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.


Qiddiya Investment Company officially established as standalone company

Updated 21 May 2018
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Qiddiya Investment Company officially established as standalone company

  • The Public Investment Fund has announced Qiddiya as one of three giga-projects and part of Saudi’s Vision 2030
  • Covering 334 square kilometers – 2.5 times the size of Walt Disney World – Qiddiya will shape Saudi Arabia’s multi-sector economy

RIYADH: Qiddiya, the entertainment, sport and cultural destination being built 40 kilometers outside Riyadh, has officially been incorporated as a standalone company as the Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC).
The move cements another key component in its progress toward phase one of completion, scheduled for 2022.
On the heels of the official Qiddiya ground-breaking ceremony last month, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment has officially incorporated and registered the project as a closed joint-stock company, wholly owned by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and subject to Saudi Arabian law.
The project was announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 7, 2017.
The Public Investment Fund has announced Qiddiya as one of three giga-projects and part of Saudi’s Vision 2030 to create “a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.”
Covering 334 square kilometers – 2.5 times the size of Walt Disney World – Qiddiya will shape Saudi Arabia’s multi-sector economy, help secure sustainable growth and improve the quality of services to citizens.
By providing a world-class entertainment option inside the Kingdom, QIC will allow the domestic economy to recapture a market share of the $30 billion spent annually by Saudis on foreign tourism. These funds will remain in the Kingdom to be reinvested for the benefit of citizens.
“Incorporation is a key milestone as we move from planning to performance. As a fully independent entity, we will draft our own budget and re-commit ourselves to our responsibilities, as we move forward with this project that has the potential to enrich the lives of all Saudis,” said Michael Reininger, CEO for Qiddiya.
“This step brings us closer to the day when we can satisfy the demand of a powerful and untapped Saudi market for new and accessible activities. It is for these future visitors – the nearly two thirds of the Kingdom’s population under 35, the more than 7 million people who reside within 40 kilometers of our location on the doorstep of Riyadh – that we at Qiddiya Investment Company aspire to build a better future filled with culture, sports, entertainment, and opportunity,” he said.
The ground-breaking ceremony was on 28th April, 2018, an event attended by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.