Dammam transport plan to improve connectivity

The Public Transport Authority (PTA) aims to attract investment in a manner that contributes to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan. (SPA)
Updated 01 November 2018
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Dammam transport plan to improve connectivity

  • The electronic licensing platform will be launched on Sunday to facilitate licensing procedures
  • The Bayan e-platform for associating drivers’ data with vehicles will be launched in early 2019

JEDDAH: The first phase of the public transport plan for Dammam will be launched this month to establish the main structure for connecting it to other major cities, including Alkhobar, Dhahran, Qatif and Ras Tanura, the chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) said on Wednesday.

The electronic licensing platform will be launched on Sunday to facilitate licensing procedures, added Rumaih bin Mohammed Al-Rumaih.

The Bayan e-platform for associating drivers’ data with vehicles will be launched in early 2019, he said during a meeting with the business sector in the Eastern Province.

The meeting, in the Asharqia Chamber, was attended by its chairman, Abdul Hakim bin Hamad Al-Khaldi, Vice Chairman Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Buali and board members. 

Other participants included the chairman of the industry and energy committee, Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, the chairman of the logistics committee, Bander Al-Jabri, the chamber’s secretary-general, Abdul Rahman Al-Wabel, and businesspeople interested in the public transport sector.

Al-Rumaih said the PTA has always been keen to support investors, and its main goal is to attract investment in the sector in a manner that contributes to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan and turning Saudi Arabia into a global logistics center.

“The PTA’s responsibility is to reorganize and regulate the transport sector in accordance with international standards,” he added. 

This “can only be achieved by providing safe, efficient, integrated and green public transport in all of the Kingdom’s provinces to create a high-quality, efficient and cost-effective transport environment that is built using advanced technology and promotes investment in the sector,” he said.

Al-Rumaih highlighted the completion of 95 percent of a project to develop transport systems in the city of Tabuk, and 75 percent of a study to develop them in the city of Al-Baha.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Al-Khaldi said: “Public transport is one of the most important sectors for achieving comprehensive development, and improving it is an indicator of a country’s urban development.”

The PTA’s leading role in reorganizing and regulating the public transport sector will contribute to establishing an investment environment that appeals to the business sector, he added.

Al-Jabri said: “The transport sector is key to achieving Vision 2030, as it provides logistics services to different production and services sectors, in addition to offering job opportunities for local talents and investment opportunities for local investors.”

The PTA’s activities will achieve a “quantum leap in the Saudi public transport system and establish a national industry based on partnership with the private sector,” he added. 

“This will contribute to the Kingdom’s economic growth, and provide a high-quality and professional transport system.”

At the end of the meeting, Al-Khaldi gave Al-Rumaih a commemorative shield.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.