Qatar’s first homegrown supercar feels the heat for its distinctive design. Jon Jensen reports.
First aired on CNN International on February 8, 2016.
By Jon Jensen, CNN and Thomas Page, for CNN
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Luxury sports cars are a common sight on the streets of wealthy Gulf states. It’s not uncommon to drive alongside a rare Ferrari or Maserati, sometimes several at a time. Even Dubai’s police force has a Lamborghini on its squad.
Most of these high-end sports cars are imported from Europe. But that could change this year with the launch of the Elibriea — a new concept designed and built almost entirely in Qatar.
The gold prototype, designed to resemble a stealth fighter jet, was unveiled at the 16th annual Qatar Motor Show in Doha. It sports a V8, 525-horsepower engine.
The Elibriea is the brainchild of 27-year-old Abdul Wahab Ziaullah, a Pakistani resident of Qatar who graduated with a degree in engineering from Texas A&M’s branch in Doha.
“I’m a fan of doing something creative and developing a product,” Ziaullah told CNN over the telephone. “It feels awesome to have accomplished such a cumbersome and such a lovely task. Because if you develop a whole sports car, you can develop almost essentially anything.”
Ziaullah first drew sketches of his future supercar more than a decade ago, while he was still in high school.
The vehicle’s current build took two and a half years to make, as well as substantial backing, although Ziaullah won’t reveal exactly how much.
He received funding after making a successful pitch to Qatar’s National Research Fund. The Ali Bin Ali Group, a local business in the tiny Gulf state, also contributed to the car.
“It’s an advanced prototype that we can later market and manufacture professionally,” Imad Hashim, the Corporate Communications Manager of the Ali Bin Ali Group, told Reuters earlier this month. “This idea won’t stop here at the prototype stage. It has big potential to grow.”
The car’s futuristic design and “Made in Qatar” stamp seemed to impress many visitors at the auto show.
“It is a very nice and modern concept. It’s suitable for speed cars that are popular here,” one attendee, Mohamed Attiya, told Reuters. “It’s a good development and accomplishment for the country.”
But not everyone is a fan.
The Elibriea’s sharp edges on the front and rear have provoked strong reactions online. Comments on a YouTube video of the car’s unveiling called the car “hideous” and “atrocious,” while one writer for automotive enthusiasts website Driven, asked, “Is this the world’s ugliest sports car?”
Ziaullah is taking all the criticism in stride. “The fact that there are a large group of people who love the design is enough for me to pursue it on the development stage,” he said. He’s hoping his new car concept will appeal to niche buyers, and aims to roll them off to market later this year.