The eyes of the world are focused on Jeddah’s sky. Here, in the Saudi city overlooking the Red Sea, the construction of what will become the world’s tallest skyscraper is underway, the first to reach a kilometer in height, surpassing the current record of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
The Kingdom Jeddah Tower (this will be the name of the building) will cover 530,000 square meters distributed over 167 floors and will be constructed with an investment of 1.2 billion dollars. Its construction was one of the themes of the Saudi Infrastructure Expo, an event organized in Riyadh on September 11th last year, during which an update was provided on the massive $1 trillion plan that the country is developing to compete in the international race to host major events in the coming years.
Infrastructure plays a crucial role in Vision 2030, the billion-dollar plan launched by the ruling Dynasty to modernize Saudi Arabia and diversify its economy away from oil. Skyscrapers and large buildings also play an important role in this race, as they have been reshaping the skylines of Saudi cities for years.
The Peaks of Saudi Metropolises
While we await the completion of the Kingdom Jeddah Tower, Saudi Arabia can already present some of the tallest and most modern buildings in the world. The second tallest skyscraper in the country, the Clock Tower, fits this description. Located in Jeddah, it is a complex of six buildings, the tallest of which reaches a height of 601 meters, currently ranking it sixth among the world’s tallest skyscrapers. Its name derives from the clocks on each facade of the tallest tower, each of which reaches a height of 56 meters.
The tallest financial building in Saudi Arabia is the PIF Tower, the skyscraper of the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund managing assets of over $600 billion. The PIF Tower is 385 meters tall and was built in Riyadh, where you can also find the third, fourth, and fifth tallest buildings in the country. Among these, the one that has been dominating the city’s skyline for years is the Kingdom Centre. The Kingdom Center, standing at 300 meters, is now a symbol of Saudi development. The building, known for the crescent that tops it, houses the Kingdom Holding and the Four Seasons hotel, as well as offices, apartments, a shopping mall, restaurants, and conference rooms. Completed in 2002 and awarded the Emporis Skyscraper Award for “the world’s best-designed skyscraper,” it was built by the Webuild Group, which has been involved in complex infrastructure projects in the country for years.
Iconic Projects Across the Country
Riyadh, the capital, is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure revival. An international metropolis with over 7 million inhabitants, it has become an important center for trade and finance in recent years. Its rapid population growth has necessitated massive infrastructure projects, the most significant of which is perhaps the construction of the new city metro system. Saudi authorities present it as the most ambitious urban transport project in the world, and they might not be wrong because, once completed, the Riyadh Metro will have a total length of 176 kilometers with 85 stations, serving approximately 400,000 passengers daily.
The Webuild Group also participated in this significant project, building Line 3 of the metro, the longest section of the system at 41.2 kilometers with 22 stations.
But the Riyadh metro is just one part of a series of major projects that involve the entire country starting from the capital. The Mecca Public Transport Program is another urban mobility project, this time for Mecca. In this case, the city, which has now surpassed 1.5 million inhabitants, is slated to have four metro lines totaling 180 kilometers with 88 stations. It’s an ambitious initiative that the Saudi government believes could be completed in the next 20 years.
In the diverse array of Saudi development dreams, there is naturally room for urban redevelopment projects as well, such as Jabal Omar, a massive development in Mecca, described as the country’s largest construction project. This project covers an area of 40 hectares, within which hotels and residential buildings will be constructed, capable of accommodating at least 36,000 people every year.
Building new cities, erecting skyscrapers where there was once only desert, and developing metro lines to make transportation faster and more sustainable are the key principles guiding Saudi Arabia’s ambitious journey, with the aim of transforming the country into an economic and political hub in the region.