First Saudi balloon pilot has a license to thrill

First Saudi balloon pilot has a license to thrill
1 / 3
Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Wohaibi’s certification on July 27 marked the completion of a goal that began in Australia in 2019. (Supplied)
First Saudi balloon pilot has a license to thrill
2 / 3
Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Wohaibi is keen to train new pilots and start a tourism business. (Supplied)
First Saudi balloon pilot has a license to thrill
3 / 3
Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Wohaibi’s certification on July 27 marked the completion of a goal that began in Australia in 2019. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 11 August 2022

First Saudi balloon pilot has a license to thrill

First Saudi balloon pilot has a license to thrill

JEDDAH: The first Saudi to become a licensed hot air balloon pilot in the Kingdom is ready to give back to the community after his “blessed and lucky” three-year training experience.

Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Wohaibi’s certification on July 27 by the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation marked the completion of a goal that began in Australia in 2019.

He told Arab News that his dream of becoming a hot air balloon was sparked while completing his master’s degree in Australia three years ago.

“I remember that day in 2019. I was watching a group of hot air balloons drifting slowly across the sky. The beauty of seeing the balloons moving peacefully almost serenely on the horizon is what hooked me the most. I was so close that I could hear the sound of its dramatic flame gas burner as it filled the balloon with heated air,” Al-Wohaibi said.

Al-Wohaibi has always had a liking for high altitudes, and had completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering, as well as another bachelor’s degree in airworthiness management.




Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Wohaibi’s certification on July 27 marked the completion of a goal that began in Australia in 2019. (Supplied)

“I was very curious about the balloon experience, although I have been to many other adventure experiences, this one was the most beautiful; it was so peaceful,” he said.

Since that day in 2019, Al-Wohaibi was inspired to explore the culture and history of the hot air balloon and embark on his training journey.

“This is what I always wanted to do, and most importantly, it is what I want to share with my loved ones in the Kingdom,” he said.

Al-Wohaibi holds two private pilot licenses: One for fixed-wing aircraft, issued by the UK in 2015, and another issued by Australia in 2019.

In 2020, he was licensed to fly hot air balloons by the Australian Balloon Federation as well as the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Completing his training and gaining registration “was indeed an honor and has allowed me to explore more and gain a new experience,” Al-Wohaibi said.

He passed the Australian test in his first attempt and finished training in just five weeks, breaking a record for the fastest training time in the country.

“Completing the course in such a tight timescale was a challenging achievement; normally trainees would take up to 12 months to complete the course. However, I am so thankful for all the family support, as the training site was a three-hour drive away, which placed some strain on my family and I was doing my master’s degree as well,” he said.

“I feel so blessed and lucky as I was taught how to fly with the Australian national champion Paul Gibbs in the high country of Australia’s Victoria state. Gibbs is a highly accomplished pilot, with numerous awards and qualifications in the ballooning field.”

Al-Wohaibi is certified to fly larger balloons carrying up to 36 passengers and is allowed to travel within fly-in airports, “Getting qualified is just the start — mastering flying, acquiring new skills, and transferring the knowledge and experience is the goal,” he said.

And Al-Wohaibi is now ready to give back to his country and community by introducing people in the Kingdom to the culture of hot air ballooning, so that they can see the natural beauty of Saudi Arabian landscapes in peace.

“I want to transfer the knowledge and experiences I gained to benefit those interested in this sport in the Kingdom,” he said.

Al-Wohaibi is also keen to train new pilots and start a tourism flight business, contributing to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

As the tourism sector surges inside Saudi Arabia, Al-Wohaibi had the chance earlier this year to fly during a hot air balloon show in AlUla.




The first hot air balloon experience was brought to Saudi Arabia in AlUla in 2019. (Supplied)

The event was part of the AlUla Skies Festival, which brought more than 150 hot air balloon flights to the ancient site.

“I can see the drastic development of tourism and sports happening, and I think flying hot air balloons is a significant contribution for sure,” Al-Wohaibi said.

One of his main ambitions moving forward is to own a personal balloon, enabling flights through the “best locations” in the Kingdom and sharing the experience with friends and family.

“Having a good understanding of the weather, especially local weather and peculiarities, is crucial. Saudi Arabia features a very diverse meteorological environment, which in itself is a satisfying challenge,” Al-Wohaibi said.

“I will be launching from different cities around the Kingdom. I am also interested in being involved in as many international balloon events and competitions, nationally and internationally.”

The first hot air balloon experience was brought to Saudi Arabia in AlUla in 2019.


Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage showcased at Terra Madre conference in Italy

Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage showcased at Terra Madre conference in Italy
Updated 27 September 2022

Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage showcased at Terra Madre conference in Italy

Saudi Arabia’s culinary heritage showcased at Terra Madre conference in Italy
  • Culinary Arts Commission registers 13 famous Saudi foods on the Ark of Taste list of endangered foods

RIYADH: The Saudi Culinary Arts Commission is hosting a pavilion at the Terra Madre Network conference in Turin, Italy, to showcase some of the Kingdom’s unique dishes and indigenous foods.

The commission said on Tuesday: “At the conference, 13 elements of Saudi cuisine were added to the Ark of Taste Archives, an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods managed by the Slow Food movement. 

“This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Culinary Arts Commission and Slow Food to support the Kingdom’s burgeoning culinary sector, including the involvement of Saudi farmers’ markets in the Global Slow Food Earth Market list, and the identification of further opportunities for cooperation.”

Mayada Badr

Slow Food is a global movement that operates in over 160 countries to preserve and increase awareness of endangered foods that are unique in taste and native to a certain region.

Some of the Saudi foods that were listed in the Ark of Taste include hassawi rice, native to Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and considered one of the most expensive types of rice, and samh seeds, native to Al-Jouf Province. 

The list also includes the distinct white desert truffles of the Northern Region called Al-Kamaa, khawlani coffee beans from Jazan Region — among the finest in the world — and Al-Maghmi dates, a traditional Saudi dish made with molasses and sesame seeds.

HIGHLIGHT

Some of the Saudi foods that were listed in the Ark of Taste include hassawi rice, native to Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and considered one of the most expensive types of rice, and samh seeds, native to Al-Jouf Province.

Registering these foods comes as part of the commission’s efforts to preserve the historical legacy of culinary arts in the Kingdom and encourage the public to protect them from extinction.

Commenting on the participation, Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission, said: “The commission’s attendance at this event is a culmination of the work by dedicated producers around the Kingdom to elevate our culinary sector. We are delighted to showcase the best of Saudi cuisine at Terra Madre, and we hope audiences will enjoy sampling some of our unique and delicious dishes.”

The conference also saw the Aseer region in Saudi Arabia formally awarded the title of World Region of Gastronomy 2024 by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism.

The international jury of IGCAT experts recognized the welcoming spirit of the Aseer community and their willingness to showcase and share their food and culture.

The jury commented: “The light of the Middle East shines from the region of Aseer. A lot of work has been done to empower the community and prepare them for welcoming future visitors to their unique culture. The culinary scene of Aseer is rooted in tradition and it has the potential to become a culinary destination and contribute to the creative economy.”

On the award for the Aseer region, Badr said: “Saudi Arabia has a diverse culture and a rich heritage, and we are proud that the Aseer region has been formally awarded World Region of Gastronomy 2024, in recognition of their efforts to preserve the region's diverse and distinctive food culture while protecting the environment and empowering younger generations.”

Saudi chef Hatoon Altoukhi, touted as one of the best authentic Italian food chefs on social media, told Arab News: “We have reached a great milestone towards our (Vision) 2030 goals. The Saudi region of Aseer is awarded World Region of Gastronomy in Italy, where the Italians respect and give much more attention to the food industry.

“Being a Saudi chef who specializes in Italian cuisine and (who) married into an Italian family, I immediately shared the news with our family in Italy and felt so much pride that we are now en route to greatness and international gastronomy recognition,” he said.

The Kingdom’s participation at Terra Madre is part of broader efforts to stimulate cultural exchange and dialogue with counterparts worldwide while introducing Saudi Arabia’s diverse culinary heritage and native agricultural crops to the world.

Terra Madre is a network of food communities that holds a major conference every two years in Turin to foster discussion and present innovative concepts on food, globalization, and economics.

The conference aims to connect producers from across the food supply chain to encourage collaboration and improve their skills for a more developed global food system.


Dutch Embassy in Riyadh hosts ceremony renewing cooperation of honorary consuls

Dutch Embassy in Riyadh hosts ceremony renewing cooperation of honorary consuls
Updated 27 September 2022

Dutch Embassy in Riyadh hosts ceremony renewing cooperation of honorary consuls

Dutch Embassy in Riyadh hosts ceremony renewing cooperation of honorary consuls
  • The ceremony is a renewal of the 2017 Honorary Consulate Agreement, which will renew the cooperation between the two countries until 2027

RIYADH: The Embassy of the Netherlands in Riyadh hosted a signing ceremony renewing the Honorary Consulate Agreement for five years signed by both honorary consuls on Tuesday.

