King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology unveils strategic drone program Saqr 1

The strategic Saqr 1 UAV is equipped with a KA satellite communication system that gives superiority and privilege to this aircraft to fly at a range of more than 2,500 km. (SPA)
Updated 12 May 2017
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King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology unveils strategic drone program Saqr 1

JEDDAH: The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) unveiled in Riyadh on Thursday the strategic drone program Saqr 1.
Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed, president of KACST, said the techniques used in this aircraft put it in the list of the world best UAVs.
“Saqr 1 is equipped with a KA satellite communication system that gives superiority and privilege to this aircraft to fly at a range of more than 2500 km,” he said.
He also stressed the ability of the aircraft to fly low and high when necessary, as well as the ability to carry missiles and guided bombs by the laser system and launch from different heights of 500 to 6,000 meters and up to 10 km with accuracy of less than 1.5 m.
Prince Turki pointed out that sensitive technologies were transferred to this project, such as rocket techniques and sensor systems including high-temperature thermal cameras and laser systems from several international companies with global experience.
The strategic UAV is characterized by its ability to fly at an average altitude of 20,000 feet and a flight time up to 24 hours. It also features automatic takeoff and landing.
It can also use parachutes in case of emergency. It can carry day and night cameras and can be equipped with radar techniques, electronic warfare techniques, electronic jamming and eavesdropping.
Prince Turki said: “The strategic aircraft is made of carbon fiber and glass, and is characterized by light weight and low consumption of fuel due to its good design and manufacturing efficiency.”
He added: “Saqr 1 was designed and manufactured by Saudi hands in KACST, where Saudi national cadres capable of manufacturing, operating and maintaining it were trained.”
“A single system consisting of two aircrafts and an operating room was developed,” he said. “It is a developed system of the first generation, which contains satellite communication and ammunitions.”
He pointed out that work is being undertaken on the third generation of this aircraft through the manufacture of four aircraft and an operating room ending in 2018.


Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

Updated 24 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

  • They start their engines and hit the roads throughout the Kingdom
  • End of driving ban is crowning achievement so far of Saudi Vision 2030

Women throughout Saudi Arabia waited for the stroke of midnight, turned the keys in the ignition, fired up their engines — and hit the road to a bright new future.

It was the moment they had waited for since King Salman issued the royal decree on September 26, 2017, to lift the driving ban on women. 

Just after midnight on Saturday and in the first minutes of Sunday, Samah Algosaibi grabbed the keys to her family’s 1959 Corvette C1 and drove out of the driveway of her beach house in Khobar.
“We are witnessing history in the making as we look toward the dawn of a promising future,” said Algosaibi, the first female board member of Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros.

“As a businesswoman in Saudi Arabia, I am grateful for the women’s empowerment movement taking place. Today, I am honored to be sitting behind the wheel of change.”

Another woman to hit the road after midnight was Lina Almaeena, a member of the Saudi Shoura Council. “It feels very liberating,” she said about driving her mother’s Lexus.
Almaeena, also the co-founder and director of Jeddah United Sports Co, had exchanged her UAE license for a Saudi one. 

“I am thrilled!” Sarah Alwassia, 35, a nutritionist in Jeddah, told Arab News. “I learnt how to drive 18 years ago in the States where I got my driving license. I can’t believe that the day to drive in my own home town has come.”

Alwassia obtained her first American license when she was 18 years old in 2000, and had it exchanged for a Saudi license on June 6 in Jeddah. She explained that she is a mother, and this change provided comfort for her and her family. It also comes with various benefits, such as taking quick action in emergencies, and economic benefits such as saving money instead of paying for a driver when she needs to run errands. 

“I will be driving my kids to school and picking them up in comfort and privacy,” she said.

Women in the Kingdom commented on how this event is changing the course of their lives. “Independence is a huge thing for me,” Alwassia said. “Driving is one small part of it. I am very optimistic of the change that our loving country has made.”  

Alwassia applauds the efforts the country has made to support women. “I am confident that driving in the beginning will be pleasant, since our country has made all of the effort to support women and to protect them.
“I think our society was looking forward for this change, and I am sure the majority will adapt fast.

“I feel safe, our country did everything to make this transition pleasant and safe for every woman behind the wheel. I am really thankful to witness this historic moment and I am so happy for all the women in Saudi Arabia, especially my daughters.”
Sahar Nasief, 64, a retired lecturer from the European languages and Literature Department at King Abdulaziz University, said: “Nothing could describe my feelings. I can't wait to get on the road.”
Nasief received a very special gift from Ford for this occasion.

“They gave me a 2018 Expedition to drive for three days, a Mustang California Special,” she told Arab News.

Nasief obtained her Saudi license on June 7. She also holds a British license and two American licenses. “Now, I have my national license too,” she said. 

She also said the lifting of the ban provided a sense of relief. “I feel that I can practice one of my rights, and I don't have to live at the mercy of my driver any more.”
Society has been demanding such a change for years, “as it will take the physical and economic burden off most men.”
Pointing to the anti-harassment law, Nasief said: “I feel very confident especially after announcing the strict harassment law.”
Joumana Mattar, 36, a Jordanian interior designer, exchanged her Jordanian driver’s license and obtained a Saudi one on June 11. 

“I had my Jordanian license since I was 18 years old, and the moment I heard about the opening of exchanging foreign licenses, I immediately booked an appointment,” she said.
Mattar said she looks forward to the change in so many ways. “I'm finally in control of my time, schedule and privacy.” 

Mattar said she is both confident and anxious about the event. “I'm anxious only for feeling that I'm part of a huge first step for women driving in the Kingdom, but I'm confident also because of the support that I'm getting from my husband and family.
“Every first step is the hardest. Society is facing a huge change, but I'm positive because this change is done and supported by the government and Vision 2030.”

Mattar said she feels secure now. “I'm in control of any case I'm facing.”

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