Saudi Arabian Airlines told to pull up its socks

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Updated 25 December 2012

Saudi Arabian Airlines told to pull up its socks

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian Airlines and its sister companies have been told to implement their strategic plans to develop their programs, improve services, boost operational performance and provide more seats to meet customer requirements.
Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, gave the call yesterday while chairing a meeting of Saudia’s board of directors in Riyadh.
“We want to reach higher levels of operation rates competing with other airline companies at regional and international levels,” the prince told the board members.
He said the move was essential to meet the growing passenger traffic at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah, King Khaled Airport in Riyadh and Prince Muhammad Airport in Madinah.
Referring to the recent Cabinet decisions aimed at strengthening GACA, Prince Fahd said it would help the authority and Saudia to complete their strategic plans to cope with speedy developments in the industry.
Director General Khaled Al-Molhem told the meeting that the national carrier transported more than 22.11 million passengers from January through November 2012 on 157,702 domestic and international flights.
“By the end of this year, the total number of passengers carried will reach 23.7 million, 2.2 million more than 2011,” he pointed out. The airline’s on time performance reached 89.35 percent.
Al-Molhem highlighted Saudia’s record performance during the last summer season (from June to September) when it carried 7.84 million passengers, with an increase of 770,000 compared to the 2011 figure.
Referring to Saudia’s Haj and Umrah operations, he said the airline carried more than 1.32 million Umrah pilgrims and 724,414 Haj pilgrims in 2012. “We have offered more than 14.32 million seats (88 percent of them occupied) on domestic flights this year, 324,000 more than in 2011,” he pointed out.
Saudia offered 12.32 million seats on international flights with an occupation rate of 69 percent. He said 59 out of 90 new aircraft bought by the airline have joined its domestic and international fleet network.

Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018

Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!


What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.