“Today we are here for a signing ceremony with our two honorary consuls, one based in the Eastern Province and one in the Hijaz region, to re-arrange another five years of cooperation here,” Janet Alberda, Dutch ambassador to the Kingdom, told Arab News.

Through the agreement, the honorary consuls will continue to support the embassy’s mission in the Kingdom through sharing networks and supporting economic and governmental initiatives.

Nashwa Taher, honorary consul for Makkah and Jeddah region, and Sulaiman Al-Suhaimi, honorary consul for the Eastern Province, were present alongside the Dutch ambassador, and Hazim Alrasheed, general director of diplomatic representation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The honorary consuls play a pivotal role in the Netherlands’ international network. One of their primary missions is to support trade collaborations between the two countries and aid in facilitating opportunities to strengthen bilateral relations.

“This is a renewal made by our King Willem-Alexander, so this means that there is a lot of recognition and a lot of trust. This is a thank you — appreciation for the work that we do with these individuals,” the ambassador explained.

The ceremony began with a video speech from Guusje Korthals Altes, deputy director of the MENA department of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thanking the honorees for their work.

“This agreement signing means a lot — I am so proud that the Dutch government has the trust in me to continue and be a part of this kind of relegation between both countries,” Taher said.

The ceremony is a renewal of the 2017 Honorary Consulate Agreement, which will renew the cooperation between the two countries until 2027.

“I am so proud that the Saudi government has given me the go-ahead to be the first woman as the honorary consul, and this is an achievement for me that I will be proud of my whole life,” Taher added.

 


First Qur’anic verse beamed into Makkah sky with lasers

The first Qur’anic verse revealed to Prophet Muhammad was featured through laser light on Jabal Al-Noor in Makkah. (Supplied)
The first Qur’anic verse revealed to Prophet Muhammad was featured through laser light on Jabal Al-Noor in Makkah. (Supplied)
Updated 27 September 2022

First Qur’anic verse beamed into Makkah sky with lasers

The first Qur’anic verse revealed to Prophet Muhammad was featured through laser light on Jabal Al-Noor in Makkah. (Supplied)
  • “Throughout history, it was called Mount Hira, but it has been named Jabal Al-Noor in reference to the light that radiated throughout the earth after the first verse of the Holy Qur’an, ‘Read in the name of thy Lord who created,’ was revealed”

MAKKAH: Residents of Makkah have been treated to a laser light display that filled the sky with the first Qur’anic verse revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

The verse was beamed over the district of Jabal Al-Noor, 4 km northeast of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and home to the Cave of Hira, where the prophet received the first revelation by the Angel Gabriel.

Dr. Fawaz Al-Dahas, director of the Makkah History Center, said: “Jabal Al-Noor has a historical value for Muslims in general, and is one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in Makkah.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 aims to enrich the religious and cultural experience of visitors, especially at sites that hold historical importance for Muslims.

• The laser display was organized by Samaya Investment Co., which is also building two cultural projects in Makkah: A Museum of Revelation in Jabal Al-Noor and a Museum of Migration.

• Under the direct supervision of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites and other agencies, work has also begun to establish the Hira Cultural District on an area of more than 67,000 sq. meters.

“Throughout history, it was called Mount Hira, but it has been named Jabal Al-Noor (Mount of Light) in reference to the light that radiated throughout the earth after the first verse of the Holy Qur’an, ‘Read in the name of thy Lord who created,’ was revealed.”

He added that the prophet remained secluded for days at Jabal Al-Noor, reflecting on God’s greatness and rejecting polytheism.

Al-Dahas said: “What distinguishes Makkah from the rest of the world’s cities is that it is an open museum. All its mountains, valleys, rocks and cemeteries represent a unique history, telling immortal stories of the prophet and his honorable companions.”

Abdullah Al-Azhari, a resident of Jabal Al-Noor, said: “The first revealed verse of the Holy Qur’an with laser lights on Jabal Al-Noor gave a spiritual dimension to the place, adding prestige and veneration.”

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 aims to enrich the religious and cultural experience of visitors, especially at sites that hold historical importance for Muslims.

The laser display was organized by Samaya Investment Co., which is also building two cultural projects in Makkah: A Museum of Revelation in Jabal Al-Noor and a Museum of Migration.

The cultural centers aim to acquaint visitors with the history and legacy of the prophet’s mission, through presentations from the pre-Islamic era to the present.

