This New Saudi Airport Has Been Designed to Resemble a Desert Mirage

Airport in Saudi Arabia
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Between job losses, closed borders, climate crises, and a pandemic, it’s not an easy time to be an airport. Operators the world over are teetering on the brink, and the entire industry is awaiting the return of consumer confidence as we ease out of COVID-19 lockdowns. Not in neighboring Saudi Arabia though, where a massive development drive continues unabated, intent on raising not only airports but entire cities out of the desert dust.

This new, as yet nameless international airport, will predominantly serve as a gateway to AMAALA, the kingdom’s latest luxury wellness resort spread across three sites on the Northwestern coast. The airport and resort are scheduled to be completed by 2023 and 2028 respectively – part of Saudi Arabia’s multi-billion-dollar plan to rebrand itself as a major tourist destination. If all goes to plan, the terminal will field roughly one million passengers per year.

Airport in Saudi Arabia
Photo: Courtesy of PA Images

The mirrored, geometric structure takes its inspiration from its surroundings, blending into the sand amid shimmering desert heat. Described variously as ‘a mirage’ and ‘an optical illusion’, the flattened surface fuzes the airport with the horizon, rendering it almost invisible from a distance.

In line with the target clientele, the airport will also boast a climate-controlled hangar specifically for private jets.

The buildings were designed by UK-based design firm Foster + Partners, whose other projects include 50 Hudson Yards in New York, The Oceanwide Center in San Francisco, and an entire planned city in Kuwait.

Airport in Saudi Arabia
Photo: Courtesy of PA Images
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