King Salman opens mega airport in Madinah

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Updated 05 July 2015

King Salman opens mega airport in Madinah

JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman opened the new Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah on Thursday night.
He was met at the airport by Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman and Suleiman bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan, head of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA).
The king toured the facility, which has architecture reflecting the city’s traditions and heritage, a local publication reported on Friday.
The king listened to a briefing presented by Al-Hamdan on the airport’s sections, counters, duty-free market, restaurants and departure gates.
There was an opening ceremony held which started with a recitation from the Qur’an.
The new airport, built on an area of 4 million square meters, would in its first phase handle 8 million passengers a year, increasing the number to 18 million in the second phase, and then 40 million after the third and final phase.
GACA has been operating the airport on a trial basis since April to check systems. It is the first airport in the Kingdom constructed and operated entirely by the private sector.
The king left for Jeddah after the ceremony.
He was seen off by several princes, ministers and senior officials. On arrival at King Abdul Aziz International Airport, the king was welcomed by Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majid, and other princes.
King Salman has meanwhile sent a message to Jordan’s King Abdallah on strengthening bilateral ties, and taking coordinated action to serve the interests of Arab and Muslim nations.
Sami bin Abdullah Al-Saleh, Saudi Ambassador to Jordan, handed the message to Prince Faisal bin Al-Hussein.

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

AD DIRIYAH: The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”