The foundation stone has been laid for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Qunfudah Airport by Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal. Due to complete in two years, nine companies are competing to work on the project, which is expected to serve seven coastal provinces. 

A committee was formed to inspect several sites for the project, with General Civil Aviation Authority (Gaca) determining appropriate controls for air traffic safety, and Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) carrying out studies on climatic conditions and their impact on air traffic.

READ: What comes next for the Middle East's aviation sector?

According to a an Arabic-language report by Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom’s state-run news outlet, numerous sites were studied within Al-Qunfudah for a period of 10 months, and a spot was picked north of the governorate. However, this recommendation was dropped due to environmental reasons, and eventually, a site 25km north of Qunfudah, spanning around 2,400ha, has been picked for the project, according to the report that has been translated to English.

Plans are also in place for project implementation, with final designs for the scheme carried out by Saudi professionals. According to its project page on ProTenders, Al-Qunfudah Airport has Zuhair Fayez Partnership engaged as its design consultant. 

Upon completion, the airport will serve 500,000 passengers per year. Al-Qunfudah Airport’s design plans include three halls, a runway, a road network, a five-aircraft hangar, an air control tower, and car park spaces.

With offices in Riyadh, Makkah, Damman, and Madinah, Zuhair Fayez Partnership is one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest architecture firms. Founded by architect Zuhair Fayez in Jeddah, the firm has a presence in Cairo, Dubai, Manila, and Hyderabad, in addition to a slew of major completed projects under its belt. One such local project are the High Technology Park Buildings for Pension Fund in Riyadh.

Aviation is a key area of focus for Saudi Arabia as part of its Vision 2030 economic diversification programme. This May, Dammam Airports Company (Daco) signed agreements with Vanderlande and Serco Middle East for King Fahd International Airport. Vanderlande will build an automated baggage handling system at the airport, while Serco Middle East will boost the airport’s fire and rescue services. Both contracts were signed at Dubai Airport Show.

READ: Gulf's aviation construction projects valued at $49bn

In August 2017, Gaca announced that Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport (RUH) was to receive modernisation works following the season of Hajj last year. All four of RUH’s terminals were slated for renovation work with new architectural designs to be implemented for the facilities