Saudi Arabia plan to take tower record by overtaking Dubai’s Burj Khalifa

December 3, 2015 3:25 pm

 

The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building – for the moment. Photo / AP

’s superlative-loving rulers are on notice: seems to be getting serious about stealing your crowning glory.
State-linked
development companies in the Red Sea port of Jeddah have agreed to pony
up the money for a skyscraper flirting with the unprecedented 1km mark.
That’s
about 167m taller than the current record spire, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
Or well more than twice as tall as the Empire State Building. Or about
six Washington Monuments stacked end to end.
The planned Jeddah
Tower is a monumental undertaking that had something of a pie-in-the-sky
aura when it was first rumoured last decade.
At the time, it was
widely considered just a bit of architectural bluster by Saudi leaders
in response to the world-record tower taking shape over the border in
the United Arab Emirates.

But it looks like Saudi Arabia could make good on its blueprints.
Two
major state development arms, the Jeddah Economic Co and Alinma
Investment, have announced a US$1.2 billion ($1.8 billion) financing
deal to fund the 200-storey tower and surrounding developments.
Plans call for the building to be completed in 2020.
Already,
26 stories are built. An observation terrace is planned for floor 157
of the tower, shaped like a gleaming shard. But even more startling than
the size is the timing. Saudi Arabia is in a relative slump by oil
giant standards.
Low crude prices have sharply cut the revenue
flow from the years of triple-digit levels per barrel. Add to that the
costly Saudi-led war in Yemen against anti-Saudi rebels that Riyadh
claims are backed by arch-rival Iran.
So why now?
“With
this deal, we will reach new, as yet unheard of highs in real estate
development,” boasted Mounib Hammoud, the CEO of the Jeddah Economic Co –
clearly with pun intended as a message to Saudis and others questioning
whether the country will remain the economic powerhouse of the region,
or get caught in a long and draining war in Yemen.
The project
also is something of a statement piece for the Saudi King Salman, who
will mark his first year in charge in January. Many of Saudi Arabia’s
landmarks – including hard-charging development in the Islamic holy city
of Mecca – are legacies of Salman’s predecessor, the late King
Abdullah.
No doubt that the nearly 80-year-old Salman hopes to be
around for a possible ribbon-cutting at the Jeddah Tower. If it
happens, the tallest-skyscraper bragging rights would shift to its fifth
country in a little more than a generation.
The Burj Khalifa
officially took the title in 2010 from Taiwan’s 509m Taipei 101 tower,
which held the top spot since 2003. Before that it was the 452m Petronas
Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which nudged out Chicago’s 442m Sears
Tower in 1998.
Since 2010, some other lofty buildings have
joined the ranks of the 10 top – including the Clock Tower in Mecca and
China’s Shanghai Tower – but did not crest the Burj Khalifa.

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