Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea airport will be designed by Foster + Partners – open for business by 2030

The British architects will design the international airport, which will champion sustainability and smart design

The international airport at The Red Sea Development Company project will adhere to strict sustainability standards. Courtesy The Red Sea Development Company  
The international airport at The Red Sea Development Company project will adhere to strict sustainability standards. Courtesy The Red Sea Development Company  

One of Saudi Arabia's most exciting tourism "giga-projects" has moved a step closer towards completion. The Red Sea Development Company awarded the design contract for its new airport to British firm Foster + Partners.

The milestone announcement came after a competitive tendering process. The project was awarded to the same team responsible for designing some of the world's most forward-thinking destinations, such as the Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong, The Comcast Technology Centre in Philadelphia, the Index Tower in Dubai's DIFC and Shanghai's The Bund Finance Centre. The firm also designed the coming House of Wisdom in Sharjah.

The Red Sea international airport is expected to begin receiving visitors in 2030, and will serve a million tourists annually. The airport structure is due for completion in 2022 (and will first serve people building the tourism infrastructure in the area). It will eventually receive both domestic and international flights and is expected to handle up to 900 passengers per hour.

Strict sustainability rules

The airport at the Red Sea Development project will serve an estimated one million tourists per year with a schedule of domestic and international flight and a peak of 900 passengers per hour. Courtesy The Red Sea Development Company. 
The airport at the Red Sea Development project will serve an estimated million tourists per year with a schedule of domestic and international flights. Courtesy The Red Sea Development Company.

The Red Sea Development Company has strong sustainability goals, and the new airport will follow the same ethos, combining eco-friendly design principles with smart technology.

John Pagano, chief executive of The Red Sea Development Company, said: "We look forward to collaborating with them [Foster+Partners] to develop an innovative design that will enhance the visitor experience, meet our sustainability goals and enable us to deliver an airport for the future."

Gerard Evenden, head of studio at Foster + Partners, said: “The Red Sea Airport has been envisaged as a gateway to one of the most unique resorts in the world and an integral part of the visitor experience.

"Inspired by the colours and textures of the desert landscape, the design seeks to create a calm and luxurious journey through the terminal and will become a transit hub for visitors coming in by both land and air."

The Red Sea Project is surrounded by dozens of untouched natural islands, clear ocean water and some of the region's most interesting marine life.

It's not the first time that Foster + Partners has worked in Saudi Arabia. The design company won the Jabal Omar Development Project competition to design a mixed-use development in Makkah to ease accommodation shortages close to the Kaaba.

It also designed the train stations at the four major cities along the Kingdom's Haramain high-speed rail link, and is involved in developing hyperloop systems across the country.

The Red Sea Development Project is part of Saudi Vision 2030. The project will span 28,000 square kilometres of pristine land on the kingdom's west coast. As well as undiscovered islands and lagoons, visitors will also be able to explore mountains, dormant volcanoes and vast desert landscapes.

Saudi Arabia officially opened to foreign touristsin September this year when it launched visas for visitors from 49 countries.

Updated: November 5, 2019 03:32 PM

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