AlUla to set majestic stage for Drone Champions League Super Final

The Drone Champions League Super Final will be held in AlUla Old Town on Dec. 20 and will converge ‘technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure.’ (Supplied)
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The Drone Champions League Super Final will be held in AlUla Old Town on Dec. 20 and will converge ‘technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure.’ (Supplied)
AlUla to set majestic stage for Drone Champions League Super Final
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The Drone Champions League Super Final will be held in AlUla Old Town on Dec. 20 and will converge ‘technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure.’ (Supplied)
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Updated 09 December 2023
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AlUla to set majestic stage for Drone Champions League Super Final

AlUla to set majestic stage for Drone Champions League Super Final
  • The Kingdom’s historic city will be first in GCC to host a major DCL event

JEDDAH: The Drone Champions League — billed as the “world championship for professional drone racing” — will hold its first Super Final in the heart of AlUla’s Old Town on Dec. 20.

AlUla will be the first location in the GCC to host a major DCL event, and although no physical drones will be flying there, the league said in a statement: “It will be a chance for drone sports enthusiasts to enjoy the stunning and diverse landscapes of AlUla, varying between golden canyons, lush green oasis or spectacular geological marvels.”

The league’s organizers describe it as a “global pioneer in professional virtual and real-life drone racing. With a mission to combine cutting-edge technology and stunning locations, it has created a one-of-a-kind racing series that has captivated millions around the world.”




The Drone Champions League Super Final will be held in AlUla Old Town on Dec. 20 and will converge ‘technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure.’ (Supplied)

The DCL has rapidly gained popularity since its launch in 2016. Originally rooted in physical drone racing, DCL has evolved into a predominantly virtual format, blending hi-tec drones with the immersive world of gaming.

The annual DCL Drone Prix season features 10 teams. The competition reaches its climax with the top six teams engaging in split finals employing an elimination-style format, culminating in the DCL Super Final.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The annual DCL Drone Prix season features 10 teams.

• The league is exploring a return to real-life drone racing alongside virtual events.

The DCL has staged races in iconic locations worldwide, from the historic streets of Paris to the frozen landscapes of Norway, providing visual spectacles for the audience and challenging courses for the pilots.

“The convergence of technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure will make this Super Final a truly exceptional and unforgettable experience,” the statement said.




Margarete Schramboeck, Aramco Digital board member

The idea to stage the Super Final in AlUla came from Margarete Schramboeck, Austria’s former minister of economy and digital affairs and a board member of Aramco Digital. Recognizing the popularity of esports in contemporary youth culture, Schramboeck felt that Saudi Arabia, more than any other nation, exemplifies this trend.

“When the DCL team approached me, presenting their world-class drone racing league and its capabilities, I immediately saw the potential for Saudi Arabia … I envisioned it as something truly exceptional,” she told Arab News.

Drones and gaming play such an important role for our next generation — they are part of digital transformation and contribute to Saudi Vision 2030.

Margarete Schramboeck, Aramco Digital board member

Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih provided immediate support for the idea when it was presented to him at the French-Saudi Business Forum earlier this year, she added, and put her in touch with Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

“I was so happy my idea was supported by both. I want to thank them for making it possible,” Schramboeck added.




Markus Stampfer, DCL owner

With over 50 million viewers around the world in 2023, the DCL’s appearance in AlUla will attract attention from across the globe for the UNESCO World Heritage site, giving the tech-savvy younger generation the opportunity to delve into AlUla’s cultural heritage through their passion for gaming.

“Drones and gaming play such an important role for our next generation — they are part of digital transformation and contribute to Saudi Vision 2030. I only want to do projects which provide a clear value-add to the Kingdom on multiple levels,” Schramboeck said.

By choosing AlUla, we aim to bring the essence of this extraordinary location to a global audience, shining a spotlight on its cultural and historical importance.

Markus Stampfer, DCL owner

DCL owner Markus Stampfer told Arab News in an exclusive interview: “Our roots lie in physical drone racing and engineering, but, over time, we’ve evolved into a globally accessible esports title. This transformation aligns with the trend of Tourism 3.0, where cities and regions are visualized and digitized.

“This shift has allowed a young audience to be digitally close to World Heritage sites such as the remarkable example in AlUla,” he added. “We’ve achieved our development milestones during the past years to drive this transformation and are proud to be making DCL a global sensation.”

Stampfer also revealed that the league is exploring a return to real-life drone racing alongside virtual events. Several cities have already signed on for this initiative, and there are plans to introduce physical drone racing in Saudi Arabia in 2024.

“This marks a significant step toward achieving the ultimate goal of a hybrid global racing series, seamlessly integrating both digital and real-life experiences,” he said.

