The distance between Mecca and Jeddah is so short that if each city had developed towards the other they would have overlapped long ago. Jeddah was expanding in this direction – eastwards – before the arrival of Mayor Mohamed Said Farsi who felt that Jeddah was turning its back on the sea. As a result, he changed the course of Jeddah’s development northwards to be closer to the sea, and the city expanded in this direction for tens of kilometres. However I do not think the Mayor’s desire was completely realized as construction in this direction remains ongoing; therefore perhaps it would have been better for Jeddah if he had allowed the city to follow its natural inclination with regards to development in the direction of Mecca.
This introduction is to preface the idea of building an airport in the holy city of Mecca. This is not a new idea, and people have been discussing this for quite a while. Some people believe that it is important for Mecca to have an airport, while others believe that Jeddah’s proximity to Mecca makes such a step unnecessary. Last Sunday however, the Saudi Shura Council agreed to study the idea of building an airport in Mecca beyond the boundaries of the Grand Mosque to facilitate visits to the city throughout the year.
If this study confirms that there is a need to build such an airport, and that it is possible to construct this in western Mecca, then – in my opinion – this will be the perfect opportunity to dispense of the current Jeddah airport that has entered a critical stage and is no longer capable of performing the duties that befit an airport of this calibre. I do not want to elaborate on the current state of Jeddah airport, which is no longer a secret to anyone but I believe it would be better for the money that would be spent towards restoring and upgrading Jeddah airport to be spent on building a new airport in Mecca that could serve both cities. This airport would be built according to the highest international standard and be named after the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Abulaziz al Saud, may God rest his soul. The airport would serve both cities, and reflect the remarkable development and progress achieved by the country. Having one advanced and world class airport in the city of Mecca is far better than two airports that do not live up to our expectations at a time when airports represent their countries.
I sincerely hope that the Shura Council really does approve an investigation into the desire of building this airport that would gain importance and status due to its location in the holy city of Mecca.