RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is considering building an airport in Riyadh, to serve as a base for a new airline the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund is looking to launch as it targets a vast increase in tourist arrivals, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
The $430 billion fund said earlier this year it plans to invest in aviation to help capture the tourist boom envisioned by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The new airline, reported locally earlier this year, would serve tourists and business travelers, while Saudi national carrier would focus on religious tourism from its base in Jeddah, said the people, asking not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is exploring the idea of investing billions in a new international airport in Riyadh, the people said. The size of the facility and timeline for its construction haven’t been set and the PIF could decide not to move ahead with those plans, they said.
Declining to comment on the plans for a new airport in Riyadh, a spokesman for the fund referred to earlier commitments to invest in the sector and to study establishing a new company to “support the aviation sector aspirations locally and regionally.”
The project would further Saudi Arabia’s goal to attract 100 million tourists a year by 2030, a sixfold increase from 2019. The project is still in early stages of development.
This project is in line with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s strategy to diversify the economy away from a reliance on oil sales, by opening up the country to visitors.