Saudi civil aviation authority starts issuing drone permits

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Recreational operator permits are for personal recreational use and no examination is required. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Drone flying permit.
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Recreational operator permits are for personal recreational use and no examination is required. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Recreational operator permits are for personal recreational use and no examination is required. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Recreational operator permits are for personal recreational use and no examination is required. AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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In this file photo taken on May 16, 2018 a drone equiped with a photo camera is pictured during a training session of the 17th Parachute Engineer Regiment of Montauban in a forest of the Tarn et Garonne, near Montauban. (AFP)
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An unmanned Air Taxi EHANG 216 takes off during a press preview of FACC AG on "Urban Air Mobility" at Generali Arena in Vienna, Austria on April 4, 2019. (AFP)
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In this Aug. 30, 2017 photo, Laura Shell, center, a Travelers catastrophe claims specialist from Lexington, Va., trains to become a certified drone operator at the insurance company's Windsor, Conn., training center. (AP)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Saudi civil aviation authority starts issuing drone permits

  • Recreational operator permits are for personal recreational use and no examination is required
  • First-time applicants for commercial drone permits are required to submit a copy of their passport and identification card, pay a SR500 examination and licensing fee and take a 60-question test

RIYADH: The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has begun handing out commercial and recreational drone operator permits in the Kingdom.
People who applied for a permit during the past four months started receiving their permits or scheduled examination dates this week.
An Arab News journalist applied for a recreational permit in January, supplied the identification document and paid the SR250 ($67) fee for a two-year permit. It arrived earlier this week.
A GACA licensing and examination agent explained that the delay was due to linking the GACA system with the Presidency of State Security in order to carry out background checks on applicants.
“It takes up to a couple of months to get the security clearance,” the agent told Arab News. “More than 90 percent of applicants pass the security check.” The recreational permit states that the operator must not fly the drone within eight kilometers of an aerodrome, helipad, or any piloted manned aircraft, industrial sites, military bases, royal palaces or private properties, except if approved by GACA.
Recreational operator permits are for personal recreational use and no examination is required. Such permits are for non-industrial and non-commercial drones.
First-time applicants for commercial drone permits are required to submit a copy of their passport and identification card, pay a SR500 examination and licensing fee and take a 60-question test.
The test requires familiarity with airport approach and air traffic control protocols, among other things.
GACA also mandates the registration of any drone to be flown in the Kingdom. The process requires a copy of personal identification and the make, model, serial number and weight of the drone.
People wishing to import drones into the country must have an operator’s permit and the drone’s serial number. They must register it through the GACA website and, through GACA, receive an import certificate.
However, according to the GACA licensing agent who spoke to Arab News, drones will be on sale in the Kingdom “very, very soon.”
“GACA is preparing itself for drones to become an industry here in the Kingdom. There are many uses for drones and we recognize that.”
Later this month Riyadh will host a drone summit and expo. It will be divided into four sessions. The first deals with changing regulations and legislation to foster innovation. The second will focus on how to incorporate drone technology into national security strategies. The third is dedicated to the industry’s general global outlook and, finally, the fourth session will highlight progress in the local industry.


Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. (SPA)
Updated 57 min 4 sec ago

Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

  • Debris major cause of death for marine life
  • Disintegration of plastic waste threaten human food resources

JEDDAH: A beach cleanup program targeting marine waste has been launched by the Red Sea Development Co. (TRSDC), the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The firm, which is behind the development of a luxury seafront tourism destination in Saudi Arabia, is already developing a range of environment-friendly policies such as zero-waste-to-landfill, zero-discharge-to-the-sea, zero-single-use plastics, and achieving 100 percent carbon neutrality. On Saturday it launched the Marine Debris Beach Clean Up Program as part of the Red Sea Project. “Eliminating marine debris is receiving increasing attention from the media that it has become a global cause, urging us to participate in protecting our virgin environment for which our seafront is known,” said TRSDC CEO John Pagano.
“The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. It will also shed light on the importance of reducing the use of nonrecyclable plastics, in addition to encouraging the disposing of these substances in a safe and sustainable manner.”
The TRSDC will continue to explore ways for recycled materials to be a source of employment opportunities for the area’s residents, he added. 
TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land. It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

HIGHLIGHTS

• TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land.

• It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

• Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach cleanup program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject

Dr. Rusty Brainard, chief environment officer at TRSDC, said: “Marine debris causes significant damage to the environment and is a major cause of death for many marine organism species, which may ingest these substances. Moreover, the disintegration of plastic waste into small pieces that penetrate into the food web base may also threaten human food resources. Our program for eliminating marine litter is a long-term project that includes ongoing monitoring of environmental health, as well as periodic intervention to clean up any waste in the Red Sea Project.”
TRSDC has teamed up with leading academic institutions in the Kingdom, such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University of Tabuk, on a number of educational initiatives, added Brainard.
The partnership between TRSDC and KAUST has led to an international competition — “Brains for Brine” — that encourages academics, scientists, engineers and the water industry to find solutions for managing the disposal of brine, which is a waste product of water desalination, in a sustainable and commercially viable way.
KAUST has also helped TRSDC with marine spatial planning for the Red Sea Project.
As part of the planning process, major environmental studies were carried out to ensure that the area’s sensitive ecology was protected both during and after completion of the development.
The final master plan, which preserves around 75 percent of the destination’s islands for conservation and designates nine islands as sites of significant ecological value, required several redesigns to avoid potential disruption to endangered species native to the area.
Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach clean-up program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject