It’s easy to take for granted many of the familiar companies we cherish in Kuwait. They have become so much a part of our lives that we rarely reflect on them. Typically they have their roots in the days of the middle of twentieth century when Kuwait was a very different place, and are the product of more than one generation of hard work and business acumen. This is true of none more so than Zayani.
The mid-1950s saw the Zayani family establish their automotive dealership in Kuwait. At the time the country was experiencing its transition from a small Gulf port whose strength had been built up over the years on trading, particularly for the period through to the 1940s through the trading of pearls, towards that of an economy whose future assets lay underground in the form of oil which was now being extracted and exported to a post-war world hungry for redevelopment.
It was into this scenario that Zayani first introduced two major British car marques of the era - Land Rover and Austin. Of course Land Rover needs no introduction today, and even at the time it was a product which was highly sought after in a country whose full road network had yet to be established. For those police, military, and oil-workers who needed to move around Kuwait in the 1950s the Land Rover was the firm favourite.
It was a similar story with Austin in Kuwait. An influx of expatriate, and largely British, workers demanded products which they were familiar with. The small Austin was a perfect complement to the urban-based workers and their families on the streets of the new Ahmadi township and in Kuwait City.
The solid business generated by these two iconic British marques laid an equally solid foundation on which Zayani’s motor business was built and through which it continues today.
Having steadily built a reputation for quality of product, customer service and, of course, after-sales service as the years passed by Zayani added the prestigious Rolls Royce and Bentley marques to the showroom, together with Rover. This way the heyday of the British motor manufacturing industry, with many models that endure as classics today being introduced to the marketplace.
However, the path of business has not always been without its challenges. The Arab League’s boycott of British and some other international goods meant that Zayani were suddenly left without a product to sell. Not one to sit around waiting for events to change, Zayani secured the dealership of both the Daihatsu and Tata brands.
On the strength of this the company won the contract for the supply of Tata buses to the Ministry of Education for all school transportation. For a generation every child in Kuwait went to school on a Zayani-supplied bus.
As the boycott ended, and normal business resumed, Zayani added Jaguar its portfolio as it further sought to cement itself in the quality sector of Kuwait’s automobile trade.
Throughout the years Zayani have invested and reinvested in their products and their service. It is through this consistent quest to provide their customers with the finest brand experience that Zayani have retained both their business partners and customers alike - both of who benefit from their commercial integrity.
Their eagerness to continue this momentum can be shown to perhaps no greater degree than when looking at events surrounding Saddam’s barbaric invasion and subsequent occupation of Kuwait.
Kuwait, and Zayani, were stopped in their tracks. Many years of judicious growth and investment were laid to waste by Saddam’s troops who set fire to Zayani’s al-Rai showroom not once, but twice. After liberation there was little that remained, except the good-will that had been engendered during the previous years.
Immediately the company began an ambitious plan to rebuild and restructure. Initially their Daihatsu 4x4s and Tata trucks, together with some Land Rovers, were much in demand - all essential tools for the rebuilding of a country whose infrastructure had been catastrophically impaired.
A decision was quickly made to forge ahead and rebuild the al-Rai showroom, Zayani’s was the first new showroom to be completed when it opened in 1994. It didn’t stop there, and as the years passed by the showroom has been constantly remodelled reflecting contemporary design and offering a heightened customer experience.
In 1996 Ferrari and Maserati also joined with Zayani.
Theirs is necessarily one of the most personal of services. There has to be a great demonstration of personal respect and trust on both sides when dealing with products and expectations at such a level. In today’s 21st century there is a distinct advantage in retaining high levels of integrity.
Over the years that have passed Zayani have built an enviable level of trust between themselves and their public as the supplier of some of the world’s very finest products.
Today, Al-Zayani Trading Company is Kuwait’s sole importer of fine vehicles from Jaguar, Ferrari, Bentley, Maserati, Bugatti, Tata, Daihatsu and London Taxi. We think the future, built on a rock-solid foundation of more than half-a-century of motor trade experience, appears bright.
First published in Men's Passion issue #30 April 2011