2019 Global Aviation Summit opens in Riyadh

Saudi Minister of Transport Dr. Nabeel Al-Amudi signs an air service agreement between GACA and the Ministry of Transportation and Communication of Cyprus. (AN photo by Abdulaziz Alaquil)
Updated 02 April 2019

2019 Global Aviation Summit opens in Riyadh

  • Civil aviation sector in the Kingdom generates an estimated $126 billion in revenues annually
  • Investment deals proposed at the GAS could see thousands of jobs created, and would raise the Kingdom’s global ranking in the Logistics Performance Index from 49 to 25

RIYADH: The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) hosted the opening of the 2019 Global Aviation Summit (GAS), a two-day international forum, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh on Monday.
In his opening address, Saudi Minister of Transport Dr. Nabeel Al-Amoudi discussed the value of the industry to the Kingdom, stating that civil aviation generated an estimated $126 billion annually, as well as providing 527,000 jobs.
He also discussed the recent accidents involving two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, saying there were no immediate plans to allow the model to operate in Saudi airspace. “There were no 737 MAX aircraft flying in the Kingdom at the time,” he said, “and there aren’t plans for them to fly again in the near future.” Boeing’s top-selling MAX jet was grounded globally last month after two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Boeing’s senior managing director for commercial marketing, Darren Hulst, gave a keynote address where he discussed the Kingdom’s peculiarly opportune position in the global aviation industry.
“Saudi Arabia is unique, both as a strategic location and a destination, through pilgrimage and the Hajj and Umrah sector, and growing tourism opportunities,” he said.
“There is also the whole economic industry that comes along with aviation. Boeing has been a part of building that industry here in the last few decades, with various partnerships and joint ventures, and we are continuing to accelerate those investments.”
The history of civil aviation in Saudi Arabia effectively began in 1945, when a twin-engine Dakota DC-3 was gifted to King Abdul Aziz by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was the first aircraft to land in the Kingdom, and it marked the beginning of Boeing’s relationship with the country.
“When we think about where we are today and where we can be as an industry in the next decade, the opportunities are limitless,” Hulst continued. “When you take into consideration the number of airplanes to support, the number of people to train, and the value of goods and services produced, we think this country has a unique advantage. In general, aviation growth has always doubled in relation to economic growth. Here in Saudi Arabia, though, because of all of its advantages, we see a fourfold multiplier effect. Boeing looks forward to being a part of it.”
The GACA’s media spokesman, Ibrahim Al-Rosa, said: “We are hosting over 150 high-profile individuals, including the heads of the world’s largest aviation companies. The GACA has long believed in the importance of this industry, its development and progress, which includes investment opportunities and the ushering in of a promising young generation of men and women.”
Female GACA employees also spoke at length about their roles and experience in the aviation industry. At the “Women in Aviation” panel discussion, Haifa Hamedaldean, transformation project manager for the Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS), discussed the roles women now hold in aviation.
“I’m delighted to represent SANS as a vehicle for female empowerment in the aviation industry,” Hamedaldean said. “SANS not only attracts women in administrative roles, but also in operational ones. In little over a year, SANS has grown the number of women employed from zero to 38. You’ll find them in strategy, management, engineering and information technology. You’ll see them in human resources, in training and recruitment. Eleven of our women serve as air-traffic controllers and we are expecting 15 more to join us by the end of this year.”
As Saudi Arabia continues to diversify its economy, the civil aviation industry represents a key pillar in that change, given the country’s location as a global logistical hub. Investment deals proposed at the GAS could see thousands of jobs created, and would raise the Kingdom’s global ranking in the Logistics Performance Index from 49 to 25. Direct foreign investment, currently at 3.8 percent, would rise to 5.7 percent of the gross domestic product. At the GAS, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Kingdom and Argentina on air transport cooperation, while agreements were also signed with Georgia and Chad, in addition to an air service agreement between the GACA and the Cypriot government.

Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019

Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.