Safety takes off as theme of aviation summit in Riyadh

Safety awareness in the region is the key theme of the Fourth Middle East Aviation Summit, which began in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The summit has been organized by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


Ahead of the two-day summit the executive committee of the Regional Safety Oversight Organization for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA-RSOO), which aims to promote the safe and effective use of civil aviation, unanimously chose Abdulhakim Al-Tamimi, president of the GACA, as its leader.

GACA had earlier announced the selection of Riyadh as the headquarters of the RSSO for the Middle East and North Africa.

Held under the patronage of Minister of Transport and Chairman of GACA Nabil Al-Amoudi, the summit aims to raise awareness on aviation safety developments, including the Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) and regional safety priorities and targets.

Speaking at the opening session, Al-Amoudi expressed appreciation to King Salman for his approval to host the permanent headquarters of the MENA-RSOO and for allocating a budget of $1.5 million for this.

He stressed that the Kingdom is concerned with civil aviation issues in general and air safety in particular, in addition to applying air safety standards and procedures in the civil aviation industry at a global level.

Air transport is one of the most dynamic industries where it plays a major role in the economies of several countries; it has a direct and indirect impact on the progress of modernization that governments seek for their people,” said the minister. He noted the growing demand for air travel worldwide. 

He said that the Middle East is witnessing the highest and fastest growth rates in the world, increasing the challenges it faces in aviation safety and security.

Saudi Vision 2030 urged the promotion of joint action among countries in the Middle East region as a single block, he said.

The GACA president said that the gathering of a large number of experts and decision-makers in civil aviation in the Middle East region in one location to discuss global developments in aviation safety made the gathering one of the most important events organized at a regional level in the air transport industry.

“We are confident that the countries and the authorities participating in this gathering will harness all their capabilities in order to meet the challenges and cope with them with high efficiency through joint action,” said Al-Tamimi.

He highlighted that the GACA as the host affirmed that it will continue to support all ICAO endeavors, programs and initiatives aimed at achieving the best level of safety at a global and a regional level.

Asked about five Saudi women who made history last month by qualifying to become commercial pilots, the GACA president told Arab News on the sidelines of the summit:

“They have cleared all essential requirements including tests prescribed by the GACA and therefore have been issued licenses to work as commercial pilots; those seeking careers in the aviation industry with pilot training can come forward, everybody is welcome to the training facility in the Kingdom.”

Mohammed Rahma, regional director of the Middle East office of the ICAO, praised the role of the Kingdom for its continued support for the “No country left behind” initiative in the Middle East and its cooperative action to overcome regional problems, including the lack of financial and human resources.

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The summit witnessed the signing of agreements on aviation safety between the Kingdom and some member states.