The United Arab Emirates (UAE) seems like an ideal place for Tesla Motors. Clearly, the country has money, and people with money can afford Teslas — which nearly everyone seems to want. Additionally, UAE leadership — despite making a fortune and a half on oil & gas — seems to be keenly aware that the future is cleantech, and the future is coming faster than a Tesla Model S P100D.
Frankly, I think it’s hard to find the level of long-term planning and leadership (whether in government or business) that UAE’s top brass has shown. Masdar — a multi-billion-dollar cleantech company that integrates research & innovation (Masdar Institute of Science and Technology), investment (Masdar Capital), clean energy development (Masdar Clean Energy), and a physical center to convene cleantech leaders and stimulate cleantech progress (Masdar City) — was founded in 2006. That’s 2006, not 2016. That’s well before the solar boom, well before solar power’s growth, cost drops, and potential shocked the world. That’s long before battery prices dropped off a cliff. That’s long before wind and solar became the cheapest options for new electricity capacity.
Masdar City and Abu Dhabi are aching for a Tesla presence. The deserve one.
A couple of years ago, I noticed at least one Tesla Model S had already arrived, as I saw it parked in front of Abu Dhabi’s insanely luxurious Emirates Palace. One year later, I discovered that the car actually belongs to the Chairman of Masdar, formerly CEO of Masdar, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.
Today, I learned that the Vice Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also has a Tesla Model S … and a Tesla Supercharger. (Article coming.) A few other rich people have imported Tesla Model S electric sedans and Tesla Model X electric SUVs into the UAE. Some Tesla enthusiasts have even made a video asking Tesla to come to the UAE. Now, that’s just what the Silicon Valley giant is doing.
I received word today from a few people here in the UAE* that Tesla is going to open a store in the UAE next month. It seemed to be common knowledge (at least among some people in the know), but it wasn’t fully clear if there would be only one store (presumably in Dubai or Abu Dhabi) or multiple stores. It seems that Superchargers aren’t yet on the table, but Tesla and UAE leadership may just have that concealed a bit better.
I did reach out to Tesla for comment on several details regarding this news and the company indicated that it wasn’t ready to make any announcements. “We don’t have anything to share yet but will certainly keep you posted on any news relating to the UAE,” a representative told me.
There’s a lot more to reflect on regarding this news (combined with a wealth of impressions I’ve absorbed from Abu Dhabi this week and in previous years), but that’ll come in my next article since it seemed better as a separate monologue.
*Disclosure: I’m in the UAE for one week to cover Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, courtesy Masdar. Obviously, this scoop wasn’t on my agenda.
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