Our understanding of history and current events tends to emphasize the unusual, the extraordinary, or the extreme. This reflects the prejudice of the historian or newsman more than anything else. It is easy to forget that, in every age, the average person has gone about his business the best he can, trying to make his way in the world, and putting one foot in front of the other in that great marathon called Life.
The artisan patiently tinkers with his handicrafts; the cultivator of the field moves forward with the regularity of the seasons; and the businessman frets over his accounts and ledgers. None of them—these anonymous men–receives much attention from the historian, since their activities are not glamorous: but without them, the amusements of kings, and the frivolous diversions of presidents and prime ministers, would hardly be possible. Let us, for once, celebrate the achievements of someone who has not been in the news very much.
Our story here comes from the Middle East, a region that in recent years has been in dire need of some good news. Yet despite the rumblings of war, the spread of chaos, and the ecstasies of destruction that have been visited on the region, the patient majority go about their way, and continue the forward movement of economy and society.
The Fast and Furious movie franchise’s seventh film features the first luxury car manufactured by an Arab company. W Motors was founded in 2012 in Beirut by a visionary designer named Ralph Debbas, who now works as the company’s CEO. The company’s first luxury car is the $3.4 million Lykan Hypersport, which can go from 0 to 60 mph. in less than 3 seconds. Its top speed is around 395 kph.
The vehicle is produced in Italy by Magna Steyr, and only seven of them have been made thus far. Actor Vin Diesel drives the Hypersport in the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious series.
W Motors is the Arab world’s first luxury car manufacturer, and operates out of Dubai. Auto companies tend to go where the money is; historically, auto manufacturers face a bleak future unless they can find access to large amounts of funding.
Although the price tag of the Lykan Hypersport is so high mainly because of the installation of some precious gems in its frame (presumably optional), there is a market for these vehicles, especially in the Gulf countries. The buyer of such a car is more interested in “lifestyle” than anything else, and wants a high-performance piece of machinery at his control.
For those who are interested in such things, the Hypersport has a 3.7 liter 780 bhp, twin-turbo flat-six engine. We are told that it is faster than the Lamborghini Aventador. The car also features a so-called “global servicing system” which gives the owner the ability to have access to technical support at all times. Debbas also explains that the car features “flying doctors” who will actually fly to the owner—anywhere in the world—to perform maintenance. Other complimentary “extras” are a concierge service that owners are entitled to.
Debbas is not worried about his competitors. In fact, he has a healthy attitude of abundance when it comes to such things. When asked about the presence of other luxury manufacturers, he says, “I respect all of them. We work with all of them.” In this, he shares the healthy attitude of the successful entrepreneur: the ability not to be worried about what other people are doing.
Debbas started his company at the ripe age of 22 in Beirut. He called it “W Motors” because as a child he had been given the nickname “wolf” and liked the sound of it. When he began his dream, there were no predecessors that he could base his business plan on; everything had to be done from scratch, and maybe this was a good thing.
The company now has a managerial staff of about fifteen in Dubai, about seventy engineers and builders in Italy, and some in Germany. He understands that, in order to get his company off the ground, he will need to work with those European companies that have the generations of experience to draw on.
The first step is to use the tools that are out there; after that, he plans to build an entire Arab automotive industry. “We are not only building a car. We are building an industry, we are building a name, we are building something historical. Every step of the way, we’re getting the support of the Arab nations that are helping us to be proud, and raising the heritage.”
But Debbas does not want to cater only to the super-rich. One model has been designed for the Dubai police force, and there are plans for a moderately priced SUV. An actual manufacturing plant will be opened in Dubai very soon.
No one can predict the future, but at this point, Debbas seems to be doing all the right things. He has secured the patronage of the wealthy and powerful in the Gulf, his product has been featured in a US film franchise, and he has boundless energy and optimism.
The rest, as has been said, is in the hands of Fate.
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