Jeddah Airport
6 km of seating ements


It was some time in the higher 70th. As I received a Fax from SOM a well known architecture firm in New York. The fax mentioned as reason, the Haj terminal at Jeddah airport, the biggest roof on earth, made of Teflon coated fiberglass. The architects mentioned further the seatings under that roof, 6 km of seating should be made of fiberglass and they needed me as an expert in airport furniture made from fiberglass. I was already informed, that there is such a big project in progress, but I did not know about the seating. I booked the next possible flight to New York. As time is gaining instead of loosing on the way to New York, I could have the first meeting immediately after arrival. But this was to show up and tell, that I have arrived. The next day was the organized meeting with many of the high class architects. Nobody brought up an idea, only the requirements where mentioned. I have listened very careful, what was required and left New York two days later without having left any idea. In the plain, on the way home I got the idea

I thought, it could be nice to have big round seating areas because pilgrims coming mostly in groups from one place and with one airplane. It could be good to assemble and immediately get familiar with that place. Pilgrims sometime have to wait for hours to get picked up, by busses or on their return, when they have to wait for their airplane to come. Therefore the requirement called for comfortable use of that seating for such happenings. Also pilgrims bring their food with, from their home country and will prepare the food on the floor or at their seating. It should be easy to clean and be durable for long times.

For small trash, I designed a cast iron trash pot with a nice grill from cast brass on top, to be inserted into the armrest elements. Later we saw that pilgrims did charcoal into the cast iron pot and cooked tee on it or used it to hold water warm for many purposes.

When I came home I made drawings and our patternmaker was involved and made some small size models in design and shape. Two weeks after I was in New York, I have send a big box with all drawings, models specifications and price offer to SOM in New York. Time went over and over I never heart anything from SOM or any one else. In the chapter Saudia ticket offices I mentioned already from Saudi competition, I believed they have not chosen my design and did something else with somebody else.

Since the competition problem I was not any more so often as earlier in Jeddah. In Jeddah was an opening of a temporary Terminal at the old airport in town, This I wanted see because we had delivered about 150 counters for this project, and the airport management made a small fair, like it was arranged 1972 in Frankfurt. I walked through this fair and I saw our competitor and its products presented at this fair. I talked to the fair booth attendees because the owner was not present, and I got made an appointment with the owner Talal al Shair. It was the son of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Lebanon. We met at his office and I introduced myself as the owner and designer of the intellectual property of Saudias counters and ticket office design. As well as the editor of the Manual I had made for Saudia. I saw this manual at his desk. Our discussion started very formal, but soon it changed to a more friendly way and Talal promised that we will come along with this problem friendly and he promised to compensate for the use of my design. He invited me to make use of his office, and using telephone, fax machine and for comfortable home when I am in Jeddah.

We have seen each other quite often on my visit in Jeddah and it began to develop some friendship an it was so that we saw each other almost every second day. One time when I was sitting again in his office on the visitor side of his desk, the telephone was ringing, he took the receiver and was listening very carefully, I heard some answers from him like, "yes your highness," "will try my best your highness" "seatings, haj terminal" and " OK we will come up soon with an idea" Many of this words sound familiar to me and when the talk was over he shaked one hand and said "oh mama mia" a big problem. He mentioned it was Prince Saud the minister of defence on the phone and told him that the architects have forgotten to order the seatings for the haj terminal and now they have no design, no idea and from where they could get 9000 seats in a very short time.

I told Talal that I was involved in this seating program, and have made drawings models and calculations almost two years ago to the architects SOM in New York and have never heard about. I told Talal that I have more models at home and also the drawings and the calculation. How do we get this fast to Jeddah. I told him I can call home and my wife can pack everything and air freight this with the next possible flight, he said Ok gave me his telephone receiver and he dialed our No. I mentioned the urgency to my wife, she understood everything and next day with Lufthansa we got a suitcase of all
what I had ordered.

Next day we received an appointment with Gen. Amin, he was in charge directly for that problem, the Saudi representative of the architect, and some others direct at the site office at Jeddah airport. I opened my suitcase and put first the models an the table, than the drawings and my calculation. That`s it, thatŐs it, spoke everyone over the table, why it was not placed to order, mentioned Gen. Amin. The architects shaked their heads and nobody had anything more to say. Gen. Amin asked Talal, can you make 6 km seating in the next 6 month. Talal looked to me and I said yes to Talal and he said yes to Gen. Amin. Ok lets start, this was the only more sentence about seating and Gen. Amin said. Next subject. Here again was the same problem, they needed 500 baggage carts for the pilgrims baggageŐs and food, because they feed themselves and bring rice and other stuff from their home countries and prepare their meals under way. Also for this baggage carts there was no idea, no design, nothing prepared. While the architects described what they had in mind, I had a peace of paper in front of me and scribbled, what I got in mind. One was asking me what I am doing, and I showed my scribble to them. Again all of them said: that`s it, and Gen. Amin ask what does it cost, I was still for 1 minute, than I mentioned: about 2.500 and he ask Deutsch Mark or Dollars, I said Dollars of couse and he shaked hand with me and placed this order right away.

With Talal in his office, I calculated, that we need 28 Molds to manufacture the Volume of the order within the given time. The system of seating where composed of 4 different Elements. A 125 cm straight seating element. A 250 cm curved seating element. A full round End element. And a Table element.
All Armrests, with the cast iron waste units where planned to be delivered from us out of Germany. All Molds 4x7 equal Molds had also been made here in Germany and shipped to Yanbu Saudi Arabia. The cost for all this procedures where negligible, so I took part of this cost as compensation for the copy action Talal was promising to do. All Molds where delivered on time and manufacturing could start on time in Saudi Arabia. This was my first technology transfer to a foreign company.

Here it can be seen, how the baggage carts are used. Therefore the request was right, to use a massive housing with a heavy plywood intermediate bottom in the height where the red bumper of solid PVC is installed. 4 heavy industry swivel reels have been installed underneath of the plywood bottom. All carts where numbered to rent them out and management can find them back in this very large environment of that pilgrim terminal

The baggage cart seen here empty, with Manfred Mueller one of our Installers.
Wir bedanken uns fuer den Besuch unserer Web Seite. Wolfgang Feierbach
Wolfgang Feierbach, FG Design

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