Saudi billionaire to build world's tallest tower

Tue Aug 2, 2011 10:07am EDT
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By Asma Alsharif

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal unveiled plans Tuesday to build the world's tallest tower in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, signing a 4.6 billion riyal ($1.23 billion) contract with Bin Laden Group.

The proposed tower, which will rise more than 1,000 meters and take just over five years to complete, is the centerpiece of the planned Kingdom City development being built outside Jeddah by Prince Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding.

"Building this tower in Jeddah sends a financial and economic message that should not be ignored," Prince Alwaleed told reporters. "It has a political depth to it to tell the world that we Saudis invest in our country despite what is happening around us from events, turmoil and revolutions even."

When completed, the tower would replace Dubai's 828-meter Burj Khalifa as the tallest tower in the world. The Burj Khalifa was built by Emaar Properties for a total cost of $1.5 billion.

The Jeddah tower, which is to include a hotel, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and offices, will be designed by U.S. architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill.

Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, said the Jeddah tower would eventually top 1,000 meters, but the final height is a closely guarded secret.

"It is not 1,000 meters. It is more, could be more by many meters... The figure is secret, only a small number of people know," he said.

Kingdom Holding shares were up 2.55 percent on the Saudi bourse at 1255 GMT.   Continued...

<p>Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal speaks near a model of the world's tallest tower during a news conference in Riyadh August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed</p>