Saudi girls can fly: Meet the woman who jumps out of planes for fun

Razan Al-Ajami is one of the first licensed female skydivers who dreams of seeing the sport expand in the Kingdom. (Supplied)
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Razan Al-Ajami is one of the first licensed female skydivers who dreams of seeing the sport expand in the Kingdom. (Supplied)
Saudi girls can fly: Meet the woman who jumps out of planes for fun
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Razan Al-Ajami is one of the first licensed female skydivers who dreams of seeing the sport expand in the Kingdom. (Supplied)
Saudi girls can fly: Meet the woman who jumps out of planes for fun
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Razan Al-Ajami is one of the first licensed female skydivers who dreams of seeing the sport expand in the Kingdom. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 January 2023

Saudi girls can fly: Meet the woman who jumps out of planes for fun

Razan Al-Ajami is one of the first licensed female skydivers who dreams of seeing the sport expand in the Kingdom. (Supplied)
  • She told Arab News: “I first fell in love with skydiving when I tried it a few months ago at an event organized by the Ministry of Sport”
  • KSA’s only licensed female skydiver wants to make Saudi Arabia the sport’s global hub

RIYADH: In a jumpsuit and safety helmet, Razan Al-Ajami is ready to fly, as the young Saudi woman is the first in the Kingdom to get a skydiving license.

Al-Ajami obtained a freestyle skydiving license and indoor skydiving license from the UAE, where the sport is quite popular. However, she first tried the sport in Saudi Arabia.

She told Arab News: “I first fell in love with skydiving when I tried it a few months ago at an event organized by the Ministry of Sport. I figured, why not give it a shot, so I got professional training and did three jumps before realizing that this is what I want to do.”
Al-Ajami is now pursuing her goal of becoming a professional skydiver. Although she was afraid at first, with perseverance and diligent training sessions, she has been able to overcome her worries.

She described the skydiving experience: “At first, the feeling of the wind on your face and your body floating in the air is frightening, but once you get used to it, you’ll want to leap out of a plane once more.”

I want to create a team that will represent Saudi Arabia.

Razan Al-Ajami, Skydiver

In the process of learning more about skydiving and obtaining her license, Al-Ajami faced challenges such as the lack of local avenues for skydiving, and the initial fear of jumping.

She is hopeful about the sport’s future in the Kingdom. “I’m glad to be one of the few licensed Saudi skydivers and hope that this sport will become more well-known in the near future. Freestyle skydiving is not a widespread sport in Saudi Arabia, and I had to travel to other locations, like Dubai, to practice it.

“There are certified clubs in Dubai where you may receive training and a skydiving license. I later obtained a license for indoor skydiving and I am currently working at the Superfly indoor skydiving program in Boulevard World.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Razan Al-Ajami is passionate about skydiving and currently works as an instructor for Superfly at Boulevard World in Riyadh.

• According to Al-Ajami, the lack of an official Saudi women’s skydiving team prevents her from competing in the sport internationally. She aims to create a team that will represent Saudi Arabia in the global arena.

Al-Ajami has been encouraging and inviting more Saudi women to try the sport, and the Superfly at Boulevard World is an amazing opportunity to do so.

“The majority of visitors to this enjoyable indoor flying experience are children, and I adore their reactions since they are always so joyful. Everyone is welcome to participate as long as they weigh less than 140 kg,” she added.

Al-Ajami shared that her ultimate dream is to represent Saudi Arabia while competing at the skydiving world championship. She wants to leave a mark and make Saudi Arabia a global hub for the sport.

As an ambitious young woman, she is striving to start the country’s first skydiving club and form a women’s team.

“The lack of a Saudi women’s team prevents me from competing abroad. I want to create a team that will represent Saudi Arabia,” she said.

 

 


Drones and high tech help in disaster search missions 

Drones and high tech help in disaster search missions 
Updated 09 February 2023

Drones and high tech help in disaster search missions 

Drones and high tech help in disaster search missions 
  • Can modern developments provide solutions, relief to earthquake-hit Turkiye, Syria?

