 MoU on starting negotiations for promoting and protecting investments between the two countries.
10 MoU on increase in export of Russian products to Saudi Arabia.
11 Cooperation agreement between SALIC (Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund to discuss investment opportunities in the agriculture and food sectors.
12 Telecom executive program agreement.
13 Draft MoU for cooperation in the field of public media.
14 Tourism cooperation agreement.
15 MoU on joint investments in aircraft leasing to support the development of the Russian aviation industry.
16 MoU on mutual investments in NefteTransService (NTS), one of the largest railway operators in Russia.
17 A program of work between civil aviation authorities to define and adopt standards for the Russian aircraft industry in Saudi Arabia.
18 Exchanging an MoU for technical cooperation in the field of tax administration with the Russian tax authority.
19 Agreement between Saudi Aramco and the Russian Direct Investment Fund and Rusnano to buy Rusnano shares in Novomet.
20 Agreement on methanol project in Amur region.