The first car to ever enter the country is driven by Philippe Skaff. The car could fit 13 people
Isabelle Bustros is the first Lebanese woman to own a car (Bentley)
Gebran Elias Fernaini is the first person to receive a driving license in the country
Selim Boutros Sayegh is the first person to receive a taxi driving license. Youssef Ibrahim Tabet is the first person to receive a truck driving license. Marguerite Jeffrey Zimmerman is the first women to receive a driving license in November of that year
The AIA is founded
The first car ads are published in the local press
The first automobile race is organized in Lebanon. President Ibrahim Saad wins on his Essex Terraplane, beating Halim Ghandour chief of Beirut’s Police
The first official Motor Show, organized by the AIA, is held, in honor of King Faysal’s visit to Lebanon
The first edition of the new Motor Show is held, thanks to the efforts of the AIA and the late Antoine Choueiri’s
The 2010 edition of the Motor Show is held to great success
Established in 1923 under the French mandate, Association Des Importateurs d’Automobiles is amongst the oldest and most active organizations in Lebanon, playing a fundamental role in the country’s economic and social growth over the years.
Originally founded by 3 entrepreneurs with a growing passion for automobiles, the AIA counts among its members 28 dealers representing 55 different brands of cars and trucks.


The history and legacy of cars in Lebanon are in fact intrinsically related to that of the AIA, whereby one its founding members, Selim Saad, was first to import and sell trucks on a commercial basis, in 1919  after having seen the French army transport its troops and equipments to Syria on the Berliet trucks, prompting him to head to France with an intent to import a fleet of Berliet trucks and cars, which he readily did soon after.
Up to this date, and before the First World War, a number of individuals had imported cars for personal, non-commercial usage, including members of the Sursock, Daouk, and Medawar families.


In 1921  at the tender age of 18, Charles Corm, future president of the AIA, was first to import Ford cars to Lebanon, and the first ever to have conducted a feasibility study on the automotive sector in the Middle East.


Between 1919 and 1923  the Khairallah family became the exclusive agent for Chevrolet, Kettaneh for Dodge and then Chrysler (including Plymouth and DeSoto), N. Boukhater for Nash and Diamond T, Hibri for Buick, La Salle, Open, and Vauxhall, while the Hoss family became the sole agent for the Mack trucks and the Sabra for the legendary Studebaker.


The new-found popularity and love for cars and trucks, coupled with Lebanese’s commercial ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills, spun a whole new business, whereby various car repair shops opened up in and around Beirut, as did spare parts stores selling original parts directly imported from manufacturing plants in Europe and the United States. Among the first importers of car parts were Michel Andraous, Alfred Tamraz, and the Chahrouri family.


In 1923  to safeguard the rights of car importers, the AIA was founded and rapidly began to input its mark on the industry by helping establish the credit law of 1935  which protects car dealers from defaults on payment, a law that is still upheld today.


By the year the growth of their operations was such that Corm, Kettaneh, and Saad expanded the geographical scope of their operations to cover the markets of Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq, before venturing into the Iranian market in 1926/1927 After cars were docked in Beirut, they were then driven, through the deserts of Syria and Iraq, to their final destination. During one such conveys, F. Kettaneh barely made it through after the French aviation managed to pick up his trail in a Bedouin camp in the middle of the desert.