RIYADH: The world continues to watch in despair the devastation caused by two earthquakes — measuring 7.8 and 7.5 on the Richter scale  — that struck southeastern Turkiye and Syria early on Monday morning.

With the combined death toll surpassing 11,000 people by Wednesday, international aid agencies, humanitarian groups, military forces, government and private sector bodies have all been involved in providing help to the regions.

One area supplying some answers has been modern technology.

Drones, which are increasingly known for their role as weapons in modern warfare, are also useful tools during natural disasters such as earthquakes.

“Drones for sure play an important role in Turkiye as we speak,” Henk Jan Gerzee, chief product officer at the Digital Container Shipping Association, told Arab News during the LEAP conference in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Gerzee, who was on the panel looking at “Drones and Autonomous Vehicles,” added: “Firstly, drones can provide a clearer picture of what has happened.

“Drones are equipped with ultra-high-definition cameras. They can also be equipped with heat sensors and detection, and thus detect people.

“They can deliver medicine and smaller pieces of cargo. They can also detect dangerous gases, like methane.” 

Dr. Jassim Haji, president of the Artificial Intelligence Society, who also took part in the discussion, underlined the role AI can play in such disasters, including forecasting extreme events, developing hazard maps, and assisting in situational awareness and decision support.

NASA technology can help in hearing the heartbeats of individuals trapped under debris and rubble. Its technology has frequently been used in the aftermath of earthquakes.

In 2015 the NASA FINDER tool was able to locate four men buried underneath mud, brick, wood and other debris following an earthquake in the Nepalese village of Chautara.

The same technology was also used in 2017 during an earthquake measuring 7.1 in Mexico City.

The UN utilized its emergency mapping satellite service, a live map that shows in real time the damage caused by an earthquake and its level of impact, within hours on Monday.

However, political conflict can have the last word when it comes to getting aid quickly to regions hit by natural disasters.

A resident in northeastern Syria, who spoke to Arab News on condition of anonymity, said: “The main issue is that aid has become politicized, so even if this tech is available, it is likely it won’t reach these areas.”

Roj Mousa, a Syrian journalist from Afrin, told Arab News: “All of our friends and relatives are under the rubble now in Afrin and Jindires.

“I haven’t had a moment to rest since the earthquake happened. I speak with my relatives all the time.

“There is no aid coming to these areas — no water, no food, no rescue. The cities are now further devastated.

“The people helping to pull out the rubble are civilians doing so with their bare hands.

“All the aid is being blocked by members of the Turkish-controlled Syrian militia.”

Mousa added that small cameras used by doctors to see inside the rubble were helpful, but getting such technology into occupied areas was difficult.
 


‘We support women’s empowerment as Vision 2030 goal,’ says US Embassy

‘We support women’s empowerment as Vision 2030 goal,’ says US Embassy
Updated 08 February 2023

‘We support women’s empowerment as Vision 2030 goal,’ says US Embassy

‘We support women’s empowerment as Vision 2030 goal,’ says US Embassy

RIYADH: The US Embassy in Riyadh welcomed US Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of the US Transportation Command, as she met female members of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, saying that it supports women’s empowerment as a Vision 2030 goal.

Van Ovost, who is on a tour of the Kingdom, expressed her happiness at exchanging ideas and sharing experiences with Saudi Arabian Armed Forces female members.

“Ending my day energized after speaking with Saudi Armed Forces service members. We talked about one of my favorite things — mentorship. No one overcomes challenges alone. We all need someone to help us stay with it, remain confident, and provide opportunities to let us shine,” Van Ovost tweeted with photos of her meeting, which was retweeted by the US Embassy.

US Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of the US Transportation Command, interacts with female members of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces. (Supplied)

The US Embassy also tweeted: “Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost @USTRANSCOM_CDR Commander, US Logistics Command @US_TRANSCOM focuses on women’s empowerment and STEM education. The US government proudly supports women’s empowerment as a Saudi Vision 2030 goal.”

