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Saudis Unveil Plans For Massive 6-Runway Airport Hub To Boost Tourism, Trade

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022 - 02:05 AM

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for a massive new airport in Riyadh as part of the kingdom's ambition to diversify its economy so its fortunes aren't solely determined by the price of oil.  

In announcing the plan, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said the airport would be named after his 86-year-old father, King Salman. Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund -- the Public Investment Fund -- will own the airport.

The move is part of a previously-announced Saudi intention to invest $1 trillion to transform the head-chopping kingdom into a tourist destination.  

Five decapitated bodies on display in Jizan, Saudi Arabia - with their heads in bags (France24

The airport is slated to have six parallel runways on a 22-square-mile expanse, subsuming the existing King Khaled airport. The initial goal is to accommodate upwards of 120 million travelers by the end of this decade.  

Saudi rendering of future King Salman International Airport Riyadh 

It's not all about tourism. Today, just a half-million tons of airfreight transit the kingdom each year. By 2030, MBS wants to see that skyrocket to 4.5 million tons.    

King Salman International Airport will challenge current airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Doha, Qatar. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is also launching a new national airline, RIA, to compete with the likes of Emirates and Qatar Airways. In discussions with Boeing and Airbus, RIA is slated to take its first flight by the end of this year. 

The Public Investment Fund posted a slick video with renderings of the future "aerotropolis": 

"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," Saudi state news agency SPA said. The development is projected to create more than 100,000 jobs.

The lofty goals for the air hub are positively humble when compared to the country's planned building of Neom, a giant, modern mega-city in the northwest part of Saudi Arabia. Believe it or not, it's supposed to center on two parallel skyscrapers that will be 110 miles long, 500 meters tall and house 9 million people. 

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