Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz inaugurated on Tuesday Jeddah airport’s new terminal, part of a push to increase foreign visitors to the kingdom and diversify its oil-based economy.
Jeddah is the main airport where pilgrims arrive before travelling on to the holy city of Makkah to perform the Hajj pilgrimage and the Umrah.
The inauguration of the new Terminal 1 of King Abdulaziz International Airport brings the airport to 810,000 square meters with the capacity to handle 30 million passengers annually, state news agency SPA said.
The airport operates flights to three international destinations and 21 domestic ones.
Pilgrims comprise the bulk of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million annual foreign visitors, apart from workers and business travelers.
Officials aim to increase the number of Umrah and Hajj pilgrims to 15 million and 5 million respectively by 2020, and hope to double the umrah number again to 30 million by 2030.
The government has approved plans to issue electronic visas for foreign visitors to attend sporting events and concerts, and is expected to announce details this month.