Exploring Saudi Arabia: A journey through the lens

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In 2015, Abdulaziz Aldakheel formed the Earth Aerial Documentary Team for his projects. (Photos/Supplied)
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Updated 16 February 2020

Exploring Saudi Arabia: A journey through the lens

  • Abdulaziz Aldakheel flies a two-seater aircraft to take aerial shots of heritage sites of Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Abdulaziz Aldakheel, a businessman and adventurer from Madinah, flies a two-seater aircraft and takes aerial photographs of Saudi Arabia that have been creating waves on social media.
“I like to explore and document sites and everything I see from the top. As a pilot, I know how to get the best spots (to) capture a good photo from the right angle. I also know the right altitude,” he told Arab News.
“Aerial photography is unique and unlike regular photography on the ground, which everyone can do.” He said he has licenses to fly over some banned areas and zones in Madinah.
It all started in 2014, when Aldakheel set off to explore a volcano crater in Madinah. “I also took photographs, which won the admiration of many of my friends and followers on social media,” he said.
“My friends and I started to search for exotic places to explore and learn more about, and also to document them, as we all shared the belief that the Kingdom boasts exotic and great archeological sites, including Islamic and historical ones,” he added.
“We decided to form a team of professional members who are capable of making such explorations and documenting what we see. In 2015, we formed the Earth Aerial Documentary Team, the first and largest volunteer team that uses light-sport aircraft for photography.”
Some of the most aspiring photography experiences for him and his team are rare natural phenomena in desert areas across the Kingdom, such as snowfall.
“Flying is our hobby. We fly twice a week ... The Saudi deserts are the most mesmerizing during the winter. Besides, flying during cold weather is better,” Aldakheel said.
His favorite photography tools are two Nikon D850 cameras. “This type of camera is the most professional and helps you capture photos with very high precision, and zoom in and out easily while flying an aircraft,” he said.
“We fly aircraft as volunteers to serve our country and with the full support of Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman and his deputy Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal. We’re grateful for their continuously encouraging the whole team. We’re proud that they put up the photos of the team in the emirate building in Madinah. We view this as a major achievement and an inspiration that will spur us on to do more,” Aldakheel added.
“Our ambition is to get approval for other sites in the Kingdom so we can document them.” He will be documenting remote areas in the Eastern Province, the Southern Region and the Empty Quarter.
“We’re getting ready for our exhibition in Madinah, where we’ll showcase our works as well as our aircraft, vehicles, photography and camping equipment,” he said.


Saudi Arabia’s tourism minister reviews ‘Sama Abha’ project

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khatib. (SPA)
Updated 09 August 2020

Saudi Arabia’s tourism minister reviews ‘Sama Abha’ project

  • Most of the castle walls are still intact, despite their age

ABHA: Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khatib on Saturday reviewed the “Sama Abha” project. He was briefed about the tourist and investment components of the project located north of Abha.
The project, which costs more than SR12 million, is part of the initiatives to improve the urban landscape of the Asir region.
With other government officials, the minister then visited the historical Shamsan Castle. It is a large rectangular building with three towers and a main entrance on the west side overlooking the city.
A 4-meter-wide door on the west wall opens to a central courtyard, which is surrounded by rooms and facilities. Most of the castle walls are still intact, despite their age.  Stones and clay were the primary construction materials of the time, and stone tools found at the site date back to the third millennium B.C. Fragments of ceramics made of red clay, from the first millennium B.C., have also been unearthed.