She also visited Prince Sultan Military Air Base and the Apple Developer Academy in Riyadh, which is supporting female developers and entrepreneurs in the Kingdom.

“#TogetherWeDeliver! @usairforce Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost,@USTRANSCOM_CDR, visited #TeamPSAB, where she learned more about the 378th AEW mission, our strong partnership with Saudi Arabia, and engaged with US service members who keep the mission successful,” tweeted the embassy.

In another tweet the US Embassy said: “Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost @USTRANSCOM_CDR Commander of the US Logistics Transport Command @US_TRANSCOM toured the Apple Developers Academy @ADA_TWQ during her visit to the headquarters of Princess Noura University @_PNU_KSA. The US Government proudly supports women’s empowerment.”

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arab News sister publication, Van Ovost said that her first visit to Riyadh as commander of US Transportation Command focused on consolidating the strong relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Defense, in the national interest of Saudi Arabia and the US, as well as to achieve security goals.

The US Central Command is working with Saudi Arabia to establish an integrated air defense system to counter missiles and unmanned aircraft, among other technological initiatives, she said.

Van Ovost described US military relations with the Kingdom as solid, saying that the two countries fought side by side during the Gulf War in the early 1990s, and that their partnership is a cornerstone of security and stability in the Middle East.


New initiative to empower 10,000 Jeddah students

New initiative to empower 10,000 Jeddah students
Updated 08 February 2023

New initiative to empower 10,000 Jeddah students

New initiative to empower 10,000 Jeddah students

JEDDAH: Integrated solutions provider Johnson Controls Arabia has announced its participation as founding partner in Saudi Arabia’s new Future Industrialists initiative.

Implemented by the Association for Distinguished Initiatives, General Directorate of Education in Jeddah, and the Industrial Council of the Chamber of Commerce in Jeddah, the company announced that it was supporting the scheme as part of its strategic commitment toward empowering young talent in the Kingdom.

The initiative will involve more than 10,000 male and female high school students competing in three categories for awards worth SR100,000 ($26,650).

Thirty student winners will be offered summer internships at the manufacturing plants of companies taking part in the initiative — including the YORK Manufacturing Complex — and training sessions will be run for 1,000 students.

Johnson Controls Arabia provides services including heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment, fire and security systems, and building management systems and controls throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.

Mohanad Al-Shaikh, chief executive officer of Johnson Controls Arabia, said: “We are proud to be the founding partners of the Future Industrialists initiative as part of our ongoing commitment and efforts toward fueling innovation and sustainability, especially in the development of talent and future leaders, in partnership with the public sector.

“As a leader in the vital industrial sector on a local and global level, we will be introducing students to the latest innovative and integrated industrial processes and mechanisms used at our YORK Manufacturing Complex, YORK’s largest manufacturing facility in the region.

“Johnson Controls Arabia continues to work toward its long-term objectives of shaping and preparing students with the needed skills and experience to excel in the competitive industrial labor market,” he added.

The Future Industrialists initiative’s creative category award will recognize students who present distinctive ideas to raise a factory’s financial or marketing productivity through the suggestions of quality products.

The discoverer category will reward students with ideas for improvement of daily operations, productivity, and quality assurance, while the ambassador class will celebrate those who develop interesting content on factory output, distinctive products, and the company’s role in servicing the community.

Targeting students at public secondary schools in Jeddah, the initiative aims to broaden young talents’ vision and knowledge through conducting field visits and training at local firms and manufacturing facilities, while educating them on the Kingdom’s industrial potential, mainly in Jeddah.

In alignment with Vision 2030 goals, the Future Industrialists initiative aims to boost the economy through motivating students to join the industrial sector in partnership with the private sector.


TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people

TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people
Updated 09 February 2023

TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people

TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people
  • NEOM subsidiary seeks proposals in energy, food, mobility
  • Aim to foster global entrepreneurship, new ways of living

RIYADH: TONOMUS, the cognitive multinational subsidiary of NEOM, has announced the launch of its second venture startup competition at LEAP23 in Riyadh.

