Kingdom Tower set to go skywards as it aims for world’s tallest building tag

Above ground construction work due to start next week in Jeddah, after months of testing and preparation work.

The iconic Kingdom Tower project in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Above ground work is set to begin on the tower which is expected to be taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Rendering courtesy EC Harris/Mace
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Above-ground construction work on what is expected to be the world’s tallest building, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is due to start next week.

The world’s largest construction firm, Saudi Binladin Group (SBL), is set to start building the long-awaited 1 kilometre-tall tower on April 27 after months of testing.

Piling and other preparatory work on the tower, which has been valued at 4.6 billion Saudi riyals (Dh4.51bn), officially started last April after Kingdom Holding, the developer controlled by Prince Al Waleed, appointed the contractors Mace and EC Harris to work on the project.

In February, SBL appointed Advanced Construction Technology Services (Acts) to carry out high-level tests on a half-million cubic metres of concrete and about 80,000 tonnes of steel set to be used in the building.

The tower would overtake the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai as the world’s tallest building when it is expected to be completed in 2018.

Kingdom Holding struck a deal with SBL in August 2011 to build the tower and help finance the project after various construction delays had led to speculation that the development had stalled.

Kingdom Tower is the centrepiece of the planned 5.2 sq km Kingdom City urban centre along the Red Sea coast, which will comprise homes, shops, hotels and schools located around a series of lakes and canals.

The project was originally announced in 2008. The following year it was announced that Dubai's Emaar Properties would develop the tower and supervise its construction.

But the tie-up was shelved as the global financial crisis hit the Arabian Gulf, and the fate of the tower itself hung in the balance until three years ago when Kingdom Holdings struck a deal with SBL to build the tower, which included SBL taking a stake in the mega-scheme.

Kingdom Holding has repeatedly refused to specify the exact planned height of the Kingdom Tower to avoid tipping off competitors.

lbarnard@thenational.ae

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