No criminal motive in airport accident

Updated 08 April 2013
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No criminal motive in airport accident

The death of two Iranian pilgrims and the injuries that other passengers sustained at Haj Terminal’s Gate 13 on Thursday was an accident that did not involve criminal intent, said Khaled Al-Harbi, director of Haj and Umrah Affairs at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
Two Iranian pilgrims were killed and four others were injured after a service truck crashed into the departure lounge of the international airport.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has set up a committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the tragic incident. Al-Harbi attributed the gate crash to a malfunction in the truck’s brakes.
A thick wall will be built between the passengers' lounge on the ground floor and the runway to ensure the security of passengers, he said.
“One of the injured pilgrims has left the hospital after receiving treatment and is presently residing at a hotel in Jeddah, awaiting a flight back to Tehran. Another injured pilgrim, Hadi Hasan Ali, is receiving treatment at a private hospital. Although he sustained head injuries, his condition is stable,” Muhammad Sitari, an official of the Iranian Haj and Umrah delegation, told a local daily.
GACA spokesman Khaled Al-Khaibari stated that any questions regarding the fatal accident should be forwarded to Saudi Airlines, as the truck involved in the accident belonged to the airline’s subsidiary for ground services. 
Abdullah Al-Ajhar, assistant director of public relations at Saudi Airlines, emphasized that the incident is under investigation by airport authorities. 
The truck driver, an Indian citizen, parked the truck close to the aircraft to perform maintenance services to the toilets. However, he did not apply the handbrake, which led to the collision of the truck into the aircraft stairs.
The impact of the collision was so powerful that the truck steered off-course, crashing into the glass wall of the departure lounge area and hurled into a crowd of pilgrims.  
The two injured Iranians were immediately taken to King Fahd General Hospital. 
According to Sami Badawood, director of the Health Administration in Jeddah, the Iranian consul general requested the hospital to transfer the injured pilgrims to a private hospital to receive medical attention under the consulate’s supervision, even though they were already being treated. One of the injured men, who suffered serious head trauma, required scanning and continuous medical monitoring, Badawood added.  
The bodies of the deceased are still being preserved at King Fahd General Hospital.


Al-Ula Royal Commission launches second phase of university scholarship program

Updated 32 min 34 sec ago
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Al-Ula Royal Commission launches second phase of university scholarship program

  • High-quality education will make students ‘valuable assets’ in transformation of the region
JEDDAH: The Royal Commission for Al-Ula has launched the second phase of its overseas scholarship program, giving students the chance to study at universities in the US, UK, France and Australia.
The program is intended to broaden the horizons of Saudi students, creating more rounded graduates with wider experiences of foreign cultures and practices.
The students will also learn the languages of their host countries, which will aid them in later life depending on what path they choose, and encouraging interaction and exchanges between the Al-Ula region and the rest of the world.
Rami Al-Sakran, capabilities development manager for the commission, said the Al-Ula scholarship program was one of four strands in a community development plan.
“We have four different units, sector planning and business licensing so that covers economic development, with community engagement and human capability under the social development plan,” he told Arab News.
The second phase of the scholarship program will run for five years following the positive response to the first phase, which was launched last year. The second phase has been expanded to accommodate 300 students and is open to all genders.
Last September, 165 students were sent to the US, UK and France with Australia to focus on fields such as hospitality, tourism, agriculture, archaeology and heritage.
Many residents from the area had migrated to larger cities because of the lack of job opportunities, he said, so it was important to engage and employ locals first.
“We’ll flood the equation. We’ll see people coming in and our priority is the local community and to provide them with jobs. We want these jobs that we’ll create to be filled by the locals first.
“We’ve currently provided jobs, whether directly or indirectly, some of them temporary and others permanent. At Winter in Tantora, we have volunteers, ushers, drivers as this is seasonal but we’ve established a database and some jobs are permanent, whether they’re directly employed by our CEO or some contract.”
Al-Sakran said locals were key to the success of turning Al-Ula into a major tourist destination.
“Locals, locals, locals. Without the locals, we can’t succeed. We have a very transparent relationship, it’s a two-way street with them. We cooperate with them and communicate with them on every basis. We have a strong relationship with the governor of Al-Ula and we listen to the locals.
“Whether it was our social or economical development, as you can see Winter in Tantora has a major socio-economic impact on the area and ... the locals are working everywhere here and that’s what we want. It’s theirs. We’ll unveil it to the Kingdom ... that’s the idea, to make it a strong and significant destination for all.”