News that Dubai’s government holding company is seeking to have interest payments due on billions of pounds in loans taken out to fund Dubai World, a development that includes some of the world’s most prestigious real estate projects, deferred until next May will no doubt be sending some uncomfortable thoughts through the minds Europe’s top car company officials today.

In recent times countries right across the Middle East have taken advantage of the economic downturn and subsequent rout in the stock market by pouring vast amounts of money into Europe’s car industry through increased holdings – to the point where the governments of the likes of Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia now hold substantial interests in many of Europe’s established car makers.

The arrival of Middle Eastern investment has helped shore up plunging stock prices as well as provide new avenues of capital to fund new model development at a time when borrowing from traditional institutions has proved difficult.