The World’s Tallest Skyscraper Resumes Construction After Half a Decade of Pause

When finished, the tower will stand at 3,281 feet tall—nearly eleven times the height of the Statue of Liberty
Sunset over modern office buildings in business district center of Jeddah Saudi Arabia.
The world's tallest building is under construction in Saudi Arabia.Photo: Rahul Dsilva/Getty Images

What do Philadelphia City Hall, the Empire State Building, and the Burj Khalifa have in common? They’ve all held the title of the world’s tallest skyscraper. And eventually Jeddah Tower, a neo-futuristic skyscraper planned in Saudi Arabia, will join the ranks among these iconic structures.

Designed by Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Jeddah Tower’s construction started back in 2013 but was paused in 2018. Its contractor, the Binladin Group, was taken off the project following the the 2017–2019 Saudi Arabian purge when its president, Bakr bin Laden, half-brother to Osama Bin Laden, was arrested. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in further delays; however, according to Dezeen, construction is now set to resume on the super-tall skyscraper.

Jeddah Tower, formerly known as Kingdom Tower, under construction in 2018.

Photo: Getty Images

Citing the Middle East Business Intelligence (MEED), Dezeen reports that the developer, Jeddah Economic Company (JEC), is now seeking new bids from contractors to complete the record-setting project. According to MEED, a number of global contractors have been invited to submit proposals by the end of the year. However, an exact timeline for the rest of the project was not shared.

Before it was halted, builders had finished about a third of the building. When completed, the tower will stand at around 3,281 feet, or one kilometer. It will be about 564 feet taller than the Burj Khalifa, which was also designed by Smith and currently holds the record for the world’s tallest skyscraper. Finished renderings show a glossy, glass-clad tower with a sloped façade.

“The sleek, streamlined form of the tower can be interpreted as a reference to the folded fronds of young desert plant growth,” reads the project’s description. “The way the fronds sprout upward from the ground as a single form, then start separating from each other at the top, is an analogy of new growth fused with technology.” According to Dezeen, the mixed-use building will contain an observation deck (expected to be the world’s tallest), a Four Seasons hotel, residences, and offices.