Project excellence at Saudi Arabia's King Khaled airport

03 July 2017

Tell your story: Now is the time to shout about your company’s contribution to the GCC’s unprecedented growth. Details on entering MEED’s new awards programme can be found below

Marking the launch of the MEED Awards, the MEED team would like to welcome you to a new series of features highlighting examples of best practice and business excellence among the companies that have driven the GCC’s unprecedented economic growth.

Whether your business is a project company or a stakeholder, supplying or buying, innovating or renewing, whether you are a leader, a driver or an inspirer, if you or your business is forging ahead and making a difference, we want to hear about it – and tell your story.

Should you go on to enter the MEED Awards, you will join a prestigious line-up of companies and individuals that have shown exemplary business practices and together have helped make the GCC one of the most exciting markets on earth.

King Khaled International airport

First up in our new series is a case study on the design and build of Terminal 5 and related facilities at Riyadh’s King Khaled International airport – a vitally important project in terms of progressing Saudi Arabia’s plans to develop its aviation sector.

Collaborating with the local Al-Arrab Contracting, Turkey’s TAV worked to overcome challenges and ensure the project was completed on time, with an excellent safety record and quality craftsmanship.

Busiest airport

King Khaled International airport (KKIA) serves as the gateway to Saudi Arabia’s largest city. In 2016, it handled 23.4 million passengers, cementing its status as the kingdom’s busiest airport.

Domestic passenger numbers grew to 12 million last year due to strong demand for additional air travel within Saudi Arabia. Terminal 5 – the flagship project of a significant investment by KKIA – is designed to take a proportion of this traffic. With an annual capacity of 14 million passengers, the 106,000-square-metre terminal will cater exclusively to domestic flights for four years, after which it will serve international flights without further construction.

The MEED Awards: How to enter

Whether you are a contractor, consultant, supplier, service provider or client, whether you are a leader, a driver or an inspirer, if you or your business is forging ahead and making a difference, we want to hear about it – and tell your story. Click here to find out more about the MEED Awards.

The judges of the MEED Awards will look at how each firm has contributed to the GCC’s success through its business achievements, environmental sustainability programmes, workforce culture, innovative practices and client service. In parallel, we will be recognising individual achievements among the leadership of these companies and stakeholders.

Register here to create your account and choose which award category or categories you would like to enter (discounts apply to multiple submissions).

The deadline for entries is 5 August 2017, with an awards ceremony to follow on 29 November.

Joint venture

In partnership with Al-Arrab Contracting, TAV built the passenger terminal, a 122,000-sq-m multi-storey car park to accommodate 2,404 vehicles, an operations centre, a fire station, a supply building and a plane apron, in addition to airside infrastructure and links to the existing terminals.

The design of Terminal 5 comprises a rectangular processor building, guided by the hexagonal roof form and triangular organisation of the original buildings, but with its own distinct and contemporary identity. A linear pier structure with flexible contact gates provides a modular, expandable framework; seven large-wing aircraft or 16 medium-size aircraft can be accommodated.

International teamwork

The biggest challenge was working concurrently with the operational airport taxiways, highway and ongoing metro construction within the project’s perimeter. At the same time, airport materials of a high standard had to be procured.

Dedicated, Riyadh-based procurement, project management and logistics teams undertook all the studies, which were performed through an online web-based system in order to decrease time loss. At the end, 95 per cent of this work was handled offshore in the UK, Dubai, the Netherlands, Spain and the UAE by well-known companies.

Construction quality

Materials and finishes were selected to achieve both the desired cooling effect and to create a calm and peaceful interior, embellished by features evocative of Saudi art forms and architecture. The design of the terminal enables passengers to enjoy its grand scale and keep a clear sense of orientation while moving around.

The project owner was very satisfied with the quality of the materials used in the terminal and ancillary buildings. High-standard materials, including locally sourced granite, meant the maintenance period and cost was less than the client expected.

The use of new technologies ensured the project was completed on time, with special attention paid to passenger comfort, operational efficiency, integration with existing facilities and expansion potential. Local climatic factors were also carefully considered, with solar shading installed to reduce energy consumption.

Safety culture

At its peak, 5,171 people from more than 25 different countries worked on the project. To house all the staff, a camp was built with modern facilities, including air conditioning, recreation halls, bathroom facilities, a laundry building and gaming areas. The accommodation units were cleaned on a daily basis by professional subcontractors. An ambulance and fire truck remained on site 24/7, and a medical clinic was staffed round-the-clock. The biggest four hospitals in Riyadh were engaged for any medical treatment or emergency cases.

During a total of 22,045,715 working man-hours, there were zero fatalities. Training sessions were held in special training rooms, covering all kinds of airport construction works and 1,189 toolbox topics.

To request to be featured editorially in this online series, please contact Marianne Makdisi on

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