Malaysia's Proton Holdings has resumed exports to markets in the Middle East, with a shipment of 450 cars destined for the Jordanian city of Aqaba having left Port Klang this week.

With China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely) now its main strategic investor, the struggling Malaysian national car company is putting in place the foundations of a recovery for when it begins production of new Geely-based vehicles.

The first of these, the newly-facelifted 1.8L GeelyBoyue SUV, is expected to be launched in Malaysia in October.

Geely acquired a 49.9% stake in Proton Holdings from DRB-HicomBhd for MYR460m (US$115m) just over a year ago.

Proton expects similar car shipments to the Middle East to follow, with the next scheduled for in August, as it looks to rebuild its export business which had been reduced to a trickle in recent years. The automaker'slast major export shipment was in 2015, to Egypt.

Proton CEO Dr Li Chunrong said markets in the Middle East have high regard for products imported from other Islamic countries such as Malaysia.

The Malaysian automaker is also in the process of revamping its sales network in its home market, with a total of 109 sales (1S) and service and spare parts (2S) outlets expected to be upgraded to sales, service and spare parts (3S) and full-fledged 4S (including full-body repair) outlets by the end of the year.

The company expects to improve customer service with this network upgrade, which will coincide with the arrival of new Geely products to its line-up. Proton currently has 150 sales outlets nationwide.