Led by the firm’s TONOMUS Venture Studio, the competition started on Feb. 6, and is titled “The Next Billion.” It is an initiative that invites participants to consider new technologies and innovations that a billion people in the world would require for energy, food and mobility.

“We’re looking to recreate that here just like they did in Silicon Valley,” said Beverly Rider, CEO of TONOMUS Venture Studio.

The aim is to foster global entrepreneurship that will nurture the environment and create new ways of community living.

Rider added: “TONOMUS Venture Studio has a bunch of different objectives. So it’s a programmatic display of how you bring entrepreneurship and startups to our region. So what we found when we got NEOM is that one of the things we were missing was an entrepreneurial ecosystem and the small businesses that really fuel the economy, and they take the large companies and create the value around them.”

FASTFACTS

• NEOM subsidiary seeks proposals in energy, food, mobility.

• Aim to foster global entrepreneurship, new ways of living.

Rider said Saudi Arabia’s entrepreneurial vision and diversification of the economy stemming from Vision 2030 makes it an interesting hub prospect in the world.

“Come to the Kingdom? So actually, you would think that that would be the hard part, but that’s been our easy part. Everybody wants to come. The great thing about having a recession in the rest of the world is that people are really interested in looking into new horizons and new geographies. But more importantly than that, the megaprojects have given us an opportunity to basically, you know, start from the bottom and work our way up,” said Rider.

Up to 20 semifinalist teams will receive individualized coaching by experts from TONOMUS Venture Studio, and up to four winning teams will be invited to a 12-week program to incubate their ideas. The competition will welcome submissions until April 12, 2023.

Rider stressed that creating a community is key. “We asked people to come and talk to us about these solutions, their startup, or their ideas. So at about 100 people showed up yesterday. We’re going to do six more of them next year.”

TONOMUS Venture Studio comprises both established and emerging entrepreneurs. It aims to cement NEOM’s reputation as the epicenter of innovation, and the Kingdom as a place where the world’s brightest minds and top tech talent can bring their ideas to life.
 


Who’s Who: Abdullah Bahanshal, Lenovo Group country manager for KSA

Who’s Who: Abdullah Bahanshal, Lenovo Group country manager for KSA
Updated 09 February 2023

Who’s Who: Abdullah Bahanshal, Lenovo Group country manager for KSA

Who’s Who: Abdullah Bahanshal, Lenovo Group country manager for KSA

Abdullah Bahanshal was appointed Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group country manager for Saudi Arabia in January, and is responsible for managing and expanding company revenue in the Kingdom.

Bahanshal has over 20 years of experience in the information and communications technology industry, especially in leadership, strategic sales and development.

Before joining Lenovo ISG, he was country sales leader for the productivity solutions and services sales team at Honeywell International Inc. for two years.

He also focused on end-user relationships through channel parties across the Kingdom, while also developing country growth strategic plans.

Before that, he worked with global ICT brands, including Huawei, Cisco Systems, and Cerner. During his time at previous ICT firms, he won awards for performance, sales and strategy, and also became one of the first Saudis certified by the International Coaching Federation.

Bahanshal holds a bachelor’s degree of science in pharmaceutical science and a master’s of science in health informatics from King Saud University in Riyadh. 

He is also certified in project and program management, and is a certified coach specializing in personal and career coaching. He is currently pursuing his master of science studies in psychology. 

Bahanshal has also volunteered with Monsha’at as a business mentor to help and support entrepreneurs.

Alaa Bawab, Lenovo’s general manager of Middle East and Africa, said: “Abdullah brings with him years of senior experience in the ICT industry and has worked with some of the biggest names. His knowledge, talent and skill make him a vital part of our expansion into the Kingdom. We believe in his leadership experience and are confident that he can take forward our presence in the Kingdom to new heights and establish Lenovo as an industry leader.”