DUBAI: As the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit ends, Saudi Arabia and its allies have taken a historic step in restoring full diplomatic relations with Qatar after a three-year dispute.
Lexus, the luxury division of Japanese car brand Toyota, also emerged as a winner of the GCC reconciliation.
Driving through AlUla in a Lexus LX570SS model, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a cruise around the heritage sites on Tuesday.
The flashy model has 383-horsepower, 5.7-liter v8 engine and 7,000-lb towing capacity.
Lexus and Toyota vehicles have long been the best-selling car brands in Saudi Arabia, thanks to Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ), a family-owned diversified business founded in Jeddah in 1945 by Sheikh Abdul Latif Jameel.
The Saudi company became an official Toyota distributor in 1955 and began exporting and distributing Lexus cars in 1989. ALJ was importing and selling over 200,000 Toyota vehicles per year during the 1980s.
Toyota’s market share remains high in Saudi Arabia, hitting 35 percent in 2016.
In 2019, Toyota led car sales in the Kingdom by 27.7 percent. According to a YouGov study conducted by Arab News Japan in the same year, 56 percent of Arab respondents associated Japan with car manufacturing, and considered Toyota a favorite brand in high demand.
The study also found that 13 percent viewed Nissan and Lexus as favored automobiles.
Photos of the two royals emerged on social media and inspired reactions from Saudis, Qataris and Japanese Twitter users.
One Twitter user from Japan was proud to see Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and the Qatari emir take a cruise in the Lexus: “This is Toyota’s Lexus! Saudi Arabia recovered its diplomatic relations with Qatar. As a Japanese living in the Middle East, I’m a little proud of it.”
Another user from Saudi Arabia noted that Lexus gained some recognition from the GCC reconciliation.
Toyota is not the only Japanese firm to have strong business relationships in Saudi Arabia, with recent deals between the two nations including the Saudi Electricity Co. signing an agreement with Tokyo Electric Power Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Tecaoca Coco Energy Solutions Co. to implement electric vehicles and adapt them for Saudi use.