Look out, Dubai – Saudi Arabia is set to begin building the world’s tallest skyscraper in a bid to outdo Dubai’s record-breaking skyscraper, which was inaugurated less than two years ago.
The Saudis awarded a more than $1 billion contract for a spire that will be named the Kingdom Tower and will soar two-thirds of a mile high. Inside the approximately 5.4 million square-feet building you’ll find a Four Seasons hotel, serviced apartments and luxury condos and offices. It will be built in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The projects are seen as a status symbol to show off economic success and are intended to make Saudi Arabia a front-runner in the race between the oil-rich Gulf nations for glitzy, architectural trophies that dot their desert territories with skyscrapers and elaborate, man-made islands.
An investment firm called Kingdom Holding Co. is headed by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal signed a $1.2 billion deal with the Saudi Binladen Group to build Kingdom Tower in Jeddah.
Talal Al Maiman, a board member of KHC and the Jeddah Economic Co., said, “the decision of the partners to build the world’s tallest building further demonstrates their belief in investing in this nation. We intend Kingdom Tower to become both an economic engine and a proud symbol of the Kingdom’s economic and cultural stature in the world community. We envision Kingdom Tower as a new iconic marker of Jeddah’s historic importance as the traditional gateway to the holy city of Mecca.”
The project is also seen as a key component of Saudi ambitions to keep growth healthy by diversifying its economic base away from the crude oil that has fuelled the economy for decades.
Chicago-based Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture is designing the tower and is the first phase of the planned Kingdom City, a sprawling, $20 billion, two-square mile urban development project first announced in 2008 as the global financial crisis was squeezing world markets. Alwaleed’s proposed skyscraper would shatter the record for Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which has 160 liveable floors and includes a boutique Armani hotel. At 2,717 feet, Burj Khalifa is not only the tallest building but also the tallest free-standing structure in the world.