Based in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, the building has received funding headed up by Prince Al Waleed, the richest Arab in the World, Prince Al Waleed who is the 26th richest person in the world was recently in the news talking and about Rupert and James Murdoch, News Corporation and News International due to his standing as one of its largest shareholders. The cost to complete such a project is close to $1.2bn or nearly £750m.
Jeddah is a great location as it is on the Red Sea and is one of the most forward focused in Saudi Arabia. It is also a prime spot as it is the main entry point, either by air or sea for pilgrims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca or Medina - which happens every year. It's a couple of hours between Jeddah and these cities. Jeddah is huge which extends along the coast of the Red Sea. It has its own corniche which is 30km long and has a whole stream of sculptures that lines the route.
The tower will be 1km high, that's not quite as tall as the mile high aspiration of the Frank Llloyd Wright who envisioned a building called the Illinois back in the 1950s but it's two thirds there. And it's not as tall as it was pitched over the last few months. Initially it was to be a mile high building allegedly, but got scrapped because those additional metres threw the budget out of the air. Funnily enough the Nakheel Harbour and Tower in Dubai which was pitched back before bubble burst was pitched to be the same height as the Kingdom Tower. The Kingdom Tower will be nearly 200m taller than the Burj Khalifa which is 828m high - but for how long? The race to the top is a symbol of power and strength - and before you know it, China will be announcing to the world its intention to trump the Saudi Arabian bid to be top of the sky. Or in the Chinese way, it won't be announced, it'll just happen.
But all of this doesn't bode well for the world. back in the day when the Empire State Building in New York was being constructed in 1930 the Great Depression began. In the 1970s the Sears Tower was during the time of a major stagflation. The Petronas Towers in Malaysia in 1998 marked the beginning of the Asian Financial crisis. And the Burj Khalifa and arguably Dubai became a symbol for the global financial crisis - which we will be in for the coming years. Hopefully by the time the Kingdom Building is completed, we will be out of the crisis rather than another one beginning!
From the skyscraper index:
The Skyscraper Index is a concept put forward in January 1999 by Andrew Lawrence, research director at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, which showed that the world's tallest buildings have risen on the eve of economic downturns. Business cycles and skyscraper construction correlate in such a way that investment in skyscrapers peaks when cyclical growth is exhausted and the economy is ready for recession. The buildings may actually be completed after the onset of the recession or later, when another business cycle pulls the economy up, or even cancelled.Unlike earlier instances of similar reasoning ("height is a barometer of boom", Lawrence used skyscraper projects as a predictor of economic crisis, not boom.
The Kingdom Tower will be impressive. It will contain the Four Seasons Hotel and Apartments and will have a 3,280 foot spire and will contain 5.7 million square feet of space:
There will be 59 elevators, 54 single-deck and five double-deck, along with 12 escalator distributed through the Kingdom Tower. The elevators going up to the observatory deck will travel at 10 meters per second. That's 22.3 miles per hour. It will take you one minute and forty seconds to reach the top of the tower. There's even an outdoor space at the top of the spire which will be used by the penthouse floor at level 157.
Some of the media have chosen to focus on the fact that this will be built by the bin laden group - whose name was ruined by the evil Osama. The Group actually severed ties with Osama many years back as he sought to build the terror organisation of Al Qaida. But no doubt the ignorant will see the story in this way: Bin Laden family building a tall tower to pour salt in the wounds of 9/11 victims. I'm afraid it ain't like that.
The hope is that this will take Jeddah global:
"We are confident that upon completion, Kingdom Tower will become one of the world's great tourist destinations as well as one of the most attractive places to live and work,"
That said, we believe Kingdom Tower won't draw global crowds in the way that the Burj Khalifa has, at least in the medium term. The UAE has created an industry to meet global tourism, whether it is through a relaxed attitude to alcohol or a Western way of life. That won't happen in Saudi. Jeddah will be catering to the Arab and Muslim populous, which although large, limits its ambitions. Even so, the return is almost guaranteed. Prince Al Waleed rubber stamping and fronting it is better than a bank.
Nevertheless, It's a great ambition - but let's hope that it is met with many more things - jobs, stability, reinvention and an increased investment for the people, namely welfare and education, because buildings may make a city, but people make the world. The Arab Summer cometh.
See you in the sky. In 2016.
World’s New Tallest Building