Three hours south of the beautiful beach resort of Babolsar, Iran, lies the resting place of over five-million men, women and children. Wadi Al-Salam is the world’s largest graveyard and also the proposed site of Iran’s latest international airport.
Ever since the revolution of 1979, Iran has been a prime example of tolerance and human rights. This has opened Iran to enormous amounts of foreign investment, allowing the regime to accelerate its nuclear program thanks to the generous help of the United States.
The influx of foreign visitors and tourism has put a huge strain on Iran’s existing airport infrastructure and therefore, after protracted negotiations with the Chinese government, Iran’s supreme council announced plans for Wadi Al-Salam International Airport.
Why Wadi Al-Salam? Because of its central location. In the old days Iranians would measure distance by their ballistic-missile capabilities, now it’s by international travel and convenience stores. This airport would be a maximum of a five-hour drive from anywhere in Iran making it practically on the doorsteps of most of the population.
The fact that the airport will be placed over the graves of five-million people posed quite a problem causing internal clerical feuding. The ayatollahs, normally known for their great tolerance, were deeply divided on the issue. Citing verses from their holy books, both sides made their case to the now deceased minister of transport, infrastructure and tolerance, Alan Goldberg-Rafsanpajami.
AGF as he is known in the government’s inner circle took these arguments and findings to Norway to the U.N.-sponsored Norwegian Institute for Preservation of Graveyards near Airports (NIPGA), experts in the preservation of final resting places located near or in graveyards. NIPGA presented Goldberg-Rafsanpajami with three alternatives. The one the ministry finally chose will become one of the greatest architectural wonders of the world. Rivalling the pyramids, Freedom Tower and the Eiffel Tower, Wadi Al-Salam airport will be the first to be entirely constructed from glass.
This will be achieved in three stages. Stage one is to lay a giant raised glass base over the five- million graves so visitors will still be able to locate and visit relatives’ graves without compromising airport security. Visitors and travellers in the terminal will also be able to marvel at the graveyard and pay respects from above through the glass floor.
Stage two is to incorporate certain gravestones in the Catula Infrastructure of the airport to preserve the look and feel of a giant graveyard.
Stage three is the laying of a special raised glass runway. By creating specially thickened tempered glass and using gravestones as its support, the engineers are certain this new cutting edge runway will hold the weight of a Dreamliner’s departure or landing. In the winter they will salt the glass to prevent slippage and in the summer cool it with water. They appear to have thought this through well and covered all the potential pitfalls of a glass airport.
Because of Iran’s modesty laws the glass airport will not have toilets and travellers are advised to ‘go before you come, or go on the plane’ (taken from the airport’s brochure).
Visitors are already encouraged to tour the site and watch the construction in real-time via the airport’s webcam feed.