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When the first car was introduced to Saudi Arabia 98 years ago

Cars replaced camels as the main mode of transportation in the 1950s and were widely used across the country. (Supplied)

Historians have noted that the first car appeared in Saudi Arabia in 1921 brought by King AbdulAziz 11 years before the unification of the country when he was nicknamed the Sultan of Nejd.

Cars became widespread in certain areas in the kingdom in 1926 to become another mode of transportation next to camels which were the main method of transport.

Historians stated that the first cars were used in Hail and Mecca followed by Riyadh where the Saudi Arabia’s king rode the first car in 1922.

Different car brands were called different names by locals, where the ‘Dementy’ was considered the most famous car brand, along with ‘Internash’ and ‘al-Fert’.

Ancient car plates

With the formation of a new system to regulate this new mode of transportation, car owners in Saudi Arabia kept car plates to prove ownership of the vehicles. The car plates had different symbols including two swords and a palm tree, as well as camel symbols.

Saudi Arabian tribes and families also embossed their camels on one side with a mark that would be known among all other tribes so that it was clear who owned them.

A car enthusiast kept a car plate bearing the al-Saudi camel symbol which symbolizes two rings and a hammer on the right of the plate. The plate also had the number 36 written on it, which some believe means that it was the 36th car to enter the kingdom.

The first cars to exist in Saudi Arabia were accompanied with several funny stories about how some desert tribes ran away when they first saw a car being driven through the desert, while others thought it was the devil.

Cars replaced camels as the main mode of transportation in the 1950s and were widely used across the country. Car ownership increased even more in the 1970s.

Sandy desert areas were considered the most challenging to drive through, at a time where main roads were still not fully constructed. A lack of gas stations was also a challenge which made drivers carry their own oil containers.

Cars and Saudi poetry

Cars even replaced camels in poetry where poems were a very common hobby in those days. The poems usually started with the kind of transportation then get into the topic.

The car became one of the most important means of transportation in the Arabian Peninsula, and was immortalized by thousands of poems even specifying the vehicle’s type and strength. Car are still mentioned in popular poetry even with the emergence of different means of transport, including trains, planes and ships.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 13 February 2018 KSA 17:46 - GMT 14:46
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