The mixed-use district that will be built adjacent to Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International airport is expected to be completed in late 2021.

The development will occupy a land are equivalent to almost 1.18 million square metres, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) tells MEED.

The contract to develop the land was awarded on 7 August to local Fawaz Abdulaziz al-Hokair Company.

An estimated 57 per cent of the allocated land (678,320 square metres) will be used for administrative buildings and commercial complexes that include two hotels. The rest will be allocated for Al-Nouzha Park, which will comprise retail outlets, coffee shops, pedestrian zones and a museum as well as green spaces (30 per cent).

The land for the planned airport district has been handed over to the contractor. A future airport free zone is also planned adjacent Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport.

The free zones, Gaca said earlier this year, aim to attract foreign business through a more relaxed policy in terms of trade licences and visa and taxation regime. The free zones are expected to be large enough to include manufacturing facilities.

The development of an aetropolis – a mega district that typically includes residences, business parks, logistics and leisure centres anchored around airports – has been becoming popular in recent years.

Dubai South is an example of a developing aetropolis in the Mena region.

Oman has also recently announced preliminary plans to develop real-estate projects in locations within the proximity of its international airports.

Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), which operates Muscat and Salalah International airports, has indicated it is open to all funding options for the airport cities it plans to develop.

The Jeddah airport is the busiest airport in Saudi Arabia and is the main gateway for hajj and umrah pilgrims visiting Mecca.

It processed more than 30 million passengers, equivalent to more than a third (36 per cent), of the kingdom’s overall passenger traffic in 2015. The airport has been undergoing redevelopment to expand capacity. The Saudi Binladin Group picked up two contracts worth a combined $7.2bn in 2010 for the overhaul of the existing terminal and the construction of a new one. The new terminal, which has a design capacity of 30 million passengers annually, is scheduled for completion next year. The North and South terminals currently has a capacity to handle 13 million passengers annually while the hajj terminal can handle up to 8 million.