Tesla rolling into oil-rich UAE, launching first operations in MENA region

Published February 6th, 2017 - 09:24 GMT
Tesla's founder Elon Musk is also behind the UAE's concept for a Superloop system. (Shutterstock)
Tesla's founder Elon Musk is also behind the UAE's concept for a Superloop system. (Shutterstock)

Tesla, the California-based automaker, is expected to launch operations in the UAE soon, after the company sent out an email to Tesla owners inviting them to an event “to celebrate Tesla’s official arrival in the UAE.”

The company, known for its long-range electric cars, also posted on its website job postings for three positions in Dubai including a service advisor, a service manager, and a service technician, suggesting the UAE launch might be of a service centre.

The event and the job listings come just ahead of a visit by the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Elon Musk, to Dubai.

Musk is scheduled to visit Dubai next week as he will be taking part in the fifth edition of the World Government Summit, which runs from February 12-14.

Many Tesla owners who received an invite for the event, scheduled for February 13 at the Armani Hotel, expect Musk to be in attendance as he usually attends similar launch events in other parts of the world.

Tesla’s launch in the UAE would mark its first operations in the Middle East and Africa, with the company’s operations currently concentrated in the US, Western Europe, as well as some representation in Japan, China, and Taiwan.

Colin Beaton, managing director at Limelight Creative Services, a retail strategy firm, said he expected the market in the UAE to be “small and passionate.”

“Historically, this country has fallen love with big-engine vehicles, so the broad-based population will take some time. You’re going to find a minority of consumers here who strongly believe in clean energy, and they’ll be absolutely dedicated and loyal customers of Tesla,” he said.

Beaton said he expected the Tesla target audience to grow, albeit slowly, as awareness on clean energy grows.

He pointed that Tesla’s launch particularly in the UAE would make a statement about the company’s product value, brand name, and ability to reach a vast demographic of consumers.

“If they’re going to reach into this part of the world, Dubai is a logical place to start. I think this is an important region, not because there’s huge [demand] here; if they can go into a one of the largest oil-producing countries where gas is cheap, and be successful, it’s a symbolic gesture that the value proposition and the spirit and philosophy of Tesla are valuable even here in a rich oil-producing nation,” Beaton said.

Tesla’s CEO Musk is known for his goals to reduce global warming and set up a human colony on Mars. In addition to heading Tesla, he is the founder, CEO, and chief technology officer of SpaceX, a manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft; and co-founder and chairman of SolarCity, a solar energy company; among other positions.

Most recently, he has been under strong criticism for his position on President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council, with many people saying he should resign in protest of the US president’s policies and stances.

The CEO confirmed he would not resign, however, tweeting, “I again raised (the topic of) climate. I believe this is doing good, so will remain on council and keep at it. Doing otherwise would be wrong.”


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