Digital issues of National Oil & Lube News, the trade magazine for the preventive maintenance industry
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March 2017 | NOLN 27 I n the 21st century, the world's economy is truly linked together like never before. As China, and even parts of Africa, experience a burgeoning middle class, this has increased the demand for Middle East- ern oil. The result of demand for black gold has meant, even as prices fell in the United States thanks to increased Ameri- can production, demand for raw resourc- es from Saudi Arabia and its neighbors has literally allowed skyscrapers to rise in the desert. At the same time, these nations have begun to think forward beyond just oil production for their future economic growth and have built tourist economies to supplement that growth. is, in turn, has created a new middle class in the Kingdom of Sau- di Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). All these factors equate to more cars than ever before on the roads of the Arabian Peninsula. Where there are more cars on the road, there needs to be auto service providers. e quick lube industry has recently found a steady place in the Saudi market. Quick isn't just the time it takes to service a vehicle; quick could also be used to describe the growth the country's largest quick lube chain has seen in the past decade. It was only three years ago that Saudi Arabia-based Petromin, which had 308 Petromin Express stations in operation at the time, forecast it would have 500 quick lubes up and running by the year 2020. Last year, it actually surpassed this goal, when it opened its 646 station in the Arabian Peninsula. ey also have 13 fuel/convenience stations, 19 repair facilities/full-service auto care workshops and six car dealership showrooms in opera- tion. As a result, at the tail end of 2016, it vastly revised its goal. "Our new target is to have 1,400 stations by 2020," said Wa- heed Shaikh, COO of the Al-Dabbagh Group and executive direc- tor, Petromin. "Our core market will remain in Saudi Arabia, and we expect to launch four new stations every week. We opened 200 stations in 2016 and plan to keep that volume of expansion going throughout 2017 and beyond." Meeting this goal may be seen as no small feat, but the compa- ny has reliably shown it is more than up to the task. Until recently, most drivers in the Kingdom had to go to the dealer for even basic automotive maintenance. In many cases, it had to be scheduled in advance and would require 24-48 hours for the service to be performed. e only alternative was low- priced — but what could be described as unprofessional or even low-quality — independent shops that often didn't stock the necessary parts. With practically nothing in the middle, Petro- min Express seized this opportunity, which has resulted in rapid growth.