Why AlUla?
AlUla has been at the forefront of sustainable development in the Kingdom through its prestigious sports and adventure offerings, hosting numerous events including the AlUla Camel Cup, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup, the Saudi Tour, and, more recently, AlUla Desert Blaze.

AlUla Old Town was recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization as one of the world’s Best Tourism Villages in 2022.

Stampfer emphasized that AlUla’s unique backdrop aligns perfectly with DCL’s vision: “It is a special honor to be in a place that is a World Heritage site, offering a unique backdrop that showcases the historical significance of the region. The league places great importance on cultural resonance and AlUla fits perfectly with our vision for creating a memorable and impactful event.

“By choosing AlUla, we aim to bring the essence of this extraordinary location to a global audience, shining a spotlight on its cultural and historical importance,” he added.

 

 


JIAT investigation clears coalition forces of aerial targeting in Yemen

JIAT investigation clears coalition forces of aerial targeting in Yemen
Updated 20 sec ago
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JIAT investigation clears coalition forces of aerial targeting in Yemen

JIAT investigation clears coalition forces of aerial targeting in Yemen
  • Regarding the At-Tuhayta allegation, after analyzing coalition air missions on that day, JIAT found no evidence of operations in the Hodeidah governorate
  • JIAT also confirmed that Saqeen General Hospital, in the western part of Saada governorate, is on the coalition forces’ no-strike list

RIYADH: The Joint Incidents Assessment Team on Monday issued a statement regarding the allegation of the targeting of a residential area in At-Tuhayta city in Hodeidah governorate, Yemen, on Nov. 12, 2021, in which a man and three children were killed, and two men injured.

After examining various documents, including air tasking orders, mission schedules, and satellite images, JIAT concluded that the claimed location lacked specific coordinates.

Analyzing coalition air missions on that day, JIAT found no evidence of operations in the Hodeidah governorate. Similarly, missions on Nov. 11 and Nov. 13 that year showed no activity in the area.

In a press conference in Riyadh, JIAT spokesman Mansour Al-Mansour also addressed another allegation that coalition forces targeted the Saqeen General Hospital in Saada governorate on May 30, 2015.

After evaluating various sources, including a Doctors for Human Rights report from March 2020 which claimed that coalition aircraft carried out two airstrikes on the hospital and severely damaged it, JIAT conducted a thorough investigation.

Al-Mansour explained that this involved examining air tasking orders, mission schedules, post-mission reports, satellite images, open sources, the National Information Center’s website listing health centers, the coalition forces’ no-strike list, and focusing on international humanitarian law.

JIAT confirmed that Saqeen General Hospital is in the western part of Saada governorate and was on the coalition forces’ no-strike list.

The closest military target hit by coalition forces on May 30, 2015, was 13 km away from the hospital, the Iran-backed Houthi militia receiving a hit from a guided bomb.

By studying the daily mission schedule, JIAT found that on the previous day, coalition forces had carried out an air mission on a target 7,000 meters away from the hospital, using one guided bomb that hit its target. No air missions targeted Saqeen on May 31, 2015.

Specialists studied satellite images of the hospital and found no trace of damage caused by aerial targeting on the main building or its annexes.

JIAT also addressed an incident in a Bani Makki residential area of the Midi district in Hajjah governorate on June 29, 2021, in which one person was killed and two others injured.

JIAT found that forces carried out an air mission on a military target on that date. A vehicle carrying arms for the Houthis in Abs was hit by a guided missile.

The coalition forces did not carry out any missions the previous day or in the following 24 hours.

Specialists studied satellite images of the military target’s location and found that it was about 1,500 meters away from the nearest residential area.

JIAT confirmed that the vehicle, a light truck, was seen underneath a tree and the missile recorded a direct hit.

Al-Mansour said: "There is indeed international cooperation and communication with international organizations; if they have representatives, they may provide us with information."

Concerning allegations or claims that have not been addressed, he outlined the current process: "Based on the team's (Joint Incidents Assessment Team) classification of an allegation, we initiate the investigation procedures and review the results," explained Al-Mansour.

"Some organizations cooperated with us by providing information, while others did not have information, and some pledged to furnish us with the required information," he added.


Warnings issued after NCM forecasts thunderstorms, heavy rain

Warnings issued after NCM forecasts thunderstorms, heavy rain
Updated 04 March 2024
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Warnings issued after NCM forecasts thunderstorms, heavy rain

Warnings issued after NCM forecasts thunderstorms, heavy rain
  • NCM forecasts inclement weather in some parts of the Kingdom until Tuesday
  • Civil Defense calls on everyone to take caution and adhere to its instructions

RIYADH: People are warned to be careful after the National Centre of Meteorology forecast inclement weather in some parts of the Kingdom until Tuesday.

