Jubail airport handles first civilian flight

Updated 20 September 2014

Jubail airport handles first civilian flight

The first civilian aircraft landed at Jubail airport on Thursday morning, marking its transformation from a purely military facility.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) had overseen the revamp of the airport at Jubail Industrial City.
It was originally constructed by the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu for private aviation, until it was decided to use the large nearby King Fahd International Airport for this purpose. The Ministry of Defense then took over the facility for use by the country's navy.
However, the royal commission announced earlier this year that the facility would also handle private aircraft starting this September. It launched a project to renovate the airfield and handle some infrastructure that had remained incomplete when it first changed into a military facility.
The airport is now open for private aviation serving companies in Jubail and Ras Al-Khair industrial cities and neighboring towns. GACA and the navy are working on a plan to use the area in front of the naval forces’ airport in Jubail Industrial City to establish a domestic airport.
Mosleh Al-Otaibi, chief executive officer of the royal commission, announced the opening of the airport recently. “After obtaining a license, completing the landing areas and watch towers, the airport has started operating. It will be for civilian and military use.”
According to data made available to Arab News, the airport will serve more than 500,000 passengers including visitors and investors from inside and outside the Kingdom. This includes expatriates from more than 70 countries working in the area.
The airport is close to Al-Na’areya, Al-Khafji, Al-Elyia village, Khurisaniyah and other areas where Saudi Aramco operates.
Employees and businesspeople are optimistic that the airport would provide further support for the growing aviation industry, and support tourism and other important sectors of the economy.
Jubail is one of the leading industrial cities in the world featuring a range of petrochemical enterprises.

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”