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Formula 1 in Bahrain, recall deadlines in UAE and FIAT's $ 1.5 million fine

The Middle East region had never been very famous for its automotive and motor-sport importance over the past decades. The most important international motor-shows and new model launches took place in Frankfurt and Geneva, the most important F1 races took place in Silverstone and Monza and recalls were taken very seriously in California and Munich.

But this now seems to be changing. The Middle East is now becoming important in both the automotive and motor-sport sector. The Dubai Motor Show is becoming one of the well-known international automotive shows with a few world premieres, the Bahrain F1 GP and the Abu Dhabi F1 GP are opening and ending the 2010 F1 season and recalls are now finally being taken serious in the gulf region, namely in the UAE.

And while Middle Eastern motor-sport fans were able to enjoy the rather boring 2010 Formula season-opener with the comeback of F1-legend Michael Schumacher, a lot of other 'normal' Middle Eastern car owners this week enjoyed the strict instructions of UAE's Ministry Of Economy to all automobile distributors in the country, instructing them to withdraw vehicles with technical faults within 5 days.

According to Dr. Al Nuwaimi, director of consumer protection, this takes effect from Monday.

During a meeting at the Ministry of Economy the decision was taken that the UAE automobile distributors provide details of faulty vehicles and a schedule of repairs.

Dr. Al Nuwaimi said that the numbers of vehicles with technical will be ascertained in a few days when the ministry obtains details from the auto dealers in the UAE.

Toyota's sole distributor in the UAE, Al Futtaim Motors, said they recalled 3.200 Toyota Avalon and Sequoia models due to the infamous accelerator pedals.

The Ministry of Economy also demanded a written report from the car dealers, and they agreed to form working groups and follow up.

Dr. Al Nuwaimi also confirmed that the ministry asked the auto distributors to provide full inventory of the numbers and types of cars that are found with technical defects and clarify the action-plan of each car dealer to deal with these defects and the required period of time to fix these faults.

Toyota Motor Company also confirmed that the models, Avalon and Sequoia (model year 2005-1010) are highly unlikely to experience the same potential accelerator problem due to the UAE's climatoc conditions.

Honda agent in the UAE, Trading Enterprises, began in coordination with the Ministry of Economy its service campaign for the 2001 and 2002 Honda Accord since March 1, in order to fix faulty air bags.

And while the ministries in the gulf region are still 'cooperating' and working together with the car dealers, the situation is slightly different in other parts of the world.

Just this week Brazil's Justice Ministry has fined Fiat S.p.A. 3 million reals ($1.5 million) for failing to recall thousands of FIAT Stilo cars built after 2004 despite an alleged rear-wheel hub problem. Fiat said it would recall the cars to allay consumers' concerns but would of course appeal against the ministry's decision.

I hope to see such strict and serious steps also taken in the Middle East and North Africa region soon.

Stay tuned for our detailed race coverage of today's Bahrain F1 Grand Prix here on later this evening.


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