They are the neighbouring gulf states battling it out for economic supremacy. And in the latest grand example of keeping up with the Joneses, Saudi Arabia has awarded a contract to build the world’s tallest skyscraper, shattering the current record held by a building in Dubai.
The £736m deal for the hotel, office and residential complex reaching two-thirds of a mile into the sky makes Saudi Arabia the current frontrunner in the race between the oil-rich nations for glitzy architectural trophies. The projects are seen as status symbols to show off both economic success and cultural sophistication.
Kingdom Holding Co, the investment firm headed by the billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said it signed the deal with the Binladen Group to build the 1,000-metre Kingdom Tower on the outskirts of the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The Saudi construction group is owned by the family of Osama bin Laden, which disowned the former al-Qaida leader years before the 9/11 attacks.
“The decision of the partners to build the world’s tallest building further demonstrates their belief in investing in this nation,” said Talal al-Maiman, a Kingdom Holding Co board member.
“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 proposed skyscraper would break the record of Dubai’s 828-metre Burj Khalifa, which opened in January 2010 as the world’s tallest building with 160 livable floors and a boutique Armani hotel.
Dubai developer Nakheel had planned to build a tower more than 1,000 metres high in the city-state but shelved the plans in early 2009 as the global economic crisis soured demand. More info