At over 1,000 meters, Kingdom Tower will be the centrepiece of the $20 billion Kingdom City real estate development in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia near the Red Sea.
The tower itself is expected to cost $1.2 billion to construct and will be a mixed-use property featuring a luxury hotel, office space, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory. Whilst foundation work for the 200-floor tower already began in December, above-ground work will start April 27. The tower will require 5.7 million square feet of concrete, 80,000 tons of steel, and it will stunt Dubai’s Burj Khalifa by nearly 600 feet. It will be 4 times the height of The Shard in London.
The response from the general public towards this development has not been pleasant all around. As observed via social media, a few speculators have adopted a strong negative tone towards the project. A lot is coming from westerners who feel the project is a result of vanity from what was described by some as ‘temporary oil wealth’. Others are concerned about the environmental implications and the death toll a project of this size will have on construction workers. Saudi Arabia hasn’t had it easy with the media recently as gender equality issues and female rebellion have taken center stage on global media over the past few months.
It is undisputed that once complete hotels, offices and retail outlets in the Kingdom Tower will eventually thrive. This will come with it’s challenges as the Burj Khalifa demonstrated. However in many ways the Kingdom Tower can be likened to vanity, as the real need for a building of this size can be argued against. Skyscrapers were born from a lack of space in well built up regions or districts. This led to developers building upwards to maximise floor space and return. Subsequently skyscrapers have come to represent wealth, economic prosperity and financial dominance. Nonetheless, in countries like Saudi Arabia where space is still in ample supply, the need to build THAT far up is beyond excessive.
That aside, the architects behind the Kingdom Tower have done a good job. The brand new technology in lifts, which has allowed construction for towers as high as 1km and possibly even 2km means that many more structures of this size should follow shortly.