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Saudi Arabia Plans to Build Mega-Airport in Riyadh

The new six-runway complex will replace the existing King Khalid International Airport and is expected to open its doors in 2030

by Fergus Cole

November 30, 2022

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, King Abdullah Financial District / Photo: Mohammed younos/Shutterstock

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build a huge hub airport in its capital, Riyadh, with an astonishing six runways.

The plans were announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday, aiming for the new airport to become a global transportation and logistics hub by 2030.

The new airport is set to expand on and replace the existing King Khalid International Airport (RUH). Once the project is completed, it will ultimately be renamed the King Salman International Airport.

According to the initial plans, the new airport will cover more than 57 square kilometers (22 square miles) and will be able to accommodate up to 120 million passengers each year by the time it’s opened. The Kingdom also plans to expand this capacity over the following decades to accommodate 185 million passengers annually by 2050 and 3.5 million tons of cargo.

It is set to have an impressive six runways running parallel to each other, making it one of the largest international airports in the world in terms of the number of runways and the fourth-largest airport in the world in terms of geographical area. 

Photo: Courtesy of Public Investment Fund

The ambitious mega-project will be funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF). However, no figures have been released to suggest how much the construction will cost.

The project is part of the Saudi Crown Prince’s broader plans to overhaul the country’s image and transform it into a significant tourist destination named Vision 2030. 

The airport in Riyadh will also serve as the primary hub for RIA, a brand-new airline created to compete with neighboring giants Qatar Airways and Emirates

Photo: Downtown Riyadh. Courtesy of Ekrem Osmanoglu / Unsplash

The existing national flag carrier, Saudia, is expected to have its primary hub at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED).

SPA, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency, said, “The airport project is in line with Saudi Arabia’s vision to transform Riyadh to be among the top ten city economies in the world and to support the growth of Riyadh’s population to 15-20 million people by 2030.”

The news agency also claimed that the new airport would provide over 100,000 jobs to the local area.