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.


Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’ 

Updated 44 min 49 sec ago

Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’ 

  • The Arabic word “jamarat" was inaccurately translated to “anthrax",  a dangerous infectious disease
  • Citing possible repercussions of the mistranslation, scholars want a probe to pinpoint responsibility

RIYADH: The Hajj and Umrah Ministry is investigating the inaccurate translation of the word “jamarat” into “anthrax,” which led to Sheikh Yusuf Estes making a video warning pilgrims of the mistake and its possible repercussions.

The translation concerned a bag that was a gift to pilgrims, containing small pebbles to use for the “stoning of the devil” upon their return from Muzdalifah. The bag had the correct original Arabic description, which roughly translates as “jamarat pebble bag,” whereas the English version of “jamarat” was translated into “anthrax,” a dangerous infectious disease.

According to SPA, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah was notified and opened an investigation with the contractor and translator on August 10, before handing them to authorities to take the necessary disciplinary action.

“Anthrax, where did they get that? They get it from Google, it’s not Google’s fault. Google allows people to tell the meaning of the different languages of words,” Sheikh Yusuf said in the video.

Google Translate, the free multilingual machine translator, relies on comparing large quantities of content between pairs of languages to establish patterns and, in most cases, determine the probability that certain words in one language will correspond with a set of words in another. 

Putting Google Translate to the test, Arab News used the platform to translate a name of a type of fish known in the region as “sha’oor” from Arabic to English. The scientific term for the fish is Lethrinus nebulosus, a type of emperor fish most commonly known as the green snapper or sand snapper.  

Google Translate’s translation was “thickness of feeling.”

Though it yields imperfect results, the service can be used at a pinch, though real human translators rather than artificial intelligence are far more likely to lead to more accurate translations.  

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Gisele Riachy, director of the Center for Languages and Translation at the Lebanese University in Beirut, explained how the mistranslation of “jamarat” could have happened.

“We have two possibilities, it was either translated by Google Translate or the translator was provided with a single sentence and therefore didn’t understand the meaning of “jamarat,” she said.

“The translator may have not taken into consideration the general context of the word, which has certain religious connotations, therefore it should have been borrowed, translated by the “Stoning of the Devil” or even left as it is.”

Dr. Riachy said that the word anthrax cannot be translated without an accompanying adjective for a better explanation of the term.

“What surprised me is that when translating the word “jamarat” from Arabic to English, the word should have been accompanied with the adjective “khabitha,” or malignant in Arabic, for it to be translated to “anthrax” in English. That is why I am confused and I do not think Google Translate would have translated it into “anthrax” if the Arabic version didn’t include the word “khabitha.”

Sheikh Yusuf Estes’ video was intended for those who would like to take the small bags home as a souvenir or gift, sending a message that the mistranslation could cause the traveler trouble with customs in their own countries.