How The World's Largest Airport Played An Unexpectedly Crucial Role In The Gulf War

Given the popularity and general busy nature of air travel, many airports today will be of enormous size, housing numerous planes and airline facilities. But as some people might have already experienced, bigger isn't always better. As The Wall Street Journal explains, very large, very busy airports like Los Angeles International Airport, have considerable amounts of congestion, making passenger experiences somewhat of a pain for navigation. Some places such as Long Beach and Burbank, Orange County seek smaller alternatives to the larger standard fare of airports. 

While there might be considerable detriments to building larger and larger airports, that hasn't stopped their construction. In fact, the largest airport in the world is Saudi Arabia's King Fahd International Airport. As Construction Review Online says, this airport stretches over 776 square kilometers of land, and is located in Dammam City. What's even more interesting, however, is how it had a crucial role in the Gulf War. 

A brief summary of King Fahd International Airport's construction

Planning for the King Fahd International Airport first started in the year 1976. As The Saudi explains, there was careful consideration taken into account when choosing both the location and design of the airport. The designer team, led by a collaboration between architect Minoru Yamasaki and Associates and Boeing Aerosystems International, had pored over numerous potential sites for construction, eventually landing on the current modern-day spot 19 miles away from Dammam. 

As Construction Review Online says, the airport sports two 4-kilometer-long runways interspersed with taxiways. There is also a very large rental parking complex capable of storing 4,930 vehicles, along with three terminals, two of which are the Royal Terminal and Aramco Terminal. Included within the design is also a mosque that can accommodate 2,000 people, making the airport a place for Islamic worship as well — an important feature for a religious country like Saudi Arabia.  

The King Fahd International Airport was instrumental in the Gulf War

One little-known fact about the world's largest airport is that it was a fairly important facility during the Gulf War. As Britannica explains, the Gulf War was one of the shorter major conflicts in the 1990s, taking place from the year 1990 to 1991. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait as led by Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq at the time, was the primary catalyst for the conflict. The motivations behind this invasion were to capture oil reserves, dissolve debt, and expand power. 

According to We Are the Mighty, the King Fahd International Airport was used to house numerous aircraft for the U.S military during the conflict. Aircraft such as AH-64 Apaches, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, CH-47 Chinooks, UH-60 Black Hawks, and more were kept there for additional air support. The Gulf War was actually a major contributing factor in why King Fahd's size is so enormous, as the extra space was needed for military operations.