Under the direct supervision of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites and other agencies, work has also begun to establish the Hira Cultural District on an area of more than 67,000 sq. meters.

It will comprise many cultural and tourist spots such as the Revelation Gallery and the Holy Qur’an Museum.

The gallery, one of the main parts of the Hira Cultural District, will highlight the revelations to the prophet through an advanced technical presentation, and the museum will highlight the Holy Qur’an’s content through presentations.  

Mohammed Al-Hussaini, a local resident, said: “The great cultural projects would put an end to the randomness that we used to live in. The place will become more organized and have a civilized look.

“We are eagerly waiting for the completion of the entire project, which will reflect spiritually, socially and culturally on the place.”

 

 


It’s business time as Saudi entrepreneurs try to make it big

It’s business time as Saudi entrepreneurs try to make it big
Ibrahim Al-Rashid, CEO of the Social Development Bank, wears virtual reality glasses during the inauguration of the Souq Addar e
Updated 27 September 2022

It’s business time as Saudi entrepreneurs try to make it big

It’s business time as Saudi entrepreneurs try to make it big
  • The exhibitions allow entrepreneurs to display their handmade and unique goods until Oct. 7
  • The bank is hoping to enable businesses to grow big enough to take part in regional and international exhibitions

RIYADH: Artists and pottery makers are among a host of talented Saudis displaying their work at a Riyadh event to promote and support the Kingdom’s small-business entrepreneurs.
The Social Development Bank’s Souq Addar exhibition has opened as the centerpiece of a countrywide initiative to promote “microenterprises” in 36 cities.
The exhibitions allow entrepreneurs to display their handmade and unique goods until Oct. 7, while also helping the bank to promote the products locally and internationally.
Shereen Al-Abdulrahman, the SBD’s products and program development manager, told Arab News that the bank is hoping to enable businesses to grow big enough to take part in regional and international exhibitions.
Visitors to Souq Addar admired the work of Hadeel Al-Mazrou, who said her hobby of creating art out of nails and thread had developed over the last five years into a rewarding business. So far, she has created 500 unique pieces.
The artist said she is passionate about her business, and her husband is “proud of my work and even asked me to make a special artwork for him to put in his office.”
Dhai Al-Habib, who creates pottery inspired by the Kingdom’s heritage, said she had gone from a novice to a business owner in three years. “My father was the biggest supporter in every step of my project,” she added.
Her biggest order so far, for 125 pieces, was from a local coffee shop, she said, adding: “People like new things, especially if the products are handmade.”
Aside from providing an income, Al-Habib said she also finds her work therapeutic as “it’s a talent that removes all of life’s pressures.”
She told Arab News that people should never underestimate what they can do with their talents and hobbies, “because there’s nothing more beautiful than working in a field you love.”
Ibrahim Al-Rashid, CEO of the SDB, inaugurated the Souq Addar exhibition in the presence of officials, participants and guests.
The bank also announced that it will launch the first community kitchen in Saudi Arabia next month.
 


Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Port wins top world award

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Port in Rabigh. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Port in Rabigh. (SPA)
Updated 27 September 2022

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Port wins top world award

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Port in Rabigh. (SPA)
  • Jay New, CEO of King Abdullah Port, commented: “We are delighted to accept this prestigious accolade in recognition of King Abdullah Port’s remarkable success and growing reputation as a leading global hub connecting continents

DUBAI: Further underlining its status as one of the world’s leading maritime logistics hubs, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Port has been named “Sea Port of the Year” at the inaugural edition of the Landmarks in Logistics Awards.

The award was presented during a glittering ceremony in Dubai, which celebrated the achievements of key industry players whose products and services have had a transformative impact on the logistics sector.

Hosted by Logistics Gulf News, a fast-growing niche media portal, the awards highlight the accomplishments of leading organizations in the field.

Jay New, CEO of King Abdullah Port, commented: “We are delighted to accept this prestigious accolade in recognition of King Abdullah Port’s remarkable success and growing reputation as a leading global hub connecting continents.

“Our state-of-the-art facilities have been built to the highest international standards and are designed to support trade and economic growth in the Kingdom for decades to come. We look forward to many more milestones ahead as we continue our journey toward fulfilling the promise of Vision 2030, the wise leadership’s roadmap to enduring prosperity.”

The judging panel for the inaugural edition of the awards included experts of logistics, transport, and supply chain management, while the ceremony was attended by the region’s top industry players and other key stakeholders.