Taj Mahals in the Desert

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1984, Vol. 54, Issue 11, Pg. 62-65

Document Type: Feature article


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has just opened two major international airports and is in the process of building a third. These are unusual projects in that designers and contractors were able to work without the usual constraints of budget and urbanized sites. The two operating airports are situated in the desert near major cities of Riyadh and Jeddah. The third airport, the Eastern Provinces Airport, will serve the new industrial city of Jubail. It is due to open in 1989. The three are probably the last airport megaprojects the world will see for some time. As such, the engineers, architects, and contractors who worked on them had some special opportunities and challenges. They were able to work for an owner with vast resources who wanted the very best. On the other hand, the planners and designers and contractors were all from more industrialized nations. They had to adjust for the distances in mobilizing equipment and materials, and also for cultural differences.

Subject Headings: Airports and airfields | Contractors and subcontractors | Urban areas | Arid lands | Industries | Budgets | Project management | Architects | Saudi Arabia | Middle East | Asia

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