Nice to see Indian companies expanding overseas UAE inaugurates first automobile assembly plant in Ras al Khaimah Khaleej Times reported that UAE's first automobile assembly plant, which marked a defining moment the country's industrialization drive, was inaugurated by Mr Shaikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi supreme council member and ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. The state of the art plant, set up at the Al Ghail Industrial Park in Ras Al Khaimah, is a JV between the Ashok Leyland, the flagship company of Hinduja Group of India and the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority or Rakia. The JV, inked in 2006 with a phased investment outlay of USD 50 million, has implemented the initial phase at an investment of USD 20 million. Dedicating the hi tech plant at a ceremony, Mr Shaikh Saud said that the new facility was a testimony to the growing partnership between UAE and India. He added that "It is a partnership that has existed for centuries, that is rooted in a common tradition and the shared values of Asia. We are proud to be partners in growth with a world class organization like the Hinduja Group and I look forward to see many more products and opportunities being created out of this partnership." Dr Khater Massaad CEO of Rakia said that the new factory would be a great fillip to the local economy. He added that "It will provide more employment opportunities, world-class vehicles and the Made in RAK tag will surely find great acceptance in the local markets which will in turn help the economy grow." Speaking to Khaleej Times, Mr Srichand P Hinduja chairman of the EUR 25 billion Hinduja Group said that the JV plant marked a milestone in the centuries old UAE India ties. He added that "Our group already has a strong presence in the region. The opening of the plant demonstrates our increasing commitment to the region. We look forward to further fostering the UAE India partnership by facilitating stronger cooperation in several areas, including exchange of expertise and cross border investments." He added that "The support and cooperation that we have received from the authorities for setting up the factory has been overwhelming and our goal is to make this plant a global benchmark." Following the inauguration of the plant, Mr Shaikh Saud also launched the AVIA range of trucks manufactured by Ashok Leylandâ€™s Czech venture, AVIA Ashok Leyland Ltd. Mr Shaikh Saud said that the RAK government has strived to foster the right environment for growth by providing one stop shop for licensing and offering cost effective strategies and facilities to investors. He added that "We understand that the fast changing business environment of today calls upon governments to be equally responsive to change. So we have offered open access to investors, not as a privilege but as a right, because they are the best teachers for us on how to understand and adapt to change." The factory will have an initial annual capacity of 2,000 buses and trucks of international styling and quality. The AVIA range of trucks, currently produced at the Prague headquartered plant, would also roll out from the RAK plant by next year with a planned capacity of 2,000 trucks per year. The D-Line series of Avia trucks will complement Ashok Leylandâ€™s medium and heavy duty trucks, in serving the Middle East and Africa markets. Mr Dheeraj G Hinduja chairman of Ashok Leyland said that the company is aspiring to become one of the top 10 global commercial vehicle companies in the next five years. He added that "The first models to roll out from the new RAK factory will be the D75-140, a 7.5 tonne truck powered by a 140 hp engine, and the D120-180 [12-tonne, 180-hp engine], with wheel base options." Mr Dheeraj said that "The company is looking to expand its facilities because we are growing a lot more within Middle East, specifically the GCC countries, and we feel this is the right base to service those markets from. The RAK plant will play a vital role in the companyâ€™s global operations and said that the export oriented facility would serve the Middle East, Africa and CIS markets." Mr R Seshasayee MD of Ashok Leyland said that "This facility is an important building block in our quest to be a global player. Ashok Leyland has enjoyed a dominant position in the popular bus market of the Gulf region and therefore it was only natural for us to set up a manufacturing base closer to our customers."