Saudi Arabia to build world's tallest tower, reaching 1 kilometer into the sky

Story highlights

  • Saudi Arabia is set to start on Kingdom Tower, slated to be the world's tallest building
  • The Kingdom Tower will reach 3,280 feet, have 200 floors and cost $1.2 billion
  • It would require 5.7 million square feet of concrete and 80,000 tons of steel
  • The foundations would be 200 feet (60 meters) deep

Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, could be stripped of its Guinness title if Saudi Arabia succeeds in its plans to construct the even larger Kingdom Tower in Jeddah -- a prospect looking more likely as work begins next week, according to Construction Weekly.

Consultants Advanced Construction Technology Services have recently announced testing materials to build the 3,280-feet (1 kilometer) skyscraper (the Burj Khalifa, by comparison, stands at a meeker 2,716 feet, or 827 meters).

The Kingdom Tower, estimated to cost $1.23 billion, would have 200 floors and overlook the Red Sea. Building it will require about 5.7 million square feet of concrete and 80,000 tons of steel, according to the Saudi Gazette.

Building a structure that tall, particularly on the coast, where saltwater could potentially damage it, is no easy feat. The foundations, which will be 200 feet (60 meters) deep, need to be able to withstand the saltwater of the nearby ocean. As a result, Advanced Construction Technology Services will test the strength of different concretes.

Wind load is another issue for buildings of this magnitude. To counter this challenge, the tower will change shape regularly.

Dubai Mall attracts 75 million people a year
Dubai Mall attracts 75 million people a year

    JUST WATCHED

    Dubai Mall attracts 75 million people a year

MUST WATCH

Dubai Mall attracts 75 million people a year 07:29
Shopping for lingerie in Saudi Arabia
Shopping for lingerie in Saudi Arabia

    JUST WATCHED

    Shopping for lingerie in Saudi Arabia

MUST WATCH

Shopping for lingerie in Saudi Arabia 02:03
Seven-star resort for Dubai pets
Seven-star resort for Dubai pets

    JUST WATCHED

    Seven-star resort for Dubai pets

MUST WATCH

Seven-star resort for Dubai pets 01:03

"Because it changes shape every few floors, the wind loads go round the building and won't be as extreme as on a really solid block," Gordon Gill explained to Construction Weekly. Gill is a partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the design architects for the project.

Delivering the concrete to higher floors will also be a challenge. Possibly, engineers could use similar methods to those employed when building the Burj Khalifa; 6 million cubic feet of concrete was pushed through a single pump, usually at night when temperatures were low enough to ensure that it would set.

Though ambitious, building the Kingdom Tower should be feasible, according to Sang Dae Kim, the director of the Council on Tall Buildings.

"At this point in time we can build a tower that is one kilometer, maybe two kilometers. Any higher than that and we will have to do a lot of homework," he told Construction Weekly.

First dinosaur bones in Saudi discovered

Inside the world's largest mall

When the elevators don't work in the world's tallest building

      Inside the Middle East

    • Aquaventure was expanded in 2013 to include a Leap of Faith ride that passes through a shark-filled aquarium. Visitors can swim in a manmade lagoon filled with marine animals.

      Theme park dreams

      Robot dinosaurs, Lego men and Spider-Man all could become Dubai's newest residents.
    • Al Nassma is the first camel milk chocoalte company in the world. The Dubai-based company had gone global, and Al Nassma products are carried in high-end department stores around the world, including London's Selfridges.

      Getting over the hump

      Not long ago camel milk was an unfancied staple, the preserve of Bedouin herders. Now its becoming a luxury.
    • Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, 'House of God' that Muslims believe was built by Abraham 4,000 years ago, on September 30, 2014. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshipers started pouring into the holy city for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. This year's Hajj comes as the authorities strive to protect pilgrims from two deadly viruses, Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus or MERS

      Hi-tech Hajj

      Managing over 2 million people during the Hajj takes some serious technology.
    • Sarah Attar of Saudi Arabia compete's as one of only two women from the country at the London Olympic Games.

      On the right track?

      More needs to be done so women from Saudi Arabia can become world champions in sports.
    • Micro stories magnified

      The Humans of New York photo project exposes the hopes and fears of ordinary people in Iraq and Jordan.
    • Super-sizing airports

      Dubai's appetite for construction continues with multi-billion dollar boost to build the world's largest airport.