Al Ula airport to be transformed to support tourism hub plans
The transformation of Al Ula’s Prince Abdulmajeed Bin Abdulaziz Airport and the Maraya Concert Hall are set to be completed by the end of this year as part of plans to create a major new tourism destination in Saudi Arabia.
The construction work is being carried out under the leadership of Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud, Minister of Culture and governor of the Royal Commission for Al Ula (RCU), a statement said.
The airport development project will transform Al Ula’s domestic airport into an aviation hub that can welcome guests from around the world.
The plans will see an increase in capacity from 100,000 passengers to over 400,000 a year, marking an important step in the RCU’s aim to accommodate two million tourists by 2035.
Development of the airport will include the construction of an extended apron area that can accommodate more aircrafts while a new executive lounge will also be constructed and new digital information systems will be added to both the departures and arrivals areas.
A new taxiway is also planned for completion in the first quarter of 2020 to meet the growing demand.
The development projects were visited by the Al Ula Coordination Council and the RCU CEO Amr Al Madani, the statement added.
Prince Badr said: “Expanding critical infrastructure, such as Al Ula’s Prince Abdulmajeed Bin Abdulaziz Airport, in a sensitive and sympathetic way, is a central part of encouraging a diverse and dynamic tourism experience for the county in line with Vision 2030, enabling easier access to enable us to showcase our treasures to the world.
“It will transform the airport facilities from a purely domestic airport to one that in the future has the infrastructure systems in place to welcome international flights. This investment will bring a significant boost to the community by better connecting its economy with the wider region, an important pillar of the RCU Charter.”
He added that structural improvements and renovations to be made to the Maraya Concert Hall, the venue for the Winter at Tantora season, will result in a larger, permanent facility, seating over 500 people.
The acoustics are also being upgraded to operatic performance quality and a 500-seat restaurant is being added, along with an art exhibition space and a new rooftop terrace feature.
Prince Badr said: “The Maraya Concert Hall has already proven its credentials as a world-class venue during the first Winter at Tantora season. The enhancements taking place this year will cement this reputation still further, truly establishing it as a dynamic venue of choice for leading artists and performers nestled amongst an extraordinary natural backdrop.”
The visit of the Al Ula Coordination Council also saw the start of a long-term initiative to plant 10,000 trees in Al Ula by the end of 2020.
Located 1,100km from Riyadh, Al Ula includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.
The most well-known and recognised site in Al Ula is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is comprised of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.
The RCU was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard Al Ula, and is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a new tourism and leisure destination in Saudi Arabia.