Home / NEWS / Role call

Role call

by CW Staff on Aug 16, 2011

The Kingdom Tower is a bigger challenge than the Burj Khalifa. Photo: Getty
The Kingdom Tower is a bigger challenge than the Burj Khalifa. Photo: Getty

RELATED ARTICLES: Crown of the Kingdom | City of the hyper tall | The passion of a prince

RELATED ARTICLES: French spiderman up for challenge of Kingdom TowerEngineer: Kingdom Tower is practical challengeExperts: tapered form of Kingdom Tower is ideal

As largest construction firm in KSA, Saudi Binladin needs no introduction. The Jeddah-based company will build the tower and, thanks to the major construction of the Abraj Al Bait Towers (Makkah Royal Clock Towers Hotel) project in the heart of Makkah, will have gained valuable knowledge in supertall construction.

The clock tower is the tallest building in Saudi Arabia, and will, once completed later this year, be the second tallest in the world. It is somewhat fitting then that SBG has been appointed to build the tower that will beat it.

The company was founded in 1931 and now has a workforce of more than 35,000 working on projects throughout Saudi Arabia, and with subsidiaries in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE.

The company has hundreds of projects on its books, but the most significant include the recently opened Princess Noura University where the company was contracted to build low-rise faculty buildings, plus other work.

SBG also built 16 residential towers as part of the King Abdullah Economic City development, while is was also charged with the major expansion of the King Abdulaziz International Airport and the $1bn Al Jamarat expansion project in Makkah. The latter involved a massive five level above-ground bridge, underground services area, six service buildings, two heliports, six five-ton elevators, two bus stations and major site preparation works.

Saudi Binladin was also charged with constructing the 775km six-lane Al Qassim Expressway in 2005, and a 420km coastal highway between Shuqrah to Mukallah in the Yemen.

Kingdom Holding, the company behind the deal to build the Kingdom Tower, is no stranger to interesting tower design either. The conglomerate’s other tower, the Kingdom Centre in Riyadh, juts above the city skyline but, at 302m, will be dwarfed by the 1000m-plus Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. The Riyadh tower was designed by Ellerbe Beckett and Omrania & Associates, with structural engineering completed by Arup.

The 43-storey (41 above ground) mixed use tower was built by main contractors El-Seif Engineering over a three year period, and was completed in 2002.

Kingdom Holding itself was founded by HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in Riyadh in 1980. By 2006, the company had amassed assets worth $25bn. The company has interests in companies as diverse as Walt Disney (less than 1%) and Apple (5%), to Citigroup banking and financial services, Time Warner, Newscorp, Kodak, Pepsico, Motorola and Hewlett Packard.

The company also operates a lucrative property arm, Songbird Estates, which runs the Canary Wharf estate and financial district in east London. KHC also owns London’s Savoy Hotel, and has significant interests in Fairmont Raffles Holdings International, Four Seasons Hotels Inc and Mövenpick Hotels and resorts.