King Khalid Air Base – also referred to as the King Khalid International Airport – is one of the closest airports to the Arabian capital Riyadh. It was designed and built by HOK, an architectural company that holds the credits for buildings like the Tokyo Telecom Center or the Kellogg Headquarters from Michigan. The airport facilities include two 4.2 km long runways, a control tower, a mosque for the religious people and a few terminals. It was initially built to deal and support the traffic requirements in the area and never for military purposes. At the same time, this airport was the second landing alternative for Space Shuttle, a rocket designed by NASA. NASA took this decision judging by the unusually long runways. The place is named in the memory of King Khalid, who run the Saudi Arabia from 1975 until his death in 1982. He ruled the country during the great oily expansion, representing the starting period for what you can see today in the country.
King Khalid Air Base was run by the allied forces during the Gulf War for a small period of time, from 1990 to 1991. It used to be one of the most important pit stops in the area. The base was also hosting the 1703-rd Air Refueling Wing. At the same time, the allied forces run a hospital in the area. A British volunteering unit was also hosted on site. The place was excellent for its proximity to the Arabian capital Riyadh. Aside from these two years, the base was continuously used by the Arabian forces and mostly for civilian and commercial flights. It hosts four terminals, but only three of them are functional. The fourth one has never been used. King Khalid Air Base currently holds contracts with over 40 flying companies.
When it comes to major accidents, only three were recorded and just one of them was fatal. It occurred in the summer of 1980, when an aircraft was entirely destroyed by fire and all the people inside were killed. The other two accidents didn’t cause any deaths.
Everyone knows the importance of religion in the Arabian world. Therefore, King Khalid Air Base includes an impressive mosque that can accommodate over 5000 worshipers, not to mention about 5000 more in the surrounding market. It is placed in the middle of the airport and represents the first thing people see whenever they leave. Close to the mosque, there is a 39 m high minaret with loudspeakers to broadcast the daily prayers.
King Khalid Air Base includes more than 500000 square meters of landscaping. You can admire vines, trees and a wide variety of plants. The most common problem is the impossibility to water all of them, so the constructors relied on heat and dry soil resistant plants.
There are five different firehouses, with equipped vehicles and professional firemen. There is also a local security force dealing with the protection. The parking facilities have been taken in consideration as well. Two huge garages with three floors each are “posted” right in front of the terminals.