Pay SR250 for a per­mit, and le­gally fly your drone

Arab News - - Front Page - Es­sam Al-Ghalib Riyadh

Saudi drone en­thu­si­asts were cel­e­brat­ing on Sun­day after avi­a­tion chiefs moved to end con­fu­sion over the de­vices' le­gal­ity.

A recre­ational drone per­mit will cost SR250, just un­der $70, the Gen­eral Au­thor­ity for Civil Avi­a­tion (GACA) said. Ap­pli­cants re­quire only a na­tional iden­tity card or iqama, and the make and se­rial num­ber of the drone.

Com­mer­cial drone per­mits will cost SR500, al­though ap­pli­cants must com­plete a GACA train­ing course.

One per­mit is re­quired for each drone, but there is no need to ap­ply for fur­ther per­mis­sion to fly it.

Any­one wish­ing to im­port a drone must regis­ter the se­rial num­ber on the GACA web­site to ob­tain cus­toms clear­ance. “If the drone is reg­is­tered, Saudi Cus­toms will al­low it into the coun­try, no prob­lem,” GACA said.

The de­ci­sion has de­lighted hob­by­ists, en­thu­si­asts and com­mer­cial drone op­er­a­tors who faced in­ves­ti­ga­tion and de­ten­tion if caught. Sev­eral peo­ple try­ing to smug­gle drones into the coun­try have had them con­fis­cated by Cus­toms, and for­eign jour­nal­ists and film­mak­ers were also banned from bring­ing them into the King­dom with­out per­mis­sion from the Me­dia Min­istry.

“There was al­ways a great deal of con­fu­sion re­gard­ing drone per­mits,” said Seif, a Saudi film­maker. “Where you were re­ferred to de­pended on who you asked and you ended up not fly­ing or fly­ing il­le­gally.”

The per­mit sys­tem will also end the black mar­ket in drones, with heav­ily marked-up prices.

The ma­chines are ex­pected to ap­pear soon in stores around the coun­try, at mar­ket price.

Com­mer­cial drone per­mits will cost SR500.

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