King Salman, Arab leaders attend Gulf Shield parade

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, heads of state and senior representatives of 25 countries attend the closing ceremony of the Gulf Shield 1 military parade. (SPA)
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Joint Gulf Shield-1 military maneuvers. (SPA)
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Joint Gulf Shield-1 military maneuvers. (SPA)
Updated 16 April 2018
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King Salman, Arab leaders attend Gulf Shield parade

  • The king oversaw military parades led by Saudi Arabian land, air and naval forces and those of the participating 24 allied states. 
  • Aircraft of the participating air forces carried out various maneuvers that reflected the skill and efficiency of the pilots. 

Jeddah: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, and heads of state and senior representatives from 25 countries, on Monday, attended the closing ceremony of the Joint Gulf Shield-1 military drills.
King Salman presided over the closing ceremony of the drills, which he said highlighted a “unified alliance” between over 24 countries to combat military threats.
“The event is... meant to demonstrate our ability to take joint military action, the region’s readiness to support Arab unity and its capacity to deter any threats,” military spokesman Abdullah Subaei was quoted as saying in a Saudi information ministry statement.
“This exercise demonstrates that we have the cooperation of friendly nations, our experience and expertise to deal with those threats.
The parades included special forces units, with advanced military vehicles and missile systems and involved combat search-and-rescue drills as well as naval warfare and air operations. Aircraft of the participating air forces carried out various maneuvers that reflected the skills and efficiencies of the pilots. 
Several modern aircraft were showcased, including the MRTT, which can carry up to 111 tons of fuel, the highest capacity of all tanker aircraft. It also included auxiliary military aircraft, fighters and attack aircraft featuring auxiliary power systems, as well as the airborne early warning and control system (AWACS), which is an airborne radar picket system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long range.
Aircraft flew in shield formation, in acknowledgement of the overall exercise’s appellation.
The show also featured a K-3, a floating fuel station in the sky, allowing aircraft to stay longer in the air in order to achieve their targets and the C-130 transport plane, which is used for quick and flexible cargo transport, troop transfers and aid drops.
A variety of helicopters were also on display, including three high-powered rapid response Apache helicopters, with the capacity to strike from a multiplicity of distances and primarily used to destroy tanks and armored vehicles.
Cougar aircraft, which are utilized for search and rescue operations and the Super-Puma aircraft, used to carry out combat operations against naval targets and to pass information to fleet control centers, also featured. Assembled dignitaries also reviewed a formation of Black Hawk aircraft, which are used to transport personnel.
Finally, Typhoon and F-15S aircraft engaged in mock combat maneuvers.
The Joint Gulf Shield-1 military maneuvers reflect the importance of military cooperation and coordination, with friendly countries, in raising the level of combat readiness and ensuring regional security.


Fast track to Hajj on Jakarta’s ‘Makkah Road’

Updated 18 July 2018
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Fast track to Hajj on Jakarta’s ‘Makkah Road’

  • A fast-track clearance for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims has been opened at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport
  • The initiative comes as the first groups of pilgrims left from six Indonesian cities, including the capital

JAKARTA: A fast-track clearance for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims — known as the “Makkah Road” — has been opened at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport.
The initiative comes as the first groups of pilgrims left from six Indonesian cities, including the capital.
Indonesian and Saudi officials, including Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Indonesia, were present at the official launch of the fast-track facility on Tuesday.
Airport operator Angkasa Pura has installed 20 booths to process Hajj pilgrims, with each counter manned by two Saudi immigration officers.
“This is the first time the immigration process has taken place in Jakarta, so they will not have to go through custom clearance on arrival in Saudi Arabia and can go directly to their buses, which will take them to their accommodation, while their luggage will be handled and delivered directly to their respective hotels,” Al-Shuaibi said.
“This is a step to improve our Hajj services. We have introduced it this year at Jakarta, where about 60,000 pilgrims are expected to depart. We will introduce it in four cities next time and eventually we hope to introduce it all Hajj embarkations in Indonesia,” he said.
The envoy said that about 400 pilgrims underwent the fast-track clearance in an hour at the airport on Tuesday.
“We appreciate King Salman’s initiative that makes the pilgrims’ journey much easier. It shows that we have a deep and close relation,” Indonesia’s Minister of Social Affairs, Idrus Marham, said.
Director-General of Hajj and Umrah at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Nizar Ali, said that 4,486 pilgrims had left from Surakarta, Surabaya, Jakarta, Padang, Makassar and Lombok. More than 221,000 pilgrims are expected to leave Indonesia this year, with the last departure on Aug. 14.
Garuda, the Indonesian airline, expects to fly as many as 108,000 pilgrims in 280 groups from around the country.
Among the 393 pilgrims who left Jakarta was 91-year-old Mohammad Hasan Saad, from East Jakarta, the oldest person in the group.
Hanif Fakri, a member of the medical staff assisting the group, said that Saad was making his second pilgrimage after his first Hajj in 2012.
Hanafi bin Dogol, a 50-year-old pilgrim from East Jakarta, told Arab News that he been on a seven-year waiting list waiting for his chance to go on Hajj.
“I have been practicing and learning the rituals. I hope I can accomplish the pilgrimage in the most favorable manner,” he said.