Saudi Arabia Reveals Plans To Build One of the World’s Biggest Airports

Saudi Arabia Reveals Plans To Build One of the World’s Biggest Airports

Amid Saudi Arabia’s present push to boost international tourism, the Kingdom announced plans this week to develop a new airport, which promises to be one of the world’s biggest.

The new airfield, to be built in the capital of Riyadh, will be called King Salman International Airport in honor of 86-year-old King Salman and is to be built over the city’s existing King Khalid International Airport. According to Middle East Eye, the announcement was made on Monday by the aging king’s son, also the Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


Sprawling over 22 square miles, King Salman Airport will feature six parallel runways and aims to transport 120 million passengers annually by 2023. It also has aspirations to see that volume increase by 50 percent over the subsequent two decades, thereby accommodating 185 million by 2050, and plans to have the capacity to handle 3.5 million tons of cargo by the same mid-century mark, CNN reported.

Its masterplan is set to be designed by acclaimed architecture firm Foster + Partners, which referred to it as a future “aerotropolis” that will include 7.5 miles of “airport support facilities, residential and recreational facilities, retail outlets and other logistics real estate.” The firm said the new airport will be powered by renewable energy and certified a LEED Platinum facility, thanks to cutting-edge green initiatives incorporated into its design.

“Looking forward to the future, the new King Salman International Airport reimagines the traditional terminal as a single concourse loop, served by multiple entrances,” Luke Fox, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners, said in a news release. “The terminal is very much of its place and connects passengers to the sensory experiences of the city, with natural elements, tempered light and state-of-the-art facilities.”

Rendering of King Salman International Airport. (image courtesy of Foster + Partners)

Saudi Arabia already has some experience in creating and operating a so-called aerotropolis, as it already is home to the world’s largest airport—King Fahd International Airport in Dammam—situated some 250 miles northeast of Riyadh.

Foster + Partners said that the plan for King Salman International Airport is intended to, “boost Riyadh’s position as a global logistics hub, stimulate transport, trade and tourism, and act as a bridge linking the East with the West.” In recent years, Saudi officials have sought to position Riyadh as a rival to the UAE’s eminent tourism and business destination of Dubai.

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