The Middle East’s New Super Skyscrapers

Jeddah Economic Company / Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Construction begins on what will be the world’s tallest building.

Earlier this year, construction began on Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower, which, when completed, will likely usurp the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building. Originally designed as a mile-high structure, it was later scaled down after initial surveys suggested the land couldn’t support it. Planners have been coy about the structure’s final height (though it should exceed two Empire State Buildings), partially to foil attempts by other developers to best their project—and thus deprive them of bragging rights, along with the tourist dollars that come with them. No matter: Before ground was even broken in Saudi Arabia, plans were underway for at least one other skyscraper that, if completed, could potentially snatch the title from the Kingdom Tower. Here’s how they might measure up:

Kingdom Tower

Location: Kingdom City, a planned development 12 miles north of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia
Projected Height:
3,280 feet
Estimated Cost:
$1.23 billion
Projected Completion:
2017
Features:
Four Seasons Hotel, Four Seasons–serviced apartments, office space, retail
Very Interesting:
The Saudi Binladin Group, which recently won the construction contract, built the second-tallest building in the world (the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower).

Burj Mubarak al-Kabir

Location: Madinat al-Hareer, or City of Silk, a planned city in Subiya, Kuwait
Proposed Height:
3,284 feet
Estimated Cost:
$7.37 billion
Projected Completion:
2016
Features:
Seven vertically stacked 30-story “neighborhoods” that will include apartments, offices and hotels
Very Interesting:
The building will feature vertical ailerons up its sides. The ailerons, like the flaps on an airplane wing, will redirect gusts around the structure and keep it from vibrating in high winds.