Saudi Power Procurement Co. signs two power purchase agreements with Japan’s Marubeni

Saudi Power Procurement Co. signs two power purchase agreements with Japan’s Marubeni
Saudi Power Procurement Co. signs two power purchase agreements with Japan’s Marubeni

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Electric passenger drones set for a year-end launch in Saudi Arabia, says Front End CEO

RIYADH: Electric passenger drones are set to be launched in Saudi Arabia by the end of this year with Alkhobar-based firm Front End set to introduce the service to the Kingdom, revealed its CEO. 

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Aviation Forum, Majed Al-Ghaslan, who is also the chairman of the company, stated that Front End’s collaboration with the Chinese electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle developer EHang is facilitating the deployment of such electric flights in the Kingdom. 

Al-Ghaslan said: “We’re pushing the boundary of air traffic, also urban traffic management systems. So we’re discussing this with the Civil Aviation Authority (General Authority of Civil Aviation) here in the Kingdom. We’re very closely aligned with the Ministry of Transport.” 

He added: “We have electric buses and cars now; you’re going to have electric flights for passengers. And this is already running in many cities around the world. We want Riyadh and the major cities around the Kingdom to be the first as well. The idea is to launch the pilots this year and hopefully start launching this service as well this year.” 

The official also added that the deployment of these electric drones, capable of carrying passengers, in the Kingdom is very feasible, as such services are running effectively in countries like China, Indonesia, and Japan. 

During the talk, he revealed that these proposed electric flights, which take off vertically, can be used for both carrying passengers and for logistics purposes. 

According to Al-Ghaslan, these flights are capable of traveling up to 30 minutes with two passengers, and with more advanced batteries, the distance can be extended further. 

He explained, “You can do a 30-minute flight, but still, 30 minutes is a long flight. For example, in Riyadh, you can cover end to end because you are going direct path to anywhere, with two passengers. So you can take up to 250 kilograms. And then with more advanced batteries, the distance can be even higher.” 

The official added that the drones capable of carrying passengers, which will be introduced in Saudi Arabia, will be autonomous and will operate using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence. 

Discussing Front End’s eagerness to enter the air mobility sector, Al-Ghaslan noted that the Kingdom’s transformative Vision 2030 program has facilitated the firm’s entry into the industry. 

“Typically, what we do is partner with and localize companies, bringing them into the Kingdom. I never thought I’d be in aviation, but because of the new frontiers that include electric vehicles that vertically take off and land, and advancements in passenger-level drones, that is our interest. We run drone services for our clients, but we are now getting into the air mobility sector,” said Al-Ghaslan. 

He added, “The Vision 2030 program actually enabled this transformation to take place, and there are now national-level strategies. We are at the forefront of making it happen from the private sector at least.” 

The official also noted that Front End is planning to introduce a ride-hailing service in Saudi Arabia using a fleet of electric vehicles, under a partnership with an Indian company named Blue Smart. 

“We’re also launching a ride-hailing service. So, this is something we’re also going to be announcing at the right time, again, electric. So, our theme is around sustainability as well. It’s a company from India called Blue Smart. And this is also going to be announced this year,” he concluded. 

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