US military bases in Saudi Arabia
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King Abdul Aziz Air Base Eastern Province, SAUDI ARABIA US Military Bases in Saudi Arabia
King Abdul Aziz Air Base is a Royal Saudi Air Force operated military installation. It is named in the memory of King Abdul Aziz, also referred to as Ibn Saud among the citizens. He lived between 1876 and 1953 and was the first monarch of the Saudi Arabia. He started ruling in 1932, after conquering the entire Arabian peninsula and claiming his territories as Saudi Arabia. King Abdul Aziz is also responsible with discovering the oil in the Arabian peninsula. In other words, he is the father of what the Arabians managed to build these days. Without the oil and the money coming from it, Saudi Arabia would be nothing but an arid land from the third world. These days, it hosts the ultimate constructions and luxury aspects you can think of.
King Abdul Aziz Air Base used to be known as the Dharan International Airport. A lot of natives still refer to it by this name, as it was changed in 1999 only. It used to be the most popular and populated airport in the Ash Sharqiyah area, from the Eastern side of the peninsula. In 1999, the authorities decided to build and open a new airport – King Fahd International Airport. It was larger, more advanced from all points of view and could deal with a lot more tasks. All the traffic was directed to this new airport, as the previous one was disestablished and turned into a military base by the Arabian government.
The Dharan International Airport dates back to the ’60s. It was built in 1961, with the plans coming from Minoru Yamasaki, one of the most skillful architects in the world. He was also responsible with the plans for the World Trade Center. The construction was extremely modernist, yet it included Islamic aspects as well. For instance, the control tower was shaped like a minaret. The fabulous buildings on site were pictures on Arabian money as well, not to mention about influencing a wide variety of important buildings throughout the Middle East.
The King Abdul Aziz Air Base location is very strategical. It is close to the Persian Gulf and about 500 km from Riyadh, relatively far from the capital. During World War II, the small base in the area was used as a pit stop for the aircrafts going to and back from Asia. At the same time, Operation Desert Storm could not be possible without this location, which took over 90% of the overall traffic during those times.
King Abdul Aziz Air Base provides its inhabitants with some of the most modernist facilities. Aside from a residential complex for the workers and units to live in with their families, the inhabitants benefit from large stores, supermarkets, popular restaurants and dining facilities, bars and pubs, theaters and cinema halls. At the same time, they can relax playing football, basketball or bowling. The young ones can kill their time hanging around in the wide variety of skate parks. In other words, King Abdul Aziz Air Base makes life normal, although it is located in the middle of nowhere and has a military purpose.
King Fahd Air Force Base in Dammam, SAUDI ARABIA US Military Bases in Saudi Arabia
King Fahd Air Base in an inactivated military airfield that currently serves for commercial and civilian flights. It holds the record for the largest and widest airport in the world, covering over 780 square km. It is located in the eastern part of the country, about 20 km away from Dammam. It is connected to the human communities around it through two major highways. The place is named in the memory of King Fahd, one of Ibn Saud’s 45 sons. Ibn Saud is the first monarch of Saudi Arabia, after he managed to conquer and unify all the territories from the peninsula. He is the fourth of Ibn Saud’s sons who ruled the country, from 1982 until his death, in 2005. He died because of a powerful pneumonia and high fever and was buried at the Al Oud cemetery, close to other members of the royal family.
The current airport used to be a popular air base in the ’90s. The general infrastructure was built in 1990. The rest of it was finished by 1999. However, it was excellent for the conflicts in the surrounding areas, such as the Gulf War from 1991. It served as a pit stop and a storage site for the allied forces. King Fahd’s decision to allow the allied forces and especially the Americans to step on the Arabian lands was highly criticized by the citizens, as well as other countries. Osama bin Laden used to talk about this happening in his recorded footage as well.
The full construction of the airport was done in 1999. At that time, it was opened to civilian flights first. Months later, commercial planes were allowed to land too. It gained a huge popularity after being opened, therefore all the traffic from the Dhahran International Airport was directed here. This one was larger, built with a new technology and modernism, not to mention about the multitude of tasks it could fulfill.
Well known as a large military base, King Fahd Air Base soon became a civilian place. At the same time, it switched positions with the Dhahran International Airport, which was turned into a military base. With all these, there are still plenty of troops deployed at the base, but they are in a standby position. They just train in the current camps and prepare for any upcoming conflicts.
Unfortunately for the local authorities, King Fahd Air Base has a pretty bad reputation in the area. People used to rely on this airport due to the bad roads and the harsh possibility to reach the closest international airport from Bahrain. Since the roads were significantly improved, the amount of passengers dropped with a proportional rate. People complain about the long waiting time, the excessive controls and the problematic behavior of some employees. For this reason, many companies choose to transport their passengers to the Bahrain airport and then provide them with a free transportation to Dammam by road. Hopefully, things will improve in the upcoming years, at least for the huge possibilities of this place.
King Khalid Air Base in Khamis Mushayt, SAUDI ARABIA US Military Bases in Saudi Arabia
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.