Bahrain needs “drone age” rules
By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
With the launch of the iPhone14, Bahrain entered the sci-fi world of drones in a unique way. Batelco, in collaboration with the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) delivered the first iPhone14 in the Kingdom at a midnight launch by drone. Given the traffic on Bahrain’s streets especially on weekends, does this mean we can look forward to commercial use of drones to beat the crush of vehicles on our streets? Of course, this may quickly lead to hazardous air traffic conditions, so we have to be careful what we wish for.
The iP - hone14 has already generated interesting news related to customer interest, with one young man spending hundreds to fly from Kerala to Dubai to be the first by a few hours to get his hands on an iPhone14. He made sure the news went viral on social media – but I wonder if he is ready with answers to questions that Iam sure the customs officers will have for him when he returns! Are we in Bahrain thinking clearly about the implications of commercial drone delivery? In the USA, where Amazon, Walmart and other giant corporations have petitioned to launch drone delivery services, there is an argument brewing that they are snatching up private airspace rights and paying the State nothing in return.
What this means to the ordinary citizen is that companies will seek federal authority to route low-flying drones directly over their home or school playgrounds and there will be no right to object. Commercial delivery drones fly within a few hundred feet of the ground through space that landowners have historically controlled. Like the internet and social media, drones too are an inevitable sign of progress I guess but we must start now to draft laws and rules that will keep citizen safety and rights in view when large-scale use of drones are used. Otherwise can you imagine the potential for damage when two drones carrying fragile loads collide over a crowded school yard or busy street? We are at the start of an adventure. Let us get the rules right.
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism