Jeddah, Saudi Arabia | January, 2008 - Close proximity to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina has made the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah the gateway to Saudi Arabia for the two million pilgrims who descend each year from across the Muslim world for the annual pilgrimage or Hajj.

The six-week period rigorously tests all of the airport's announcement and safety facilities. At 465,000 sq m in size, the Hajj Terminal is the world's second largest air terminal after Hong Kong International Airport's terminal.

Made distinctive by its tentshaped white Teflon membrane roof, it accommodates up to 80,000 travellers at a time and serves 21 million passengers a year.

Geiger Berger Associates, Schlaich, Bergermann und Partner, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill were appointed as structural engineers for the project, with Hochtief AG the general contractor. Complicating matters is the fact that the terminal acts as a single incoming terminal for the first three weeks of the Hajj, and as a departure terminal for the latter three weeks, in contrast to its two-way operation at other times.

Consequently, all gates, routes, signage and logistics are reversed at the halfway-point of the festival. Prerecorded announcements are made in Arabic in addition to Urdu, Bahasa Indonesia, French and English by an automatic announcement system from Sittig Industrial Electronics/Germany.

The high ambient noise levels generated by so many passengers demanded a sound system capable of clearly and reliably delivering messages and announcements. The airport authorities were introduced to the Renkus-Heinz Iconyx column speakers on the Citytec Mediatronics-ME booth at an Airport Trade Show in Dubai.

Norbert Bau, general manager for the Dubai-based distribution company, recalls meeting the airport delegation for the first time: 'We were demonstrating Klotz networking products and decided at the last minute to showcase a Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC24 so that we could conduct voice announcements in Arabic on our booth."

He adds: "It was a 'eureka' moment – the contingent from BT Applied Technologies realised it had found the solution to its paging network problem."

Citytec Mediatronics - ME won the contract to design, supply and commission the voice announcement system, one third of which was completed before the 2007 Hajj, with Phase Two to follow shortly afterwards. Audio distribution is via a Klotz Digital.

Vadis triple eight framework, a real-time system that can simultaneously play eight different announcements to an unlimited number of zones.

A combination of nine ICONYX IC16 and IC24 arrays is installed in the main terminal hall, where long reverberation times predominate, achieving a remarkable STI (speech transmission index) of 0.7 – unique among Middle East airports.

The on-site mosque also employs two ICONYX ICl6/8 arrays to deliver clear speech to worshippers.

And as the terminal was designed from the outset to accommodate the Airbus A380, the audio system can be directly connection to the airport's ADS (flight information display system) with the ability to recognize the layout of each aircraft by flight number, playing the relevant boarding message for both levels of the aircraft simultaneously.