x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Kingdom Tower project to beat Burj Khalifa as world's tallest to start

Dubai’s Burj Khalifa has only five years left as the world’s tallest building if Kingdom Tower, a kilometre-tall skyscraper in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, goes ahead as planned.

The planned Kingdom Tower in Jeddah will be more than a kilometre high. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / DAPD
The planned Kingdom Tower in Jeddah will be more than a kilometre high. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture / DAPD

Dubai’s Burj Khalifa has only five years left as the world’s tallest building if Kingdom Tower, a kilometre-tall skyscraper in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, goes ahead as planned.

Yesterday the developers planning to build the world’s latest tallest building appointed The Shard builder Mace and EC Harris, the project manager behind Abu Dhabi’s largest hotel complex, to manage construction of the US$1.2 billion (Dh4.4bn) Kingdom Project to the north of Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city.

Jeddah Economic Company (JEC) also appointed the EC Harris and Mace joint venture to provide commercial and design management for the development, which when completed will be higher than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and four times the size of The Shard in London.

The 500,000 square metre tower will include a Four Seasons hotel, serviced apartments, offices, flats and the world’s highest observatory.

Construction work is due to start on site on April 1 and is expected to be completed 63 months later in 2018.

JEC comprises Prince Al Waleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company, which owns a 33.35 per cent stake, Saudi Binladin Group, the largest construction firm in the world, which owns a 16.63 per cent stake, Abraar International Holding Company, represented by Samaual Bakhsh, with a stake of 33.35 per cent, and the prominent Jeddah businessman Abdulrahman Hassan Sharbatly with a stake of 16.67 per cent.

“The vision of constructing the tallest tower in the world in Jeddah belongs to HRH Prince Al Waleed bin Talal,” said Waleed Abdul Jaleel Batterjee, the chief executive of JEC.

“His vision is also that the project itself will set the world’s sights on our beloved Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and particularly on Jeddah. Furthermore, the project will help create hundreds of jobs for our Saudi countrymen.”

Mr Batterjee added that JEC is also in final negotiations for the appointment of a UK-based quantity surveying firm.

“Kingdom Tower is a project of international importance and immense ambition,” said Mark Reynolds, the chief executive of Mace. “Prince Al Waleed bin Talal’s vision … will secure international recognition for the kingdom’s economic and cultural status.”

“The Kingdom Tower is a landmark building that will clearly demonstrate Saudi Arabia’s ­ambitions to the world,” added Keith Brooks, the head of property and social infrastructure at EC Harris.

Kingdom Tower will be the centrepiece of Jeddah’s $20bn Kingdom City development, a 5.3 million square metres project that was originally announced in 2008.

The following year it announced that Dubai’s Emaar Properties would develop the tower and supervise its construction although the tie-up appears to have been shelved.

Kingdom City will comprise homes, shops, hotels and schools located around a series of lakes and canals.

During the global financial crisis Kingdom officials consistently denied reports the tower had been cancelled and in 2011 announced that it had signed a 4.6bn Saudi riyal (Dh4.5bn) deal with Saudi Binladin Group to build the tower, which included SBL taking a stake in the mega scheme.

The tower was designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture in 2011. Dar Al-Handasah was appointed as supervision consultant, Saudi Baeur as pilling contractor and Saudi Binladin Group as the main contractor. Kingdom Holding is controlled by Prince Al Waleed, one of the world’s richest men.

He has repeatedly refused to specify the exact planned height of the Kingdom Tower to avoid tipping off competitors.
Prince Al Waleed is a major investor in some of the biggest companies in the world, including Citigroup, Apple, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Four Seasons Hotels.

Kingdom Holding is also the second-biggest shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.


lbarnard@thenational.ae