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COWI advises on award winning Madinah Airport privatization

Photo: The TIBAH consortium
The project is the first large finance transaction project in the Middle East and Africa region to be entirely structured on a Sharia compliant basis under a PPP scheme.
The first full airport public-private partnership (PPP) in Saudi Arabia, Madinah Airport, has been chosen as "Infrastructure deal of the year" in the Middle East and Africa, as well as awarded Best Transport Project 2013. COWI was lead technical advisor on the transaction.

The privatization of Madinah Airport was chosen as "the infrastructure deal of the year" in 2012 by Project Finance International (PFI), a leading Thomson Reuters publication. The award is a prestigious recognition from the international financial community, who considers the project a landmark in the Middle East in terms of size, importance and innovation.

In addition, the project was awarded Best Transport Project by the financial magazine, World Finance, whose readers have nominated the best PPP projects in 2013.

As sub consultant to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), COWI has been lead technical advisor on the PPP transaction, which aimed to help Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) attract a reliable investor to expand, modernize and operate Madinah airport.

Religious traffic

GACA's plans to revamp the airport arise from the increased demands for religious travel in the Hajj season, and also an increase in religious traffic during the year - the so called Umrah traffic.

The pilgrims travel from all over the world and are often inexperienced travelers, many of whom speak only one language - often not Arabic. A smooth processing of huge numbers of these passengers is a challenge for the design and operation of the airport.

With demand expected to double by 2020, GACA launched the ambitious plan to modernize and expand the airport with private sector participation under a long-term concession. This approach is part of GACA's overall strategy of reforming and modernizing Saudi Arabia's aviation industry.

Efficient team work with client
"We had a very intensive and smooth collaboration with GACA, who was closely involved in the evaluation process," says Karen Hanne Petersen, COWI's project manager during the technical evaluation process.

"We developed a technical evaluation model with more than 200 scoring categories, and the model was commonly agreed. The technical proposals were evaluated by the Saudi team and the COWI team separately using the evaluation model. Finally, both teams spent a full week together discussing the technical proposals and calibrating our scores in the evaluation model."

Hopefully the good results from the projects and not least the good relations to GACA can pave the way for COWI's involvement in Saudi Arabia's wider plan to increase airport capacity across the region.

By Helen Marie Bennett
Published 11.03.2013

About the project


The PPP consortium
TIBAH, a consortium of firms from Turkey and Saudi Arabia lead by TAV Airports, won the 25-year concession to develop and operate the entire airport. TIBAH will invest over $1.4 billion to build a new terminal, renovate and extend the existing runway and expand facilities to accommodate up to eight million passengers per annum (MPPA) by 2015, with additional investment to increase this capacity to 18 MPPA by the end of the concession. The modernized airport will employ best practices in energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly design. One of the technical requirements is that the terminal building will be LEED certified.



Madinah Airport

Prince Mohammad Bin Adbulaziz International Airport (also known as Prince Mohammad Airport and Madinah Airport) serves the city of Madinah in western Saudi Arabia. The airport handles both domestic and international service, mostly from other countries in the Middle East and other Islamic countries. Madinah is one of Islam's holiest cities and during the Hajj season Madinah Airport has not been able to adequately cater to the growing numbers of passengers due to inadequate infrastructure.


LAST UPDATED: 13.01.2017