Foster + Partners to design airport for Saudi Red Sea tourism mega scheme

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind Saudi Arabia’s ambitious coastal tourism project, has awarded the design contract for the destination’s international airport to Foster + Partners after competitive tendering. Subconsultant is WSP Global.

By 2030, the airport is expected to handle a million visitors a year to the Red Sea Project, which will be developed over 28,000 sq km of mountainous desert on Saudi Arabia’s west coast, including an archipelago of more than 90 islands.

Intended to "position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map", the scheme’s first phase is due in 2022, and will include up to 14 hotels offering 3,000 rooms on five islands and two inland sites, as well as commercial, retail and leisure facilities.

The award comes a year after Foster + Partners’ founder and chairman Norman Foster suspended his membership of a board advising the Saudi government on another vast development in the country, the futuristic business city called "Neom", over the murder of Saudi dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. 

A columnist for the Washington Post, Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.

Last month Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman called the murder "a heinous crime" committed by individuals working for the Saudi government, but denied personally ordering the assassination. 

In a statement to GCR, Foster + Partners said: "On behalf of his many partners and colleagues Lord Foster is delighted for the practice of Foster + Partners to have been chosen for the Red Sea Airport which complements our other significant projects in Saudi Arabia. Independent from the practice Lord Foster also serves in other personal capacities, one of which was as a member of the Advisory Board of Neom, prior to his suspending that role".

"Awarding the contract for the design of our airport is an important milestone and the first of the underlying infrastructure projects of the destination," said John Pagano, TRSDC chief executive. 

"Fosters + Partners and their engineering subconsultant, WSP Global, have demonstrated their ability to deliver projects in line with world-class development and our sustainability standards."

TRSDC said the airport would have a sustainable design and be informed by the surrounding landscapes.

Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners said: "The Red Sea Airport has been envisaged as a gateway to one of the most unique resorts in the world and an integral part of the visitor experience. Inspired by the colours and textures of the desert landscape, the design seeks to create a calm and luxurious journey through the terminal and will become a transit hub for visitors coming in by both land and air. We look forward to working with the Red Sea Development Company to fulfil the vision for this ambitious one-of-a-kind project."

Upon completion in 2030, the destination will deliver up to 8,000 hotel rooms across 22 islands and six inland sites, TRSDC said.

Image courtesy of the Red Sea Development Company

  • Updated 4 November to include Foster + Partners’ response

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