Saudi’s Jeddah Tower reaches for new heights

27 September 2023

 

A landmark moment came for Saudi Arabia’s construction sector in mid-September when Jeddah Economic Company (JEC) invited firms to bid for a contract to complete the world’s tallest tower project, the 1,000-metre-plus Jeddah Tower.

Work on the tower “is back in full [swing]”, a source close to the project told MEED.

When completed, Jeddah Tower will be the first structure in history to exceed 1 kilometre in height. It will also be taller than the current world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, by more than 172 metres. 

When contacted by MEED, Talal Ibrahim Almaiman, CEO of Kingdom Holding Company, confirmed that the tender to complete the record-breaking tower had been officially issued.

The companies that have been invited to bid for the contract include:

  • Almabani (local)
  • Bawani (local)
  • China Harbour (China)
  • China State Construction Engineering Corporation (China)
  • Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC – Lebanon)
  • El-Seif Engineering Contracting (local)
  • Hyundai Engineering Construction (South Korea)
  • Mohammed Abdulmohsin al-Kharafi & Sons (Kuwait)
  • Nesma & Partners (local)
  • Powerchina (China)
  • Samsung C+T (South Korea)
  • Saudi Freyssinet (local)
  • Skanska (Sweden)
  • Strabag (Europe)

The contractors have been given three months to prepare their bids, and are expected to form joint ventures comprising local and international partners. It is understood that contractors have visited the site.

When completed, Jeddah Tower will be the first structure in history to exceed 1 kilometre in height

Restarting construction

One important question for the potential bidders is the condition of the tower’s existing structure. JEC commissioned an independent assessment of the structure before the tender was issued. Sources close to the project have told MEED that the report concluded that building work can restart.

The construction work for the superstructure of the tower, which began in the early 2010s with the local Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) as the contractor, is one-third complete.

SBG stopped working on the project in February 2018. In September this year, JEC called in the performance guarantees or bonds provided by SBG. A source close to the project said that the value of the bonds totals SR653m ($174m).

Almaiman confirmed that the developer has exercised its rights under the contract after having given SBG five years to re-engage.

While SBG is no longer working as the contractor on the project, the consultancy team remains the same. The architect is US-based Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill, and the engineering consultant is Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah (Shair & Partners).

Project stakeholders 

The shareholders in JEC are Kingdom Holding Company with a 40 per cent stake, Bakhsh Group with a 40 per cent stake, and Sharbatly Group with a 20 per cent share.

In 2015, JEC and Saudi Arabia’s Alinma Investment established a $2.24bn fund to finance the first phase of the Jeddah Economic City project and Jeddah Tower. The Alinma Jeddah Economic City Fund is a sharia-compliant fund that will operate under the Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority. 

Alinma Bank agreed to finance the fund, which is managed by Alinma Investment. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, was appointed as chair of the fund’s board. 


The 170-storey Jeddah Tower will have a variety of revenue streams and will
feature the world’s highest observation deck. Credit: Jeddah Economic Company

Development plans

Jeddah Tower is the centrepiece of the Jeddah Economic City development in the Obhur district, north of Jeddah. The project’s first phase, which includes Jeddah Tower, covers an area of 1.5 square kilometres.

The mixed-use tower will have 170 storeys, seven of which will be allocated to a five-star, 200-room Four Seasons Hotel. There will also be 11 storeys housing 121 serviced apartments, and seven storeys of offices. 

A further 61 storeys of the tower will comprise 318 residential units, a gym, spa, cafes and restaurants. Plans also include several sky lobbies and the world’s highest observation deck, located on the top floors of the tower, 660 metres above the ground. 

Development work on the project began in 2006. Building the world’s tallest tower requires state-of-the-art technologies and construction methods. 

The piling and foundations work for the tower was completed in 2014. Germany’s Bauer was the piling contractor, and 270 piles were cast, reaching 105 metres below ground. The raft sitting on top of the piles is one of the world’s largest reinforced steel foundations, with a thickness of between 4.5 and 5 metres. 

Cranage is a major challenge when constructing megatall towers. In early 2015, JEC took delivery of custom-made cranes, supplied by Germany’s Liebherr & WolffKran.

For elevators, Finland’s Kone was appointed to supply the fastest and highest double- decker elevator system in the world. The planned system will travel at a speed of more than 10 metres a second, rising to 660 metres. 


MEED's October 2023 special report on Saudi Arabia includes: 

> POLITICS: Saudi Arabia looks both east and west
> SPORTSaudi Arabia’s football vision goes global
> ECONOMY: Riyadh prioritises stability over headline growth
BANKSSaudi banks track more modest growth path
> UPSTREAMAramco focuses on upstream capacity building

> DOWNSTREAMSaudi chemical and downstream projects in motion
> POWERRiyadh rides power projects surge
> WATERSaudi water projects momentum holds steady
> GIGAPROJECTSGigaproject activity enters full swing
> TRANSPORTInfrastructure projects support Riyadh’s logistics ambitions
> JEDDAH TOWERJeddah developer restarts world’s tallest tower

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Colin Foreman
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