Flying in Saudi airspace should offer few surprises for newcomers, but operating on the ground poses surprises and challenges.
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“Insha Allah” (“God willing”) is a common religious phrase used throughout the region,” Mehew observed. “Basically it means that you can request something like fuel, catering, ice, whatever, but if it doesn't show up, 'God willed it not to happen.' Thus the person with whom you made the arrangements takes no responsibility, accepts no accountability, for your request not being fulfilled - it was 'God's will.' Even though I made arrangements the previous day and called to confirm my requests before going to the airport to assure that everything had been completed, I usually showed at the airport an hour to an hour and a half prior to departure just to ensure that my requests for services were actually met and avoid an unnecessary delayed departure. On many occasions, they had not been done when I arrived at the airport.”
But these are just minor annoyances, Mehew affirmed, “as the overall experience was tremendous and rewarding. The culture is intriguing and very different from the Western World, and I found this fascinating. The flying is a great experience that any pilot would welcome. Just have some patience as things will happen on the 'Saudi clock,' not yours. So be proactive, don't let things happen to you - make things happen for you.” BCA