High oil prices spark 4×4 fever in Persian Gulf countries

riginally at http://www.wlns.com/Global/story.asp?S=4124801&nav=0RbQ

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Sales of sport utility vehicles have been crippled by soaring fuel prices in North America and Europe. And some say the S-U-V’s demise as a family car is near.

But that’s not so in the Arab lands of the Persian Gulf.

Roughly one-third of cars on the road in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf are S-U-Vs. And annual sales increases are jumping by double digits in most places.

Buyers in the Gulf want four-by-fours big, with V-8 engines, seating for seven or more and as much gas-sucking air conditioning as possible.

They want the bulky four-wheel-drives mainly because they’re perceived as safer on roads plagued with some of the world’s most reckless drivers.

Dealers and automakers say there is also a prestige factor to owning a flashy S-U-V.


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