Saudi civil aviation authority denies allowing Air India to fly over Saudi Arabia on planned Israel route

Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority denied granting permission to Indian planes to use the kingdom’s airspace to cross into Israel. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Saudi civil aviation authority denies allowing Air India to fly over Saudi Arabia on planned Israel route

JERUSALEM/NEW DELHI: Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority on Wednesday denied granting permission to Indian planes to use the kingdom’s airspace to cross into Israel.
A spokesman for the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) in Saudi Arabia that the Authority did not grant any permission to fly India, Al Arabiya television reported.
Air India said on Wednesday it plans to begin direct flights to Israel and has proposed they pass through Saudi airspace, a route so far off-limits to Israel-bound commercial planes.
Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel and lifting the 70-year-old airspace ban would reflect what appears to be thawing ties between Israel and the kingdom, both US allies with a shared concern over Iranian influence in the region.
An Air India spokesman and Israel’s Airports Authority said the state-run carrier had requested slots for three weekly flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv. The Airports Authority said the service would begin in early March.
Air India was awaiting clearance from the Indian aviation regulator to fly over Saudi Arabia, the spokesman said.
However, Israeli media, in unsourced reports, said Riyadh had granted the necessary flyover rights, which would shorten the flight time from New Delhi by more than two hours.
India and Israel have built close ties over the years, largely centered on arms purchases, away from the public eye.
But under Narendra Modi, whose nationalist party has long admired Israel for its tough approach to terrorism, ties have flowered across the economy and last year he made a first-ever visit to Israel by an Indian prime minister.
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited India last month, the first such trip in 15 years.
El Al Israel Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, flies four weekly flights to Mumbai but these take seven hours rather than five as they take a route south toward Ethiopia and then east to India, avoiding Saudi airspace.
Israel’s Tourism Ministry said it will grant Air India 750,000 euros for flying the new route, as part of its policy of increasing the number of airlines flying to Israel.
Air India had made a similar request for slots to Israeli authorities last year but never followed through, after that circumventing Saudi airspace was not economically viable.
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is in Riyadh for an official visit.


‘Our History is Misk’ revive 20 traditional professional figures in Jeddah

Cafes were an important part of Jeddah’s social life. (AN photo)
Updated 24 September 2018
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‘Our History is Misk’ revive 20 traditional professional figures in Jeddah

  • Cafes were an important part of Jeddah’s social life

JEDDAH: “Our History is Misk,” supported by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation, is being organized at the historical site of Jeddah.
The event is bringing nostalgia through a number of scenes that embody the life the city witnessed decades ago.
It comes as one of the activities of the foundation’s initiatives center and is part of its role in encouraging creativity and promoting national values in society.
The activities include an open theater to portray the professions of Jeddah citizens in the past. A number of local actors brought 20 extinct professions back to life through their performances.
One of the actors sits in the center, playing the role of the mayor, who used to help the people and solved their differences. Also showcased were the “decorator,” who is similar to barbers nowadays, the distribution of fabrics used in houses at the time, the selling of water in alleys for nominal amounts of money, and the restoration and cleaning of shoes.
Cafes were an important part of Jeddah’s social life. In them, people with all kinds of professions met to drink tea and listen to a storyteller.