In January 2019, the ground was broken on the US$614 million Roadbot tyre plant in Abu Dhabi. Local news sources described the project as a milestone in the capital of the United Arab Emirates as recently as January 2020. However, the project has since hit a roadblock as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tyres & Accessories has seen documents that show how recent progress has been limited, though initial steps seem to have progressed well. Specifically, the official letter from Roadbot Tyre Industries dated July 2020 confirms that all the necessary planning applications, architectural designs and structure drawings have been approved and completed. Yet critical machinery work came to a standstill in March 2020.
The 18th edition of Automechanika Dubai, which was scheduled to run from 7-9 June 2020, will now take place from 19-21 October 2020 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The postponement comes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as containment measures restrict movement across international borders, and impact the global economy.
Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton won the final grand prix of the 2019 season with a one-stop medium-hard strategy. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second used the same strategy at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, but the third-placed Ferrari of Charles Leclerc added a final soft stint to his medium-hard run plan, taking advantage of the red tyre’s extra speed in the crucial closing stages of the race. Hamilton never lost the lead after gaining pole position in qualifying. He completed a hat-trick with a fastest lap on the hard tyre, which broke a lap record at Yas Marina that had stood since 2009.
In January 2019, construction of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first tyre plant began. Now, the best part of a year later, sources operating in the Middle East and Africa region report that the Roadbot factory, which is being built in KIZAD’s China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone by Tirebot, is nearing the completion of its initial stage of development. During the ground-breaking of the plant in January, company representatives said the factory would become operational in October 2020. As much as US$600 million is reportedly being invested in the project.
Continental is planning to open a Middle East regional office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The joint venture project with the company’s previous distributor in Saudi Arabia, Almutlak Trade & Industries, will support growing demand for Continental’s products and services in the kingdom, according to the company.
Pirelli has opened a fourth branch of its tyre boutique retail concept P Zero World on a third continent. The store follows previous openings in Los Angeles, Munich and Monte-Carlo. More than 60 supercars belonging to local collectors formed a parade through the city to mark the Dubai opening. The following day more than 200 cars took to the track at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi for the P Zero Experience: Pirelli’s track day event.
Davanti has exhibited its extended range of tyres at Automechanika Dubai, reporting positive reactions to its expansion strategy across Europe and Asia. The brand included its recently launched all-terrain tyre, the Terratoura, explaining that a full range of tyres is a prerequisite for building Davanti’s profile in new markets. The company also mentioned the value of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) accreditation in the Middle East – a measure Davanti has taken with its whole range, where competitors have chosen to accredit only the most popular sizes.
Lewis Hamilton won the last grand prix run on the current Pirelli Formula One tyre range in Abu Dhabi, but was pipped to the drivers’ championship by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who finished second, using identical two-stop strategies. The tyre supplier called the Yas Marina-hosted grand prix “the last race in the era of deliberately high tyre degradation”, with its latest, larger range of P Zero slicks and Cinturato wets unveiled in the emirate before the weekend’s racing began. The final development test for the 2017 will begin on Tuesday, 29 November, with Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari appearing on track together in modified 2015 mule cars.
Al Saeedi Group has held a meeting with its Camso, formerly Camoplast Solideal, tyre customers. The event was chaired by Ferreol Tournebize, Camso zone director for Middle East Africa; Majid Tamoutounour, business development manager Middle East Africa; and Anish Malattiri, director, Al Saeedi Group.
2015’s Formula One calendar concludes at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi; a venue with which Pirelli is very familiar. The F1 tyre supplier has used the venue for testing, including the world’s first wet-weather test run at night, and a pre-season launch. The smooth asphalt means the softest tyres in the range will be supplied, a combination previously employed at the slowest grand prix, Monaco, and at four other race weekends. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held from late afternoon into the evening, so track temperatures tend to drop over the course of the race, meaning that the pattern of tyre behaviour is different to normal: another complex variable for teams to factor into their strategy calculations. Pirelli expects a performance gap between the two compounds of 1.0-1.2 seconds per lap.
As of May 2015 Marangoni Spa entered into a partnership deal with Al Shirawi Enterprises that sees the latter become exclusive distributor for the Marangoni brand of industrial tyres in Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates (UAE). During his recent visit to Dubai, Adam Dudas-Smith, export area manager for Marangoni Industrial Tyres, announced that Al Shirawi Enterprises had shown a big commitment to the Marangoni brand since taking on a non-exclusive dealership role for Dubai and UAE.
Here in Europe and in other major markets such as Japan, Korea and the US tyre labelling has been the subject of intense discussion for some time. However, if the local news reports are anything to go by, the UAE appears to be taking the concept to the next level with the introduction of smart RFID “tags” which feature both an RFID chip and visual label including a QR code.