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UAE’s automotive giant OWS to establish Saudi facility in Q1 2023

OWS Saudi OWS Automotive
OWS Automotive CEO Oweis Zahran says it's time to look beyond the UAE's borders
  • ‘Saudi Arabia is the future of the Middle East’, says CEO Oweis Zahran
  • OWS Automotive opening to create 1,000 new jobs in the kingdom
  • King Abdullah Economic City to be region’s hub for automotive sector

OWS Automotive, the global automotive service provider with a major presence in the UAE, has signed an agreement with King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Saudi Arabia to establish its head office and main facility there. 

The agreement will see the two groups provide vehicle remanufacturing, assembly, upgrade and reset facilities within the city, ultimately creating nearly 1,000 new jobs in the process.

It will help to further cement KAEC as a key hub for the regional automotive industry and also represents a significant boost to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy, which seeks to diversify the kingdom’s economy.

“We’ve had a presence in the UAE since 2010 – every major government and fleet owner is now a customer of ours – and so it is time to look beyond the UAE’s borders,” Oweis Zahran, CEO of OWS Automotive, told AGBI. 

“It was only a matter of time before we moved to Saudi Arabia. With all the investment they’re pouring into the economy it makes sense to get on board. 

“We’ve seen how rapid the growth was in Dubai, as well as other emerging economies, and Saudi is catching up quickly. I believe it’s the future of the Middle East.” 

Zahran said OWS Automotive’s masterplan is to base its regional headquarters in KAEC but, for now, it is focused on establishing the head office and main automotive remanufacturing facilities.  

“We’d like to complete on this in the next 18 months,” said Zahran. “But we may be looking at between 18 and 24 months.” 

OWS Automotive plans to open the first phase of its facility in the first quarter of 2023 which will include a training academy that aims to offer 200 jobs to Saudi nationals.

It will then expand to over 1,000 jobs upon the facility’s completion, although Zahran expects the facility will generate considerably more jobs than that. 

King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia aims to be the regional hub for the automotive sector

“A thousand jobs is a conservative number,” he said. “We’re at more than that in the UAE today and the UAE isn’t even 10 percent of the market size of Saudi. 

“I think it can be several thousand as soon as we get a few successful POCs [proofs of concept] in place.”

Establishing OWS Saudi Arabia in KAEC will lay the foundations for the company’s wider investment plans in the kingdom.

“Saudi is an important piece of our global expansion plan and I will be spending a lot of time in the kingdom,” said Zahran. 

OWS Automotive’s arrival in Q1 2023 will help ease market pressures given that sourcing automobile parts has proven to be a challenge within Saudi over recent months owing to supply chain disruptions. This has pushed up automobile insurance premiums. 

“Part of our phase one plan is to establish a dedicated remanufacturing facility that will be able to take any spare part and remanufacture it to an almost new condition,” said Zahran. 

“In the UAE we service around 50,000 vehicles every year and have a track record of saving customers AED1.3 billion ($354 million) over the last seven years. 

“This also has huge environmental benefits because in remanufacturing these units and parts we’re saving, on average, 85 percent of the energy and raw materials required to manufacture a new engine.” 

KAEC and OWS Automotive sign their agreement to develop automotive re-manufacturing facilities within city

Sustainability remains a foundational component of KAEC’s long-term strategy and one that it is clearly working hard to put into action.

In August KAEC became a member of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility and sustainability initiative. 

It has also worked hard to attract companies that will help facilitate its transition to a greener economy. 

In May US electric vehicle manufacturer Lucid Group announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in KAEC.

It marks Lucid’s first plant outside the US and is projected to produce up to 150,000 electric vehicles per year and create several thousand jobs in the city. The Saudi government has signed a deal with Lucid to buy up to 100,000 of its cars over the next 10 years.

Lucid is more than 60 percent owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which earlier this month announced that it will start to manufacture electric cars in the kingdom under a joint venture with Taiwan’s Foxconn, the world’s largest technology manufacturer and service provider.

Ceer is the first Saudi automotive brand to produce electric vehicles in Saudi Arabia, and will design, manufacture and sell a range of vehicles for consumers in Saudi Arabia and the Mena region, including sedans and sports utility vehicles, PIF said in a statement.

PIF said its cars would be available in 2025, adding that Ceer would draw more than $150 million in foreign direct investment, create up to 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and is projected to contribute $8 billion to the kingdom’s GDP by 2034.

KAEC chief executive Cyril Piaia, said: “As home to a variety of car manufacturing and assembly facilities, we aim to continue building value alongside our industrial partners and establish KAEC as the automotive capital of Saudi Arabia.”