Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz has unveiled the masterplan for a new airport, King Salman International Airport, to boost Riyadh’s position as a global logistics hub, stimulate transport, trade and tourism and act as a bridge linking east to west.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) the airport will be one of the largest in the world, with six runways, and will include the terminals already present in Riyadh’s existing airport, King Khalid International Airport (RUH).

For comparison, Dubai’s older airport Dubai International Airport (DXB) has two runways, while the newer airport to the south of the city, Dubai World Central (DWC) is to have five runways after its final phase, according to reports. 

SPA said the project is in line with Saudi Arabia’s vision to transform Riyadh into one of the top 10 cities in the world, and to support the city’s population growth to 15-20 million people by 2030, with the airport catering to 120 million travellers by 2030 and 185 million travellers by 2050. 

The airport is expected to contribute SAR 27 billion ($7.2 billion) annually to the kingdom’s non-oil GDP and create 103,000 direct and indirect jobs, the agency said, adding that there will be 12sqkm of airport support facilities, residential and recreational facilities, retail outlets and other logistics real estate.

It will become an “aerotropolis”, but the culture of the city of Riyadh and Saudi Arabia will be taken into consideration in its design, the statement said, while also being powered by renewable energy.

It concluded that the announcement is part of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) strategy to focus on diversifying the economy in line with the National Transport Strategy and the Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)