Qatar auto show aims to be 'Geneva of the Middle East'

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor of Automotive News Europe
The people organizing the first Qatar auto show have big plans.

"We want to be the Geneva of the Middle East," Qatar Tourism Authority Chairman Ahmed Abdullah M. Al-Nuaimi said Wednesday during a press conference in Paris to discuss the country's bid to be an auto show heavyweight.

With apologies to the biennial autumn shows in Frankfurt and Paris, Geneva's annual spring gathering is the best show in Europe.

Some of the reasons that Geneva stands out include its manageable size, its picturesque backdrop and its ability to draw world premiers from all automakers rather than being a "French" show like Paris or a German-driven event such as Frankfurt.

Qatar show organizers said that Volkswagen Group, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, BMW Group, Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover, Chevrolet and many others are expected to have displays at the event, which takes place Jan. 26-29.

While it is very unlikely the show will host a world debut in 2011, Al-Nuaimi said that will not bother him because he is taking a long-term view.

"We are investing for the years to come," he said. "We want to host a world premier within seven years."

For a country that is about four times smaller in size than Switzerland, that would be quite an accomplishment.