Solar Impulse 2 gets GACA nod to fly through Saudi skies

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Solar Impulse 2 lands in Cairo on Wednesday after a two-day flight from Seville, Spain. The experimental solar-powered airplane is expected to pass through Saudi Arabian skies on the last leg of its round-the-world odyssey starting Friday. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elraai)
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Solar Impulse 2, an experimental solar-powered airplane, is seen after landing in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday. It is expected to pass through Saudi Arabian skies on the last leg of its round-the-world odyssey starting Friday. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elraai)
Updated 14 July 2016
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Solar Impulse 2 gets GACA nod to fly through Saudi skies

JEDDAH: The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) on Thursday issued a special permit for Solar Impulse 2 to use the kingdom's skies in the last leg of the first fuel-free flight around the globe.
The solar-powered aircraft will fly from Cairo, Egypt on Friday to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where it started its odyssey in March 2015. The flight is expected to last for two days.
Solar Impulse 2 landed at Cairo airport on July 13, ending a flight leg that lasted 48 hours and 50 minutes from Seville, Spain.
The plane has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies.
“Thanks to clean technologies, today you can reconcile economy and ecology ... this was my goal when I started the project,” Piccard told Reuters.
Solar Impulse flies without a drop of fuel, its four engines powered solely by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells in its wings. Surplus power is stored in batteries during the day to keep the plane aloft on long-distance flights.
The carbon fiber plane, with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a family car, is unlikely to set speed records. It can climb to about 8,500 meters (28,000 feet) and cruise at 55-100 kph (34-62 mph).
The Solar Impulse team will now prepare for the final leg of the journey to United Arab Emirates, they said.
“Explorers have gone everywhere, even to the Moon. Now, we need to explore a better quality of life here on Earth,” Piccard said.
The aircraft landed in Spain last month, after completing the first solo transatlantic flight powered only by sunlight.
After setting off from Seville on Monday morning, the plane passed through Algerian, Tunisian, Italian and Greek airspace, and flew over the Giza Pyramids before touching down at Cairo airport at around 7:10 a.m. (0510 GMT).

(Additional input from agencies)


Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

Updated 20 min 30 sec ago
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Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

  • Finance representatives of 150 government bodies meet for the Budget Forum 2020

RIYADH: Saudi finance chiefs have kicked off a major conference in the capital aimed at mapping out the Kingdom’s budget requirements.
Around 300 specialists representing 150 government bodies met at the InterContinental hotel in Riyadh for the Budget Forum 2020.
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan welcomed delegates to the second edition of the gathering organized by the Saudi Finance Ministry under the slogan “Partnership and Empowerment.”
Al-Jadaan said the ministry was focused on “partnership and commitment,” and sought to share the challenge of developing an effective budget to achieve the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.
“We are also committed to empowering financial leaderships to learn about the ministry’s programs and projects and provide training and qualification opportunities to the best international standards,” he added.
The finance chief said the budget planning process required the collaboration of multiple authorities and a clear strategy based on transparency. 
Items up for discussion at the forum included financial planning in governmental bodies, automation, and the promotion of revenues and efficient spending.
Finance Ministry steering committee chairman, Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Freih, stressed the importance of the forum in getting the ball rolling at an early stage on formulating a general state budget.
Workshops were held on the sidelines of the conference focused on empowering government organizations, and a training program on financial planning and income estimations was also staged.