Twenty-two kilometers was the distance between Abha city in Aseer (south of Saudi Arabia) and Al Soda, the highest point in Asir, west of Abha City, 3,000 meters above sea level, and 30 minutes from Abha airport. While preparing this report, the temperature at Abha was 24 degrees Celsius, and it’s just 15 degrees in the afternoons at Al Soda peak. Over the summit, there is a paved area and another one covered with small white gravel. The space of this area does not exceed 200 square meters, and its western side ends in a steep cliff. Near the cliff, standing erect, is a young man surrounded by busy specialists who measure temperature and wind speed.
A group of parachute pilots prepare for flying over the steep 3,000 meters. A crowd of amateur people sit on the nearby seats. There are seats for families also, and the seats for youths are laid across in the opposite direction. The clock is ticking, pointing to 4:45. The watch controller is calling out, 29, 18, 16, 20, 25. All competitors have stopped opening their parachutes, as competition rules prohibit flying before getting the start signal. Competitor skydivers are only allowed to fly when wind speeds do not exceed 20 to 25 km. The skydivers are required to rush, gliding towards the mountain’s base, where a judging committee sits near the landing spot, which measures “a 10-meter diameter circle.” Countdown begins, the parachute spreads open, and the pilot is lifted up swiftly towards the cliff amidst the applause of those present, along with prayers from his friends who wish him safe flying.
Pilot Mohammed Saleh Al Hezaili said that the support of HRH Amir of Aseer Faisal Bin Al Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz for such events is providing excellent input for tourism across the province. At the same time, pilot Al Abdulla emphasized that Prince Bandar Bin Khalid Al Faisal was the first Saudi to fly over Al Soda.
MAS statistics stress that sport activities are the most attractive events for tourists, especially those that include adventure and excitement.