King’s Ransom: Saudi Arabian University on Track to Create Nation’s First Automaker

Saudi Arabia is known for various reasons: sand, sharing its name with the film Lawrence of Arabia, extensive royal families, and, here in the car world, the Gazal-1. Soon, they’ll have their first automaker and prototype vehicle in two years, thanks in part to King Saud University.

The Gazal-1 was originally an exercise for King Saud University students (with assistance from Magna Steyr and StudioTorino) and is expected to see limited production, but this venture appears to be the real deal and more than just a boutique builder. The public university will team with an undisclosed South Korean manufacturing outlet for early production/operations. The same South Korean firm is also bankrolling 30 percent of the startup finances, and the Saudi automaker will reportedly “have a capital of about $500 million,” according to KSU president Abdullah al-Othman.

Another 15 percent of the monetary investment will be covered by Wadi al-Riyadh Technology, KSU’s investment arm. The remaining 55 percent will be offered to investors, but only when the time is right.

The aforementioned new prototype will be an economy car for use in the Persian Gulf region and North African states. Though the oil-rich nation is well-known for its concentration of exotic and luxury cars, a salable entry-level vehicles is expected to help diversify its portfolio.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)