Why Did Chevy Unveil the Monstrous ZR1 Corvette in Dubai?

Dubai, city of cranes, is home to the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa), and a premier grower of artificial islands (google Palm Jumeirah). Yesterday, this tax-free emirate on the Persian Gulf played host to another spectacle of prodigiousness: the reveal of our homegrown superhero, the 755-hp Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Clearly they do it big out here. Still, it might be natural to ask, “Why launch the baddest Corvette in the Las Vegas of the Middle East, when we have the real Las Vegas here in Nevada?”

So we did. The car’s executive chief engineer, Tadge Juechter, told us there’s a big fan base for the car here, “and it really started with the new one [C7].” Indeed, there’s an active Corvette club in the United Arab Emirates, established in 2007, with its own website, mission statement, and roughly 75 active members. The club was there in force at the car’s reveal.

Chevrolet’s global boss, Alan Batey, concurred: “We have a long history in the Middle East, and we have a very passionate following, with Corvette always one of the favorites. With Dubai becoming a global icon, we felt it would be a great place to show the most powerful and fastest Corvette ever—the ZR1.”

In addition to those rational reasons, we might speculate on some irrational ones: Cars, i.e., non-crossover-type vehicles, aren’t DOA over here, and the market for supercars continues to grow with the local economy. And though gas isn’t quite Saudi low in Dubai (it’s about $2 a gallon), no one looks at you funny if your car yowls with a mega-horsepower V-8. But maybe most important for the Plastic Fantastic, the Bowling Green Bomber, the car even many a red-blooded American would make hajj for, is that the ZR1 is a true exotic over here, as potent a symbol of exclusivity as any Lamborghini, despite its resolute affordability.

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