Jeddah’s new airport terminal: Saudi Arabia’s latest landmark

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A view of the new King Abdulaziz International Airport's Terminal 1. (AN photo)
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A general view of the new King Abdulaziz International Airport's Terminal 1. (AN photo)
Updated 25 September 2019

Jeddah’s new airport terminal: Saudi Arabia’s latest landmark

  • King Abdul Aziz International Airport Terminal 1 is located 19 kilometers from heart of Jeddah
  • The long-term goal is for the airport to handle over 80 million passengers per year by 2035

JEDDAH: A day after Saudis celebrated their National Day, King Salman officially inaugurated the new King Abdul Aziz International Airport Terminal 1 (KAIA Terminal 1) in Jeddah, one of the biggest infrastructure projects undertaken in the Kingdom.

After the national anthem was played during Tuesday’s opening ceremony, King Salman toured the airport, which lies 19 kilometers from the heart of the city that is considered the gateway to the holy sites in Makkah.

KAIA Terminal 1 has a total area of 810,000 square meters and a capacity for handling 30 million passengers a year. It will be able to accommodate up to 70 aircraft simultaneously, including the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet.

KAIA Terminal 1 is estimated to be one of the largest terminals in the world. The long-term goal is to handle more than 80 million passengers per year by 2035 to keep pace with the growing demand on air travel and plans for attracting more tourists.


Upon his arrival at the new airport, King Salman was received by Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal; Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed; Minister for Transport and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi; and the president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdul-Hadi bin Ahmed Al-Mansouri.

“The civil aviation sector in the Kingdom has recently achieved qualitative leaps and creative developments, which contributed to 4.6 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicators,” Dr. Al-Amoudi said in his speech.

The number of people using KAIA hit a new record in 2018 by passing the 41.2 million mark.

King Salman leads the official inauguration of the new KAIA Terminal 1, which has the tallest air traffic control tower in the world. (SPA)

Prince Mishaal pointed out that the KAIA Terminal 1 project was designed contribute to the construction of a logistics platform in the Kingdom linking the three main continents of the world.

“The new airport will be able to work pivotally linking East and West. It will also serve as an intensive collection point for the movement of passengers and goods, to become an influential position among international airports in the world, and will compete to get a fair share of the region’s air transport market,” he said.

The 136 meter-high air traffic control (ATC) tower with its 9-meter antenna is the tallest in the world. It is 4.8 meters higher than that of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand. From such heights, air traffic controllers can get a 360-degree view of the entire expanse of the airport.


  • 220 boarding counters and 80 self-service kiosks for passengers
  • 120 shops are spread over almost 28,000 square meters

GACA, in cooperation with the Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS), has equipped the tower with the full gamut of modern equipment to ensure safe navigation: Advanced Surface Movement Guidance & Control System (A-SMGCS);  advanced electronic flight planning system (EFPS); and arrival and departure management system (AMAN/ DMAN).

The tower also boasts advanced emergency communication systems; a voice communication control system (VCCS); communication recording and playback system (RAPS); and an instrument landing system (ILS), in addition to meteorological devices to be used in any weather conditions.

KAIA Terminal 1 contains the latest technical systems, including a baggage-handling system with 16 luggage belts and a total length of 1,700 meters.

Passengers can complete their travel procedures through 220 boarding counters, in addition to 80 self-service machines. The airport also includes 299 lifts.

Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi  Saudi Minister of Transport. (SPA)

Transit travelers can stay in one of the 120 rooms of the three-level, 5-star hotel. Passengers can also enjoy shopping at 120 shops spread over a space of 27,987 square meters.

Moreover, an estimated 3,732 passengers can perform their prayers at the same time in a mosque, which was built over an area of 2,450 square meters, or in 81 praying rooms inside the lounges.

The train station built at the new airport aims to improve transport for visitors and pilgrims to the two Holy Cities, in accordance with the Kingdom’s aim to welcome up to 30 million pilgrims for Hajj and Umrah by 2030.

The pilgrims will be welcomed by a specially designed, tent-shaped complex made up of five main tents (A, B, C, D and E) with fiberglass roofs.

The Haramain high-speed rail network will allow arriving passengers to make fast connections to Makkah, Madinah, and King Abdullah Economic City.

The new airport has 46 gates through which passengers can proceed to 70 aircraft through 94 transferable pedestrian tunnels. Another 28 airplanes can wait for passengers on the other side of the ramp.

Terminal 1 has a terminal control center that contains 44 control units that connect all government agencies and airport operators to the airport network. The center can manage all safety, security, fire and rescue operations in the terminal.

Interestingly, KAIA Terminal 1 is home to one of the biggest airport aquariums, 10 meters in diameter and 14 meters in height with a capacity of a million liters of water.

Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

Updated 16 min 52 sec ago

Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

  • Agreement between agriculture ministry and Dubai's ICBA aimed at conserving natural resources
  • Kingdom's biosaline agriculture research and systems stands to benefit from ICBA's expertise

DUBAI: Agricultural development and environmental sustainability in Saudi Arabia will receive a boost in the coming years, thanks to a new agreement between the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai and the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The agreement aims to enable Saudi Arabia to achieve its goal of preservation and sustainable management of its natural resources by raising the quality of biosaline agriculture research and systems.

The ministry says that the agreement will make use of the ICBA’s expertise in capacity development besides agricultural and environmental research, especially in the fields of vegetation development, combating desertification and climate change adaptation.

“It also includes training programs for Saudi technicians and farmers,” the ministry said. “In addition, it will localize, implement and develop biosaline agriculture research and production systems for both crops and forestation, which contributes to environmental and agricultural integration.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, the ICBA’s director general, told Arab News: “The agreement had been in the making for about two years. That was when we were approached by the Saudi government.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, ICBA Director General, at the center's quinoa fields in Dubai. (Supplied photo)

She said: “We put forward a proposal to demonstrate how the ICBA can help the Saudi government to implement its Green Kingdom Initiative, through which the ministry is trying to restore green coverage in the country and revive old conservation practices.”

Geographical features and climatic conditions very greatly from one part of the country to the other.

In the past, experimentation with such crops as potatoes, wheat and alfalfa proved detrimental to the Kingdom’s environment and natural resources due to faster rates of groundwater withdrawal.

“The ministry wanted to put a halt to over-abstraction of water, so they went through different policies,” Elouafi said.

“They made sure, for example, that farmers stopped producing wheat because about 2,400 liters of water is consumed to produce 1 kg of wheat. It was a huge amount,” she added.

“The new strategy is to find more appropriate crops for the farming community, which is quite large in the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia has been trying to grow its own food on a large scale since the 1980s. 

The objective of the Green Kingdom Initiative is to reduce the agricultural sector’s water demand by finding alternatives to thirsty crops.

The agreement will require the ICBA, over the next five years, to build for Saudi Arabia a new biosaline agriculture sector. 

As part of this shift, cultivation of a number of crops, notably quinoa, pearl millet and sorghum, will be piloted in high-salinity regions and then scaled up.

“The crops did very well in the UAE,” Elouafi said. “We’re looking at Sabkha regions, which have very high salinity and wetlands, and are on the ministry’s environmental agenda.”

Another objective is “smart” agriculture, which will involve raising water productivity, controlling irrigation water consumption and changing farming behavior.

Elouafi said that getting farmers in the Kingdom to stop cultivating wheat took some time as they had become accustomed to heavy government subsidies. In 2015, wheat production was phased out, followed by potatoes a year later and then alfalfa. 

“Farmers were provided everything to the point where they got used to a very good income and a very easy system,” she said.

“Now farmers are being asked to start producing something else, but the income won’t be the same, so it’s very important at this stage that the ministry has a plan and it’s fully understood.”

The agreement envisages preparation of proposals for ministry projects that involve plant production, drought monitoring, development of promising local crop and forestation varieties, and conservation of plant genetic resources.

“We’re also discussing capacity building because the ministry is big and has many entities. Because Saudi Arabia is a large country and has the capacity to meet some of its food requirements internally, what’s required is a better understanding of the country’s natural capabilities in terms of production of the crops it needs, like certain cereals,” Elouafi said.

“The way the authorities are going about it right now is more organized and more holistic. They’re trying to plan it properly.”

Elouafi said that having a better understanding of Saudi Arabia’s water constraints and managing the precious resource is essential.


Although almost the entire country is arid, there is rainfall in the north and along the mountain range to the west, especially in the far southwest, which receives monsoon rains in summer.

Sporadic rain may also occur elsewhere. Sometimes it is very heavy, causing serious flooding, including in Riyadh.

“They (the government) are very interested in drought management systems. The Kingdom has a long history of agriculture,” Elouafi said.

“It has large quantities of water in terms of rainfall, and certain regions have mountainous conditions, which are conducive to agriculture.”

Clearly, preservation of water resources is a priority for the Saudi government. But no less urgent is the task of conversion of green waste to improve soil quality, increase soil productivity and water retention, and reduce demand for irrigation.

The Kingdom is one of at least three Gulf Cooperation Council countries that are taking steps to develop a regulatory framework for the recycling of waste into compost.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are respectively aiming to recycle 85 percent, 75 percent and 60 percent of their municipal solid waste over the next decade, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled “Global Food Trends to 2030.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank in the bottom quartile of the 34 countries covered by the EIU’s Food Sustainability Index, with low scores for nutrition and food loss and waste. 

The answer, according to many farmers, policymakers and food-industry experts, is a shift toward more sustainable management of each country’s natural resources.