Date: October 17, 2015
Sitting alongside some of the world’s most dazzling terminals are these five airports, voted to be the worst in the Middle East. Survey respondents complain about the disorganization, crowdedness, and uncleanliness of these five airports – with particular emphasis on long queues managed by inefficient-verging-on-hostile staff. Definitely un-sleepable and preferably un-visitable, these terminals lack comfort, convenience and overall cleanliness, which we often appreciate while travelling. If you happen to get stuck with a long layover or early departure in one of these five cities, voters recommend minimizing your time here at all costs. And, for those few inevitable hours that you will spend in the terminals – likely waiting in customs lines – patience will help make your time here a little more bearable.
These are the Top 5 Worst Airports in the Middle East based on overall airport experience as determined by voters in our 2015 Airport Survey:
1. Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport, Saudi Arabia (JED)
Jeddah’s International Airport elicited fervent responses from voters who were annoyed by the chaotic, crowded, unclean airport, particularly within the Hajj terminal. From smoking in non-smoking areas to the bathroom odour wafting out into the lounges, few people sang praises after spending time here. Multi-hour immigration queues with distracted and absent officers further aggravated travellers. All in all, JED is decidedly un-sleepable and arguably un-visitable. A number of voters suggested booking layovers elsewhere – at all costs. Travellers can however take heart – the new Jeddah Airport is said to be 85% complete and scheduled to open mid-2016. Hardly soon enough by the sounds of it! Most travellers familiar with the current JED just hope that the new airport comes with new staff and customs/immigration officers.
2. Sana’a International Airport, Yemen (SAH)
Given that Sana’a, Yemen has been engulfed in war since March, 2015, an intensive review of this airport’s shortcomings would be in poor taste. 80% of the nation’s population is on the verge of famine, and experts suspect conflict will worsen before it improves. Undoubtedly, the airport is in dire condition and we hope it will improve over years to come.
3. Riyadh King Khalid International Airport, Saudi Arabia (RUH)
A definitive low point experienced by multiple voters traveling out of Riyadh was missing or nearly missing their flight because their gate was not displayed on the notice boards. Though we hope this experience is an outlier, the more general airport experience is hardly enviable. Voters consistently remark on extremely long queues, poor customer service, a subpar VIP lounge, unclean bathrooms and virtually no shopping or restaurant options. One voter does recommend visiting the smokers’ level, where you can find a semblance of quiet and larger couches – in exchange for a stale smoky smell. Apparently, it’s worth it for smokers and non-smokers alike.
4. Sharjah International Airport, United Arab Emirates (SHJ)
Some voters arrived at Sharjah International with every intension of sleeping over. However, one quick glance at the state of the terminal sent them scampering away on the city bus to Rolla Square, where they happily found a lagoon, boulevards and reasonably priced accommodation. The terminals themselves were sais to be cold and without carpeting, Wi-Fi or snacks. Business lounges offer temporary reprieve for a steep price, and otherwise passengers must wait airside until just before their flight. All in all, travellers would be wise to minimize the time spent in and around SHJ.
5. Dammam King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia (DMM)
Dammam’s long immigration lines and overall disorganization scores Saudi Arabia it’s third airport on the worst of the Middle East list. Comments for DMM were hardly as inspired as those given to its Saudi Arabian sister in Jeddah, but travellers were all the while unimpressed by the state of the bathrooms and the lack of helpful signage. However, the free and unlimited Wi-Fi and the luggage storage most definitely help the terminal save face, given that these are services even the region’s top ranking airports fail to provide!
Continue on to read about the Best Airports in the Middle East.