Monday, June 28, 2010
So the big news today is that Shanfari Automotive merged with Zubair Automotive's Dodge, Jeep & Chrysler brands to form Dhofar Automotive. A 70% - 30% joint venture (in Zubairs favour, of course) will see a new flagship showroom built in Wattayah (where else?!) and the closure of the existing showrooms & service centres in Azaiba and Al Khuwair (or is that MQ, never really been sure what to call that area). A new service centre is also being planned in Seeb near the airport which may be converted into a showroom in the future.

So what's the news here then? Having nearly bought a Dodge Charger last year, I went to both Shanfari and Zubair for quotes. When I went to Shanfari first, I said "Oh but the guys at Zubair were willing to give me this price, and free servicing for x years, and a years free insurance". I said that having absolutely no idea whether they would actually offer all that, but the response from the Shanfari guys was: ok, well for you we can offer you this very special price, and match that offer. Now having a firm offer in hand, I went to Azaiba to see the Zubair people and showed them the offer and said that I'd rather buy from Zubair blah blah blah, and Zubair ended up offering me a price 900 rials below sticker price, with full options, 3 years servicing and some insurance deal too, all with a financing plan to boot.

That is the benefit of a competitive market. Shanfari and Zubair have obviously decided that they can make more profits by monopolising the only un-monopolised brands in the Oman automotive market and mark my words: Pricing will increase. And lets not even start talking about the pricing of the spare parts. One only has to look at the plight of local Omani businessman Tariq al Kiyumi and his battle with Bahwan for Toyota parts.

Shanfari had a fairly good reputation for it's service department (even winning a coveted Other Oman Automotive Award for best Sports car mechanic and best spare parts dealership) which offered usually cheaper parts and usually better service than Zubair did. Hopefully Shanfari's service team will get to call the shots in the newly formed Dhofar Automotive. I doubt it though.

In other news, Oman have been busy cranking up their commodities exports. the Ministry of National Economy recently issued the monthly statistical bulletin for May 2010 (yes OK things are a bit slow, its the summer). Contained within that bulletin, is the Foreign Trade report which amongst other things shows a significant jump in Chemical products (125.9%), Plastics & rubbers (125.3%) and Minerals (88.6%) exports. Should any of you be savy investors, you might want to take a punt on some listed companies in those market sectors before they post their results. Could be a nice little earner. Also, notably, Transport Equipment imports (aka cars!) have dropped 35% in the last 12 months from Jan '09 - Jan '10. Now doesn't that tell a story?!

And in a follow up to the Oman Rail network (I like trains) some more information has emerged on the planned network. The Sohar-Muscat section (260 km) will have eight passenger stations and an unknown number of cargo stops; the Muscat-Duqm section (526 km) will have nine passenger stations and two cargo stops; the Sohar-Buraimi section (140 km) will have four passenger stations and two cargo stops; and Sohar-Khatmat Melaha section (58 km) will have four passenger stations and one cargo stop. I should imagine Oman Air and local bus companies / cabbies will not be too pleased with the number of planned passenger stops. Especially because the real benefit of rail is in the movement of goods, not passengers. As evidenced by the rail networks of North America (almost entirely goods these days).

Approval has been given for the construction of two lines for the railway track which will be operated at a speed of 200 km/h for passenger trains, and 80 km-120 km for cargo trains. The specification of the tracks is for speeds up to 350 km/h - potentially an upgrade there then!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all though, is that the trains will be operated by electricity. I would have thought that Diesel would have been a much better option. Perhaps the people in charge haven't noticed the considerable demands on the electricity network here in Oman?

And lastly, what on earth happened with England last night? And am I right in assuming that the linesman didn't award the goal because he was too slow to actually get to a place to do his job? I guess it's Brazil's for the taking now then!

le fin.


Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

And poor Mexico, with that first off-side goal awarded to Argentina:'( waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!

I like to cheer for the teams that have little chance.

ynotoman said...

the reduced number of car carriers and Toyotas huge special offer sign make it looks like life is tough for the big 3 .
Zubairs bought up the OHI car franchise a few years ago - so there are only two left - Moosa and Mohsin - to fall to either one of the Bahwans or Zubair.
Having passenger stops at all the places on the Batina is great - but the map shows the route stopping far outside Muscat principal work/residential areas - but who will travel from place to place on the Batina - its the rush hour that needs sorting

Anonymous said...

I'm not being flippant when I ask this; it really is an honest question: why would you buy an American car? They are crap.

-Omani in US

Anonymous said...

Rubbish anonymous, rubbish.

Sythe said...

Well, I didn't buy an American car in the end. I bought a 2nd German one instead. I was only considering the Charger because of it's size and comfort. Not all American cars are crap!

Blewyn said...

The Jeep Wrangler is a cracking car, especially for Oman !

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