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Monday, September 6, 1999 Published at 23:36 GMT 00:36 UK

World: Middle East

Gaddafi invents 'rocket car'

Gaddafi's rocket car is sleek and surprisingly stylish

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has invented a sleek James Bond-style car, which Libya says is the safest vehicle on earth.

John Simpson: "Thousands of Libyans are killed or injured on the roads each year"
The car was unveiled on the 30th anniversary of the revolution which propelled the Libyan leader to power.

The Saroukh el-Jamahiriya (Libyan rocket) a five-passenger saloon in a metallic Libyan revolutionary green with tinted windows, was launched at a special summit of the Organisation of African Unity organised by Colonel Gaddafi.

The car has the aerodynamic lines of conventional models but the front and rear ends are rocket-shaped.

The interior is replete with air bags, an inbuilt electronic defence system, and a collapsible bumper which protects passengers in head-on collisions.


Dukhali Al-Meghareff, chairman of the Libyan Arab Domestic Investment company which produced the prototype, billed it as revolutionary in automotive history.

[ image:  ]
He said it was developed from safety ideas conceived by Gaddafi.

The company plans to set up a factory next month in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, to start production.

"The leader spent so many hours of his valuable time thinking of an effective solution. It is the safest car produced anywhere," Mr Meghareff said.

"The invention of the safest car in the world is proof that the Libyan revolution is built on the happiness of man."

Image revamp

The BBC's John Simpson says that the invention is a response to the fact that thousands of Libyans are killed and injured on the roads every year.

[ image: Leader by day, car engineer by night]
Leader by day, car engineer by night
Mr Gaddafi has also been intent on reinventing his image since the lifting of sanctions against Libya in April.

The end of the sanctions followed the handover of two suspects wanted in connection with the 1988 Lockerbie air bombing.

Mr Al-Meghareff told a news conference at the rocket-car launch that Mr Gaddafi had spent his time during the sanctions "thinking of ways to preserve human life all over the world".

He added that the provocative name of the car was meant to highlight that while others made rockets to kill, Libya designed them for humane and peaceful purposes.

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