Saudi envoys join hunt for missing pilot

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Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif
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Saudi Ambassador to Manila Dr. Abdullah Al-Bussairy meets Capt. Jim Sydiongco, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, to discuss search and rescue operations looking for Saudi flying student Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 June 2019
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Saudi envoys join hunt for missing pilot

  • Apolonio offered an assurance that CAAP Security and Intelligence Service personnel and representatives from the Saudi embassy are working closely with Orient Aviation

MANILA: Saudi diplomats in Manila have joined Philippine authorities in planning the next phase of a search for a Saudi aviation student who went missing while on a training flight in Occidental Mindoro, about 403 km east of the country’s capital.
The Beechcraft Baron 55 (BB-55) trainer aircraft carrying Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif, a student at the Orient Flying School, and his Filipino teacher, Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon, vanished from radar while on training flight two weeks ago.
The twin-engine BB-55 disappeared shortly after takeoff from San Jose airport at 8.13 a.m. on May 17.
Eric Apolonio, a Philippines Civil Aviation Authority spokesman, said a sonar search had covered 2,000 ha of ocean to a depth of 800 meters, but had found no sign of the missing aircraft.
“At this point, search operations are ongoing, but tomorrow we will re-assess to decide the next step,” Apolonio told Arab News.
The Saudi embassy in Manila said in a statement late on Sunday that it had sent a high-level delegation to the area to help plan the next phase of the search.
The search could be moved to areas of the island that are home to insurgents, including the New People’s Army, an armed group with links to the Philippines Communist Party.
Relatives of the missing pilot had left the area and returned to Manila because of the security situation, the embassy said.
Apolonio said the flying school operator, the Orient Aviation Corp., will decide when to end the search.
“Our (CAAP) mandate is to undertake the investigation,” he said.

BACKGROUND

The Beechcraft Baron 55 (BB-55) trainer aircraft carrying Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif, a student at the Orient Flying School, and his Filipino teacher, Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon, vanished from radar while on training flight two weeks ago. The twin-engine BB-55 disappeared shortly after takeoff from San Jose airport at 8.13 a.m. on May 17.

Computer-generated sonar information gathered in the search has been brought to Cebu for analysis by the sonar operator, he said.
“All the images that registered during the search on their computer have been submitted for analysis. So, depending on the results, we will know the next steps by tomorrow,” said Apolonio.
“We’re still hoping that the two men will be found safe,” he said.
Apolonio offered an assurance that CAAP Security and Intelligence Service personnel and representatives from the Saudi embassy are working closely with Orient Aviation.
Saudi diplomats “have been assured that all concerned authorities are working around the clock,” he said.


Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

Updated 26 June 2019
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Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

  • 40 works by Edvard Munch go on display for first time in Middle East

DHAHRAN: A dynamic Saudi cultural center is to showcase the works of one of the world’s most famous painters in an exhibition-first for the Middle East.

Forty pieces by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, best known for his iconic “The Scream” painting, will go on public display at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

The special exhibition, titled “Landscapes of the Soul,” is the latest in a series of high-profile cultural events to be staged at the showpiece exhibition in Dhahran.

Developed by Saudi Aramco with the aim of stimulating knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement, Ithra’s theater, museum, exhibition hall and art gallery complex forms a key part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan to promote culture and entertainment.

The Munch exhibition, which runs until Sept. 3, portrays the artist’s personal life experiences of misery, love, despair, loneliness and reflections of the soul, through his distinctive works.

“It is such an honor to host and introduce to Saudi Arabia, and indeed, the Middle East, the work of the world-renowned artist Edvard Munch,” Rania Biltagi, Ithra’s head of communications and partnership, told Arab News.

Munch’s (1863-1944) original exhibition has been located in Oslo, Norway since 1963, and the Saudi display is being staged in Ithra’s Great Hall in partnership with the Munch Museum in Norway.

As well as a lithograph version of his most famous painting “The Scream,” other works on show will include “Summer Night. The Voice,” 1894, “Self-Portrait,” 1895, and “The Sick Child,” 1896.

“A moment that stood out from the opening was when speaking to a couple visiting the exhibit, they mentioned that they were Norwegian and working in Saudi,” Biltagi said. “They explained that they had never had the chance to visit the Munch Museum in their homeland and what an unexpected pleasure it was to be able to see Munch’s work in Saudi.”

Biltagi added that the event epitomized the aim of Ithra in providing a platform to bring together cultures as well as people.

The center, featured in Time magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 places to visit, is a pioneer on the Kingdom’s culture and arts scene, organizing a variety of events, performances, programs and experiences to suit all ages and backgrounds. Previous exhibitions have included a focus on Saudi contemporary art, Leonardo da Vinci, and installations symbolizing creativity and innovation.