(MENAFN - Arab News) After trucks and luxury cars, Saudi Arabia will enter the bus-manufacturing sector. Growth expectations in the domestic market are at 30 percent annually, as a result of the increased use of buses in school transport projects as well as for the transportation of Haj and Umrah pilgrims.
Investors and car dealers in local markets said they intended to establish manufacturing plants for this category of vehicles.
Saudi Arabia recently announced launching of a plant for the production of Isuzu trucks in the Kingdom, as well as a Jaguar Land Rover manufacturing facility to locally produce luxury cars.
"We have started collaborations with international specialists to manufacture buses locally," said Ali Husein Alireza, chairman of Haji Husein Alireza & Co. Ltd. (HHA), which represents many of the world's leading automobile and truck manufacturers in Saudi Arabia. HHA is also the first company to produce automobiles for the domestic market.
He said that procedures and studies were already completed. "This is a very important stage in the project. We will add a new production line for buses alongside the existing assembly line that produces trucks."
He confirmed that the annual demand for buses in the Saudi market is estimated at over 30,000. The demand for buses is expected to increase in the next 10 years due to the implementation of a school transport system. This will require more than 60,000 buses. The increasing demand from companies and institutions for buses to transport their employees would only add to that, as well as the constant demand of pilgrim transport companies.
"The constant growth of demand for automobiles of all types and sizes made the government consider the automotive sector as a strategic priority for promoting nonoil industries in order to enhance the national economy," Alireza said Ali Hassan Nakor, owner of Nakor Investments Ltd. and CEO of Al-Jazeera Haj transport company, which owns more than 2,000 buses, said he too was negotiating the establishment of a local bus-manufacturing plant.