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Saudi set to welcome new airport business city

Saudi set to welcome new airport business city

According to officials, the international airport in Dammam will soon be hosting hotels, halls and playgrounds.

September 21, 2008 12:51 by

PK Abdul Ghafour

Plans are being drawn to develop the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam into a full-fledged business city with advanced facilities to attract more foreign airlines and passengers.

Khaled Al-Muzael, the airport’s director, said that the airport’s development plan would be carried out with the support of international companies. “We started working on the project’s plan about six months ago and it will be ready by the beginning of next year,” he told Arab News.

The project includes construction of hotels, conference halls, an aviation training institute and aircraft maintenance industries as well as playgrounds and parking areas.

According to Al- Muzael, the project would also offer a lot of investment opportunities for private companies especially for real estate developers.

“We are now in the process of developing systems and providing more facilities to attract international airlines,” Al-Muzael said. He said a Saudi-Spanish company has won the contract to establish a duty free shop at the airport, adding that it would be operational early next year.

In a recent statement, Prince Sultan bin Salman, secretary-general of the General Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, said the government hopes to transform the kingdom’s international airports into corporations. “There are plans to transform civil aviation into different sectors to privatize them and open them for investment,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Prince Sultan saying.

Abdullah Al-Ruhaimy, president of General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), said the transformation of airports into corporations would be carried out gradually. “We have resorted to the assistance of international companies to manage international airports,” he added. He said the new plan would improve management of airports.

Recently, the Saudi Crown Prince signed a $240m contract with the Al Mabani Company to develop and upgrade aviation facilities of the Jeddah Airport, as part of an expansion project to increase its annual capacity to 80 million passengers.

According to a GACA statement, the contract will include construction of a new aircraft parking facility and the modernization of ground lights systems and information technology infrastructure. A 6.5 square kilometer area will also be set aside for commercial projects including hotels and offices of companies.

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