Dammam Airport Mini Guide
Why Would I Visit Dammam?
As it’s in Saudi Arabia, there’s a good chance that it’s because you work in the oil sector. The country, and this part of it in particular, produces the largest volume of oil of any world region. The area’s second highest export commodity, a long way behind oil in value, is dates! The city of Dammam is trying to be tourist friendly and has constructed the list of must-haves that Arab states have signed up to including a corniche, very tall buildings, very tall strange monuments; in Dammam, it’s the world’s tallest flagpole, and a waterpark. Apart from that there is the unrelenting heat of the desert with its dunes, camels and oases.
How do I get to Dammam?
Dammam is home to the largest airport in the world in terms of area, the King Fahd International Airport. It’s close to the city of Dammam which has a metropolitan population of over two million. Access to the city from the airport is poor and hence most visitors come into the city from Bahrain along a much better road. Almost all flights there come from the Middle and Far East with a couple of flights from major European cities. BMI fly there from Heathrow
and are the only operator of flights from the UK
What’s the Airport Like?
Spectacular in its design and capacity but its poor location and appalling transport links have left it as a white elephant, currently accepting five million passengers but with a capacity for seven times that amount. As such, large parts of the airport are closed off with a corresponding reduction in facilities. It can almost seem like walking around a ghost town at times.
What can I Expect When I Arrive at King Fahd?
Opulence is one word for it. Acres of marble and thousands of watts of lighting greet you as you disembark along the air bridges. The airport is immense and although it’s a long walk to the different parts, once you’re there you won’t be looking through a sea of people to find the information desk. At the desk, the friendly staff will help you find your way around the airport. If you’re looking for the car hire companies, you’ll need to head for the services level of the airport although they all have desks in the arrivals hall.
There are banking facilities too in the arrivals hall and ATMs around the airport. Transport away from the airport is difficult without a hire car and even with a hire car, the roads, whilst recently improved, still disappear under drifting sand at times of the year. There is an airport shuttle bus but it, again, takes its chances against the desert.
What About Facilities Whilst I Wait for my Flight Home?
There used to be very limited facilities but with money being no object there you’ll now find quite a lot of restaurants and cafes, all very tasteful and serving delicious international food in very elegant surroundings. There are many shops too, divided up into open plan duty free facilities and a ‘bazaar’ style area selling gifts, local produce, books and magazines plus confectionery. There is also a mall of designer shops selling jewellery, clothing and accessories. The airport is equipped with Wi-Fi and has a prayer room plus facilities for entertaining children too.
King Fahd Airport is quite remote so to get anywhere you’ll have to hire a car. If you get a 4x4 then the options for your visit are much better.
The roads accessing the airports are poor anyway but in a 4x4 you’ll be able to go out into the desert and see the sights typical of this part of the world with huge sand dunes and the local nomadic Arabs herding their camels across the vast wastelands. Temperatures there can be extreme so take plenty of water with you and make sure you have a full tank of fuel.