Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia unveils plan for new Riyadh airport

Saudi Arabia’s current airport in Riyadh does not see nearly the amount of traffic that Dubai and Doha do.
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia released its plans for a new international airport in the capital Riyadh today. 

The King Salman International Airport will be a massive 57 square kilometers (22 square miles). The facility will be powered by renewable energy and include residential facilities, stores and six parallel runways, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. 

The Public Investment Fund’s video release on the airport also stated that the complex will feature artificial intelligence-powered “augmented reality” technology. 

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia is not a major transit hub like its neighbors Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. All Saudi airports registered 14 million passengers in 2021, according to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics. Dubai alone received more than 29 million international passengers last year, making it the busiest international airport in the world. Doha had 17 million passengers, making it the sixth busiest, according to Airports Council International. 

Riyadh is currently served by King Khalid International Airport. Passenger traffic at the airport is increasing, reaching its highest-ever passenger numbers in August, according to the council. The King Salman airport will be built on the site of the current airport, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

Saudi Arabian airports see a large number of domestic travelers. There were 35 million between all Saudi airports in 2021, according to the General Authority for Statistics. 

The King Salman airport is Saudi Arabia’s latest modernization project via the Vision 2030 economic modernization initiative. The kingdom is seeking to boost its non-oil economy. Most recently, the Saudi Finance Ministry granted licenses to two new artificial intelligence firms. 

The Public Investment Fund is playing a large role in Saudi Arabia's economic transformation. The sovereign wealth fund has invested in regional companies, the LIV Golf professional sports league and major US corporations

Know more: Many of the more ambitious projects in Vision 2030 remain unfinished and plagued by controversy. The crown prince's planned futuristic megacity, NEOM, has been criticized for displacing local Saudi tribes, for example. 

The Public Investment Fund’s pledge to power the King Salman International Airport will be particularly hard to achieve by 2030. Saudi Arabia remains committed to high oil production, though investment in green technology and renewable energy projects is accelerating in the kingdom. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Gulf Briefing Gulf Briefing

Gulf Briefing

Top GCC stories in your inbox each week

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial