EV Manufacturing, Micro-Mobility Enable Middle East Transport Electrification

Middle East, EVs, electric cars, micromobility, startups

As world leaders gather in Egypt this week for the COP27 climate summit, the question of how best to approach fossil fuels is being hotly debated.

The decisions made will have profound implications for the global transport industry, where the first steps toward the widespread electrification of transport systems are already being taken.

In fact, earlier this year, tech consultancy firm Arthur D Little published a global electric mobility readiness index ranking nations by how prepared they are for the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

Per the report, Northern Europe fared well, with Norway, the U.K. and Germany all making it into the top five. East Asia also ranked highly in the index, with China and Singapore completing the top five list, and Japan and Thailand taking seventh and ninth place.

In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the only country to make the top ten, likely due to the availability of charging infrastructure and maintenance centers in its two major cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Overall, the UAE’s EV market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 24.2% in the 2022-28 period.

What’s more, while the Gulf country has relied on imports in the past, a recently opened M Glory manufacturing plant in Dubai and a planned EV assembly facility in Abu Dhabi indicate that the UAE will soon be making its own electric cars for the internal and export markets.

Saudi Arabia Joins the EV Party

Besides the UAE, Saudi Arabia, another leading economy in the Middle East, has also made moves to secure its place in the burgeoning EV market.

Last month, the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology announced that the U.S. EV giant Lucid Motors Company is set to open a local factory, where it will produce 150,000 electric cars annually by 2027.

And just this month, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced that the kingdom will be launching its own electric car brand, Ceer, in partnership with BMW and the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn.

The joint venture between the Saudi Public Investment Fund and Foxconn will license component technology from BMW for use in the vehicle development process, with the goal to roll out the first EVs by 2025.

On the micro-mobility front, several micro-mobility startups have launched in Saudi Arabia in recent years, including Hop On, Dabeeb and Gazal.

Another Saudi startup, SPIDERS, which launched last year to introduce the pay-as-you-ride e-scooter concept to the country, secured $1.4 million in a pre-seed funding round in March to expand operations.

International players have no doubt been watching with interest, with Berlin-based e-scooter rentals company Tier launching in Riyadh and Jeddah in June, marking its second and third Middle Eastern locations after Dubai.

Meanwhile, global e-mobility firm Bird announced Wednesday (Nov. 9) that it is launching its first Middle Eastern venture in Qatar, just in time for the FIFA World Cup.

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