The first phase of construction of Saudi Arabia’s new King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) is expected to be completed by the middle of 2016.

Close to 25,000 engineers and workers from 110 companies are currently working on the project, which is nearly 60% complete, reported the Saudi Gazette.

Once the first phase is completed, the estimated SR27bn ($7.1bn) airport will be able to handle 30 million passengers annually.

The airport will be building a 700,000m² terminal complex under the first phase, which will allow all airlines to operate in a single building.

Spread across an area of 670,000m², the building will house both the international and domestic terminals.

The departure lounge at the new terminal will have 200 check-in counters along with 80 self-service counters, 46 departure gates and waiting lounges, a hotel and a modern shopping area.

The airport is being built to serve as a gateway to the holy places of Makkah and Madinah.

According to the master plan developed by the Netherlands Airports Consultants, the airport will be constructed in three phases and is expected to be completed by 2035.

Once completed, the airport will have a capacity to accommodate between 70 to 80 million passengers annually.

Under the master plan, the airport will also have the world’s tallest air traffic control tower along with a 7km service tunnel to connect its three power plants and three information centres.