Pictured: The incredible new ‘optical-illusion’ luxury airport designed to look like a desert mirage

  • The airport will serve the luxury Amaala resort, which is located on Saudi Arabia’s north-west Red Sea coast
  • It has been designed by UK-based Foster + Partners, which says it will be ‘akin to a private members club’
  • The terminal will have a ‘spacious courtyard’ as well as contemporary interiors complete with ‘unique art’  

Is it a mirage? No, it’s a new international airport.

Renderings have been released for a stunning new ‘luxury’ airport in Saudi Arabia that has been designed to look like an optical illusion – a mirage in the desert.

The stunning design has been created by UK-based Foster + Partners, which says the building will be ‘akin to a private members club’.

A rendering of the stunning new ‘luxury’ airport in Saudi Arabia that has been designed to look like a desert mirage

The airport will serve the luxury Amaala resort on Saudi Arabia’s north-west coast with the Red Sea.

According to the resort, on approaching the airport, travellers will see ‘stunning land art from the air’ and upon entering the terminal will be ‘greeted with a sleek mirrored edifice rising from the desert’.

The Amaala resort said: ‘The structure takes its inspiration from the surrounding environment, resulting in a mesmerising mirage effect.

‘A spacious courtyard will anchor the terminal and will be complemented by contemporary interiors complete with unique artwork and tailored experiences.’

Among the list of amenities provided will be climate-controlled hangars that will be available for private jets as well as a ground transfer service that will be accessible from inside the arrival hangar.

The resort added: ‘The airport will reflect Amaala’s ultra-luxury hospitality spirit, providing an exclusive private-club experience perfectly encapsulating Amaala’s pillars of art and culture, wellness and sport, and sea, sun, and lifestyle.

The airport’s master plan was designed by Egis, an international consultancy and engineering group, and ‘incorporates unique design practices, drawing inspiration from its location’.

The airport is due for completion in 2023 and is estimated to accommodate one million travellers per year once it officially opens.

A rendering of the terminal’s interior. UK-based architecture firm Foster + Partners, which is behind the design, says the building will be ‘akin to a private members club’

The Amaala resort is set in 1,604 square miles (4,155 square kilometres) of the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Natural Reserve.

Described as a ‘year-round destination’, when finished it will include 2,500 hotel rooms, more than 800 residential villas, apartments and estate homes as well as 200 ‘high-end’ retail establishments, fine dining, wellness and recreational facilities.

Chief executive officer of Amaala, Nicholas Naples, said: ‘A gateway to Amaala, visitors will be greeted by personalised experiences from the moment they step off the plane. From design to personalisation, this will be no ordinary airport.

‘Immersed in the spirit of Amaala, the airport will create an environment that embodies the philosophy of the destination beyond.

‘This will be a unique space that personifies luxury and marks the start of memorable experiences for the world’s most discerning guests. We are delighted to work with Foster + Partners and Egis on this project.’

Gerard Evenden, senior executive partner at Foster + Partners, said: ‘Responding to the surrounding landscape, the terminal building will form an exclusive gateway to the Amaala resort.

Airport amenities will include climate-controlled hangars, which will be available for private jets

‘The passenger experience through the entire building will be akin to a private members club – luxurious and relaxing.

‘Focusing on the themes of art, wellbeing and sport, the design seeks to establish a new model for private terminals that provides a seamless experience from resort to aeroplane.’

Jacques Khoriaty, Middle East and South Asia aviation director at Egis, added: ‘Along with embodying the luxurious spirit of the resort, the Amaala airport meets the highest environmental design and sustainability standards, is operationally versatile and incorporates the latest airport technology and best practice standards on offer.

A rendering of the marina and yacht club at the Amaala resort, which is in the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Natural Reserve

‘It has been a privilege to have worked closely with Amaala to define the requirements of this unique project and we look forward continuing our support all the way through to the opening of the airport in 2023.’

Last September, Saudi Arabia introduced tourist visas for visitors from 49 countries, including the UK and the United States. Previously, visitor visas were only issued for religious pilgrimage or business.

In the first two months of the new visas being available the country attracted 50,000 visitors.

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