The world’s tallest building, reaching an astonishing 1,000 metres (1 km) above the ground, will be built in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich kingdom has announced that the building, Kingdom Tower, costing $1.2 billion to construct will have a Four Seasons hotel, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and offices – will cover about 530,000 square metres (about 5.7 million square feet). The figure, however, is a relatively small figure in comparison with the $20 billion Kingdom City project.
Kingdom Holding Co, the investment firm headed by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said it signed a $1.2 billion (4.2 billion riyal) deal with the Saudi Bin Laden Group (owned by the family of Osama bin Laden) to build the Kingdom Tower. Chicago-based Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture is designing the building, which is actually the first phase of the planned two-square mile Kingdom City. There will be 59 elevators and 12 escalators – the elevators that serve the observatory at the very top will travel at 10 metres per second in both directions.
Kingdom Tower would erase record-holder 828-metres Burj Khalifa which currently is not only the tallest building but also the tallest free-standing structure in the world. The venture is seen as a key part of Saudi ambitions to maintain growth by diversifying its economic base away from oil, as well as in creating tens of thousands of jobs. But it’s remain to be seen if its people would take the jobs since most of it would be outsource to foreign workers. Already, the unemployment rate fo both men and women aged 20-24 in Saudi is at a mind-boggling 43%, not to mention the kingdom’s literacy rate is at 85%, below that of Myanmar and Zimbabwe.
The proposed tower will take over 5 years to complete and by 2016, Saudi Arabia will be the proud owner of the 1,000 metres tower. The final height is still a secret as according to Prince Alwaleed, he doesn’t want competitors to use the information to build a taller tower and surpass the Kingdom Tower so soon. Prince Alwaleed is a major investor in some of the biggest companies in the world, including Citigroup, Apple Inc., Pepsico, Procter & Gamble and Four Seasons Hotels. Kingdom Holding is also the second-biggest shareholder in News Corp, the media conglomerate currently at the centre of the phone hacking scandal in the United Kingdom.
Here’re some of the tallest buildings, including the just announced Kingdom Tower.
- Kingdom Tower, Jeddah – over 1,000 metres (awarded in 2011)
- Burj Khalifa Dubai, Dubai – 828 metres
- Willis Tower, Chicago – 527.3 metres
- Shanghai Tower, Shanghai – 632 metres (under construction)
- Abraj Al Bait Towers, Mecca – 601 metres (under construction)
- Lotte World Premium Tower, Seoul – 555 metres (under construction)
- Freedom Tower, New York City – 541 metres (under construction)
- Taipei 101, Taipei – 509 metres
- Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai – 494 metres
- International Commerce Center, Hong Kong – 484 metres
- Petronas Tower, Kuala Lumpur – 452 metres
- Empire State Building, New York City – 448 metres
- Burj Al Arab, Dubai – 321 metres
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