King Abdulaziz International Airport is the main aerial gateway for Islamic pilgrims going on Hajj to Mecca. It has a specific Hajj Terminal that’s capable of processing 80,000 passengers at the same time, along with a South and North terminal for passengers visiting the city of Jeddah, which lies 19 kilometres away.
There are iconic features to the Hajj Terminal, with its towering fabric roofs that resemble traditional Bedouin tents. Almost all of these are open-sided, providing natural ventilation and helping create the impression of a large Islamic village, one that’s complete with a market and mosque. After passing through customs and baggage, this huge area gives passengers a place to pray and perform Hajj-related rituals before moving on to Mecca. Saudi Airlines Flynas and Saudia operate out of the South Terminal to destinations across Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. International airlines use the North Terminal.
King Abdulaziz International Airport is 65 kilometres away from Mecca, and dedicated buses leave from outside the terminal to the pilgrimage site. These run throughout the day and night. Taxis and buses can be found outside the North and South Terminals for journeys into Jeddah, which take less than 30 minutes. The three terminals are connected by walkways, and all Hajj passengers are shuttled towards the relevant terminal.
This is one of the world’s largest airports by area, an indication of the spaciousness of the award-winning Hajj Terminal. It won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983.