Jeddah Tower: World’s Tallest Building By 2020 – All You Need To Know

Currently, the tallest building in the world is Burj Khalifa, which stands 828 meters tall. But that’s going to change soon, and if everything goes according to the plans, Jeddah Tower (in Saudi Arabia) will acquire the title of the tallest building in 2020.

This new skyscraper represents an unprecedented exercise that dares to go beyond the 1-kilometer mark. On completion, it will reach the height of at most 1,138 meters, a height that we’ve only imagined and seen in fictional movies.

It is meant to expand the prosperity, growth and regional emergence of Saudi Arabia on the global stage. We are going to cover every aspect of this giant building, from its architectural style, design, and engineering to the budget and progress rate of the overall project. So let’s begin with some astonishing facts and stats that show Jeddah Tower is much more than just the tallest structure.

The Name of Skyscraper

The structure was previously named as Kingdom Tower, which was later replaced with Jeddah Tower. It has been scaled down from the initial plan (one mile high) to at least one kilometer.

Authorities took this decision because the geology of the location is not suitable for a tower of that attitude. The exact height of the tower is being kept private, and we’ll only get to know when the construction is complete.

Owner and Budget

The owner and creator of the project is the Prince of Saudi Arabia, Al-Waleed bin Talal, who is also the wealthiest man in the Middle East, nephew of Kings of Saudi Arabia, and a grandson of Ibn Saud (first monarch and founder of Saudi Arabia).

Talal is the chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company that holds a big share of ownership. Saudi Binladin Group signed a contract of $1.23 billion (US dollars) in 2011, to construct the world’s tallest building, Jaddah tower in Jeddah. This is even less than the budget of Burj Khalifa ($1.5 billion).

Now you may ask how could someone build a skyscraper with that kind of budget. Well, the credit goes to cheap labor available in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia and prices have also declined because of the global financial crisis.

The Area

Jeddah Economic City development is a three-phase project that will cover 5.2 kilometers of area. The tower is being built on a 50-hectare plot, with an area of 243,886 square meters (to be exact). The complete city is designed by HOK Architects and it will take more than 10 years to develop. The estimated cost of the project is over $20 billion.

Jeddah tower is supposed to have more than 170 floors, housing luxury hotels, condominiums, office space, serviced apartments, and an observation deck.

Who Designed the Building?

The primary design of the skyscraper is created by Adrian Smith, an American architect who also designed Burj Khalifa, Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago), Pearl River Tower (Guangzhou, China) and many other unique structures.

Emaar Properties PJSC is responsible for the management of tower, and Thornton Tomasetti Group for structural engineering. Environmental Systems Design Inc. will provide electrical, mechanical and fire protection engineering, along with teledata and security systems.

Structural Design and Engineering

The skyscraper has a triangular footprint and sloped exterior in order to decrease wind loads. The structural load would be reduced by eliminating the need for complex outrigger transfers and belt trusses.

Each wing will be terminated at different altitudes to allow them to taper at different rates and build a three-section spire. The supporting structure consists of cast-in-place reinforced concrete walls, reinforced plate concrete floor framing, and coupling beams.

The high-performance exterior wall system will reduce energy consumption by minimizing thermal loads. All 3-sides of the tower will have a series of notches, which will generate pockets of shadow shielding areas from the Sun and provide dazzling views from the outside.

Like Burj Khalifa, Jeddah Tower will intake cool and fresh air from the top floors and use it to air condition the building. Along with this, it will use the air conditioning water for irrigation and other essential systems throughout the tower.

Outdoor Sky Terrace

There will be a big outdoor balcony, called sky terrace (around 30 meters) on one side of the building, on the 157th floor. The circular shape balcony would be available for penthouse owners for private use, who can overlook the Red Sea from a height of over 610 meters. One more thing, it would have a floor made of glass.

The Elevators

We are talking about the world’s tallest building here, how can we not mention the thing that will carry you to the top floors. The skyscraper will have a total of 59 elevators, 5 of which are double-deck, and 12 escalators. These high-speed elevators will go up to 10 meters per second.

They won’t go faster because it can cause nausea (due to variation in air pressure at such high speed). As per the current design, no elevator in the building will take you from bottom to top floor.


The total weight of the tower will be around 900,000 tonnes. It would take around 500,000-meter cube volume of concrete and over 80,000 tons of steel to build a complete structure.

Overall the construction of the tower heavily relies on cutting-edge technology, which includes strong structural steel, reinforced concrete, and powerful pumps that can push the heavy concrete against gravity. In the last 2 decades, there have been many advances in reinforced concrete. The quality of concrete and pumping technology is getting better and better, making such massive structures feasible.

Progress Report

Image credit: Checoblett

Read: 22 Exceptional Glass Buildings From All Over The World

As of March 2018, Jeddah Tower stands 242 meters tall with 66 floors – it has achieved 26.44% of its planned-height. Currently, the project is on hold and expected to continue in August 2019.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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