Saudi students race drones in run-up to DRL World Championship final

A group of 16 Saudi students competed in their own race after attending a two-day training workshop on building, programming and flying drones. (SFCSPD)
Updated 14 September 2018

Saudi students race drones in run-up to DRL World Championship final

  • The final event of this year’s DRL championship will held on September 14
  • The federation is working to introduce regulations that will help to overcome obstacles to Saudis interested in taking up drone racing

JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia prepares to host the grand finale of the 2018 Drone Racing League Allianz World Championship, some lucky young locals got a taste of the sport’s speed and thrills, while also learning about the technology behind it.
The seventh and final event of this year’s DRL championship will be hosted by the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones (SFCSPD) at King Abdullah Economic City in Jeddah on September 14, where 10 of the world’s best drone racers will compete to be crowned world champion
Before the big race, a group of 16 Saudi students competed in their own race after attending a two-day training workshop on building, programming and flying drones, which was supervised by the DRL World Team. The participants used simulation software to learn how to control the aircraft and then got to fly the latest, state-of-the-art Racer 3 drones.
One of the participants, Mutaz Abdullah Al-Jaafari said he was pleased to have the chance to take part because it was a national event that encouraged, supported and motivated young people to get involved in the sport.
DRL fans around the world are looking forward to the final of the 2018 World Championship, which this year comes to Saudi Arabia for the first time. It is hosted by the SFCSPD, with the support of Saud Al-Qahtani, the chairman of the federation and an adviser to the Royal Court.
Nouf Al-Rakan, the federation’s executive director, said the event is in line with realizing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and reflects the country’s regional and international leadership in the areas of technology and sports. She added that the federation is working to introduce legislation and regulations that will help to overcome obstacles to Saudis who are interested in taking up drone racing. She said it is also pleased to play a role in introducing this modern sport to Saudi society and attracting international events, and hopes to host more international competitions and support citizens keen to participate in the sport.
Al-Rakan also expressed her pride in the young people who took part in the workshops, praising their enthusiasm and skill in helping to build a model drone that will be used in the final race.
The race in Jeddah on September 14 is the seventh and the final event in the 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship, after qualifying rounds in the United States, France and Germany. Free tickets to attend the event are available online from the SFCSPD.

 


Saudi diving enthusiasts go overboard again … with a raft of essential safety precautions

The Red Sea — one of the most beautiful seas for diving — will greatly encourage local tourism, says diving instructor Lujain Shugdar. She wants to have divers from abroad visit SaudiArabia. (Supplied)
Updated 50 min 5 sec ago

Saudi diving enthusiasts go overboard again … with a raft of essential safety precautions

  • Before starting the trip, divers will be briefed on the hygienic and safety measures and social distancing rules, with a full explanation on how to use sanitizers and face masks

JEDDAH: It’s almost business as usual again for many across Saudi Arabia after the lifting of lockdown — and divers are more excited than ever to be back at sea. Divers in the Kingdom are following the safety precautions issued by the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health and the General Directorate of Border Guard.
Lujain Shugdar, diving instructor at Jeddah’s Natlus Divers and two international organizations — the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and SNSI — and who has taught more than 150 students, said that the group had been on six diving trips since the lifting of lockdown.
Although international flights are yet to resume to the Kingdom, with the abundance of beautiful coral reefs along the Red Sea, Shugdar said that she wanted diving to be one of the main tourist activities in Saudi Arabia.
“The Red Sea is one of the most beautiful seas in the world for diving; it will greatly encourage tourism in the Kingdom. I want to encourage tourism in the Kingdom — whether for locals to enjoy or have divers from abroad visit us (later on),” she said.


With more than 30 years of service, Natlus offers many different activities such as free-diving, technical diving and recreational diving.
Shugdar said that Natlus were following the directives of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health to comply with full safety standards.
She explained that as directed by the authorities, the number of divers and people on a diving boat was half its normal capacity.
“We sanitize the boat and equipment before people board it. We also make sure all safety devices are working, and we add additional oxygen cylinders on board in case there is a need to use it. It’s usually one cylinder, but now we will add one regular cylinder and another big cylinder on the boat.”
“Before starting the trip, divers will be briefed on the hygienic and safety measures and social distancing rules, with a full explanation on how to use sanitizers and face masks. There will also be gloves and they will be changeable; a closed waste bin will also be available on board,” she said.
One can sense her feeling of relief and excitement after months away from the sea. When the authorities announced the return of diving and watersports activities, Shugdar immediately booked a diving trip.
“The sea is where you relieve stress from your personal and work life. It has a huge impact on one’s happiness and well-being. I’m so excited about this decision, and of course will follow all safety precautions to ensure our health and the health of the divers with us on board,” she said.
Saudi diver, Mishael Abdulaziz, 29, said that diving was one of the least likely sport activities to transmit COVID-19 as equipment was not usually shared.
“We don’t usually share equipment. Equipment is only shared during the very rare event of an out-of-air emergency,” she told Arab News.
“An out-of-air emergency is when one of the divers runs out of air unexpectedly due to poor planning or inattentiveness to the pressure gauge or air supply. In this instance, a buddy will share his or her air with the out-of-air diver.”
Even though dive centers thoroughly clean their equipment, many divers are encouraged to buy their own regulators as opposed to renting them to further avoid transmission.


Saudi-based Captain Issam Kalasina, King Abdullah Economic City’s (KAEC) Bay La Sun Marina Watersports and Yacht Club operations manager, said that they were very happy with the return of the activity, but there was a need to exercise caution.
Kalasina, who has been in the diving business for 42 years, told Arab News: “We are very happy to come back and resume the activity — with a certain limit.
“Only half the capacity is allowed on board at the moment to avoid social distancing issues and to ensure all safety precautions are being met on board. The number of passengers has been limited to half,  captain and crew included,” he said.
Kalasina said that following the safety precautions required by the pandemic, captains were assigned to have on board gloves, masks, gel sanitizers and liquid sanitizers.
“The gel sanitizer is for the hands, and the liquid sanitizer is for objects on the boat,” he said.
“The boat is completely sanitized and rinsed before we accept passengers on board; it is then sanitized and rinsed again after the trip is over.”