The Civil Defense Directorate said: “Forecasts from the NCM indicate heavy rains in the Riyadh region, including the capital Riyadh, Diriyah, Afif, Dawadmi, Al-Quway’iyah, Al-Aflaj, Hotat Bani Tamim, Al-Hareeq, Al-Zulfi, Al-Ghat, Shaqraa, Al-Majma’ah, Al-Muzahimiyah, Rumah, Marat (and) Huraymila from Sunday.

“The Civil Defense calls on everyone to take caution and adhere to its instructions. Your cooperation is needed. Your safety is our goal.”

The authority has previously warned residents against crossing flowing valleys and canyons as this can be dangerous with potentially fatal consequences.

The NCM has said most regions will experience cloudy weather, thunderstorms and rain until Tuesday.

It has issued warnings of moderate thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds reaching speeds of over 50 km per hour, leading to hailstorms, sandstorms and high waves along coastal areas. This is expected to affect the Jazan, Baha and Asir regions.

The Makkah and Madinah regions are expected to experience light to moderate rainfall.

The forecasts also indicate that some areas will remain overcast and wet until the weekend.

Riyadh had hazy sunshine on Monday. The minimum recorded temperature was 14 C, and the maximum was 27 C.


Saudi project clears 669 Houthi mines in Yemen

Saudi project clears 669 Houthi mines in Yemen
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi project clears 669 Houthi mines in Yemen

Saudi project clears 669 Houthi mines in Yemen
  • The explosives, which were planted indiscriminately by the Houthis across Yemen, posed a threat to civilians, including children, women and the elderly

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s Project Masam cleared 669 mines in Yemen — which had been planted by the Houthi militia — between Feb. 24 and March 1, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Overseen by the Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief, the project’s special teams destroyed 537 items of unexploded ordnance, 109 anti-tank mines, and 23 anti-personnel mines.

The explosives, which were planted indiscriminately by the Houthis across Yemen, posed a threat to civilians, including children, women and the elderly.

Project Masam is one of several initiatives undertaken by Saudi Arabia at the request of King Salman, which has cleared routes for humanitarian aid to reach the country’s citizens.

The demining operations took place in Marib, Aden, Jouf, Shabwa, Taiz, Hodeidah, Lahij, Sanaa, Al-Bayda, Al-Dhale and Saada.

A total of 434,002 mines have been cleared since the start of the initiative in 2018, according to Ousama Al-Gosaibi, the project’s managing director.

These include 275,891 items of unexploded ordnance, 143,621 anti-tank mines, 8,001 improvised explosive devices, and 6,489 anti-personnel mines.

The initiative trains local demining engineers and provides them with modern equipment. It also offers support to Yemenis injured by the devices.

About 5 million people have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, many of them displaced by the presence of land mines.

Masam teams are tasked with clearing villages, roads and schools to facilitate the safe movement of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The project’s contract was extended for another year in June 2023 at a cost of $33.29 million.


Saudi crown prince congratulates newly elected prime minister of Pakistan

Saudi crown prince congratulates newly elected prime minister of Pakistan
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi crown prince congratulates newly elected prime minister of Pakistan

Saudi crown prince congratulates newly elected prime minister of Pakistan

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman has congratulated Mohammed Shahbaz Sharif, on the occasion of being sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The Crown Prince sent a cable to Sharif on Monday expressing “his sincere congratulations and best wishes for success and prosperity for his country, and for the brotherly people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, further progress and prosperity,” the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Pakistan’s newly elected lower house of parliament on Sunday elected Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister for a second time, putting him back in a role he had stepped down from ahead of general elections on Feb. 8. 

Sharif, the candidate for his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and coalition allies, secured a comfortable win over Omar Ayub Khan of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) backed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of jailed former PM Imran Khan.


Saudi civil defense joins search and rescue exercise in Tunisia

Saudi civil defense joins search and rescue exercise in Tunisia
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi civil defense joins search and rescue exercise in Tunisia

Saudi civil defense joins search and rescue exercise in Tunisia

RIYADH: The Saudi General Directorate of Civil Defense is taking part in a collaborative mission with the Kingdom’s search and rescue team in Tunisia.

The White Operation Hypothesis exercise is being held until March 7, reported the Saudi Press Agency, and underlines the ongoing cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Tunisia in civil protection and defense.

It aims to use hands-on experience to bolster the capabilities and knowledge base of the international search and rescue team.

The exercise features various simulated scenarios involving rubble and water, providing an opportunity for valuable practical training.