US car giant Ford said on Tuesday that it is to restructure its global operations to try to drive growth in the Middle East.
The company is planning to set up its fifth global business unit - for the Middle East and Africa - with headquarters in Dubai.
The move, effective from January 1 2014, aims to "take advantage of profitable growth opportunities", Ford said in a statement.
Stephen Odell, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "The Middle East and Africa region is comprised of very diverse markets with different political, cultural and economic environments.
"Building a robust and profitable operation in this region requires a dedicated focus and clear understanding of how to support the unique conditions and customer needs in these markets."
Ford Motor Company also said it plans to launch 17 new or refreshed Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the next 24 months to accelerate growth in the Middle East and Africa.
"The Middle East and Africa is poised to become one of the next big automotive growth markets and we want to be there for these customers with great new cars and trucks," added Odell on day one of the Dubai International Motor Show.
"Ford and Lincoln sales have grown 60 percent in the Middle East over the past four years, and we expect total industry sales in the combined Middle East and Africa region to increase nearly 40 percent to around 5.5 million units by 2020."
Leading the new Ford Middle East and Africa region will be Jim Benintende, a 36-year Ford veteran who will oversee operations in all 47 regional markets.
Benintende has significant experience in the Middle East and Africa region, most recently as director, Ford Export Operations and Global Growth Initiatives. He also previously served in the Ford Middle East and North Africa region in various roles from 1994-2006.
"Our intention is to grow the Ford business while staying true to our principles of being active and supportive members of the community in the Middle East and Africa," said Benintende.
In the first three quarters of this year, Ford Middle East has recorded strong sales with a nearly 20 percent increase compared to the same period in 2012.
In total, there are more than 60 new Ford and Lincoln sales and service facilities serving customers in the region.For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.