March 2016

Business opportunities in Iran after sanctions removal

Some people consider Iran to be within the Middle East and some don't. Does the fact that Iran is an Arab neighbor count it as an Arab country? The answer to this question is easy: no. But explaining why Iran isn't an Arab country requires a longer explanation. The term Arab may be used in several different ways at once, though a standard general definition of its content has rarely been possible. The easiest definition is to say that an Arab is simply someone who speaks Arabic. But that's not satisfactory. Present-day inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula meet the definition of Arab and it is often applied to the people closely allied to them in ancestry, language, religion, and culture.

The majority of Arabic-speaking countries remain in southwest Asia, Egypt, and North Africa. The Arab League includes Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Note the absent country: Iran. Why? Because the Iranians did not lose their language or their identity. Ethnic Persians make up 60 percent of modern Iran, and modern Persian is the official language.

That was just a bit of history to bring us to the point of whether we can count Iran among the Middle East or Arab League; western businesses are racing for investment opportunities in Iran as the country regains access to the global financial system following the lifting of sanctions. Iran's car market has the potential to reach sales of 1.5 to 2 million vehicles a year.

Daimler Trucks returned to Iran and signed letters of intent with local partners Iran Khodro Diesel (IKD) and the Mammut Group. French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen discussed business opportunities in Iran. Iran's Press TV said that Iran Khodro and Peugeot are likely finalizing a $541 million joint-venture deal to produce the Peugeot 2008 crossover, 208 supermini and 301 compact cars in Iran. Peugeot said it was counting on Iran for about 400,000 annual vehicle sales by 2020.

Renault has already begun assembling its basic Sandero compact in Iran, in addition to the original Logan saloon, and aims to introduce more models such as its Clio small car and Captur mini SUV. Audi and Volkswagen are also trying to break into the market.

So what's in our March issue?

Well as you know, March is the month where the most prestigious automotive salon takes place in Geneva. We will be covering all the debuts next month. We covered the Qatar Motor Show where many vehicles were launched (mainly for the Qatari market) and some debuts for the VW Group among Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche, etc.

Our cover story has been dedicated to the elegant and all-new Infiniti Q60 Coupe. It was launched at the Detroit Motor Show and will appear in Geneva for its European debut. The Q60 Coupe replaces its predecessor the G37.

In our Global Drives section, David drove the Aston Martin DB9 GT out in California. In our Regional Drives, Naim got his hands on the new Volkswagen Passat in Dubai.

In our Editors' Choice section, Ershad drove both the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport SVR in Dubai. He also got the chance to test drive the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot. I personally drove the last model of the GMC Acadia back in Beirut, before the all-new 2017 model was launched at the motor show in Detroit.

We brought you an interesting special feature this month which is out of the usual in terms of vehicle and location. We had the opportunity to drive the first prototype model of the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace in northern Sweden at -30 degrees Celsius. Ain't that special?

We visited the Peugeot 308 factory in France and we tested the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 motorbike.

As always, whenever you need anything from us feel free to drop us a message over our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and you can get the latest news on www.arabwheels.net.

- Issam Eid, Editor-in- Chief

Cover Story: All-new 2017 Infiniti Q60

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