This week, the tremors from an earthquake in Iran reverberated around the UAE, although in my office on the 24th floor of a tower in Media City, only one person actually felt it. (You’re more likely to experience these quakes at the top of tall buildings than at ground level).
I’ve blogged about tall buildings before, because I spend hours of my life waiting for the elevator at work, then riding it cheek-by-jowl with strangers in suits – the only distraction as we all huddle together being the ‘Elevision’ TV monitors.
The Middle East has 10 of the top 30 skyscrapers in the world, and Dubai plays host to the tallest building on Earth – the Burj Khalifa, which, at a height of almost one kilometre (0.6miles), stretches up so neck-craningly high that it’s been suggested Muslims living above the 80th floor should fast for longer during Ramadan because they can still see the sun after it’s set on the ground.
The race is on in the region, however, to pump concrete even higher into the sky. Ground has just been broken on a construction site in Saudi Arabia that, in December 2018, will see the completion of a skyscraper planned to eclipse the Burj Khalifa by at least 173 metres. Kingdom Tower will have 200 floors in total, 160 of which will be habitable, and will form the nucleus of Kingdom City – a new commercial centre to the north of Jeddah.
But while the Kingdom Tower will win in terms of sheer size, the Saudi construction project has a long way to go before it surpasses Dubai’s record-setting superstructure.
Not only is the Burj Khalifa the centrepiece of some pretty impressive firework displays that cascade up and down the tapering, silvery tower, but it also houses the first hotel designed by Giorgio Armani. Most recently, the skyscraper formed the platform for the highest base jump ever when two crazy French daredevils leapt off the building’s 828-metre peak this April.
Beat that, Kingdom Tower!