AMAALA selects mirage-inspired airport design by Foster + Partners

Saudi Arabia’s 3,800km2 AMAALA gigaproject taking shape in the north-western coast of the kingdom, which is led by the Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has unveiled plans for a new international airport, with a design inspired by the optical illusion of a desert mirage.

The terminal and control tower design was conceptualised by UK-based architectural and design firm Foster + Partners, while the airport master plan was designed by international consultancy and engineering group Egis.

The airport will incorporate one-of-a-kind design practices, drawing inspiration from its location. It is due for completion in 2023 and is estimated to accommodate one million travellers per year once it officially opens.

Commenting on the announcement of the new international airport, the chief executive officer of AMAALA, Nicholas Naples, said: “A gateway to AMAALA, visitors will be greeted by personalised experiences from the moment they step off the plane. From design to personalisation, this will be no ordinary airport.

“Immersed in the spirit of AMAALA, the airport will create an environment that embodies the philosophy of the destination beyond. This will be a unique space that personifies luxury and marks the start of memorable experiences for the world’s most discerning guests. We are delighted to work with Foster + Partners and Egis on this project.”

On approaching the airport, travellers will see land art from the air. Entering the terminal, visitors will be greeted with a mirrored edifice rising from the desert. The structure takes its inspiration from the surrounding environment, resulting in a mirage effect.

A spacious courtyard will anchor the terminal and will be complemented by contemporary interiors complete with artwork and tailored experiences. The airport will reflect AMAALA’s ultra-luxury hospitality spirit, providing an exclusive private-club experience, encapsulating AMAALA’s pillars of art and culture; wellness and sport; and sea, sun, and lifestyle. 

The airport also includes climate-controlled hangars that will be available for private jets as well as a ground transfer service that is accessible from inside the arrival hangar.

The senior executive partner of Foster + Partners, Gerard Evenden, said, “Responding to the surrounding landscape, the terminal building will form an exclusive gateway to the AMAALA resort. The passenger experience through the entire building will be akin to a private members club – luxurious and relaxing. Focusing on the themes of art, wellbeing and sport, the design seeks to establish a new model for private terminals that provides a seamless experience from resort to aeroplane.”

The Middle East and South Asia aviation director of Egis, Jacques Khoriaty, said: “Along with embodying the luxurious spirit of the resort, the AMAALA airport meets the highest environmental design and sustainability standards, is operationally versatile, and incorporates the latest airport technology and best practice standards on offer.”


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