Desert Buggies

Arabs hail London-style taxis

For years the taxicab service at the Jidda international airport belied the fact that the city is a booming Saudi Arabian business center. The taxis, often dirty, run down and operated by quarrelsome drivers, gave travelers a poor introduction to the country. Now they have a more genteel alternative, thanks to Jidda Businessman Ibrahim Khonkar. He decided that what Jidda needed was a fleet of London taxis, those boxy, roomy cabs that have become something of a movable landmark in Britain.

Khonkar, 41, a former government weatherman, imported 50 London cabs at about $14,000 apiece and set them loose...

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