Emaar to Build World’s Tallest Tower in Saudi

Bruce Stanley
Filed on June 15, 2009

DUBAI — Emaar Properties, which is already building the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai, has won a chance to outdo itself with a tower rising to a height of more than a kilometre — this one in Saudi Arabia.

Kingdom Holding Company, a Saudi property company, announced on Saturday that it has picked Emaar to build a 100 billion riyal ($26.6 billion) mixed-use real estate project called Jeddah Kingdom City and Kingdom Tower, outside the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The tower will be “the highest in the world,” Kingdom said in a news release.

The project is a coup for Emaar and comes just two days after another Dubai developer, Arabtec Holding, won a separate construction contract in Jeddah worth two billion riyals. Dubai’s construction firms have been eager to seek opportunities outside the emirate, where the collapse in the local property market is still unfolding. Many see Saudi Arabia, with its large and expanding population, as a juicy market.

No Emaar official was immediately available for comment.

Emaar, the Middle East’s biggest developer, beat out four competitors for the massive Kingdom project, which is to include residences for 80,000 people as well as offices and commercial facilities. The project’s centrepiece, Kingdom Tower, will rise from a base containing stores and a conference centre.

Kingdom Chairman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his Emaar counterpart Mohammed bin Ali Al Abbar signed a joint-venture agreement for the project on Saturday, the news release said.

Emaar is currently building the Burj Dubai, an 800 metre-tall tower that ranks as the world’s tallest man-made structure so far.

However, Emaar’s finances have suffered. The company’s net profit for the first quarter of this year plunged by 74 per cent from the same period last year.

Its shares, which closed 0.76 per cent lower on Thursday at Dh3.90 on the Dubai Financial Market, could get a big boost from Kingdom’s announcement. Emaar shares have risen by 73.9 per cent so far this year, off a 52-week low of Dh1.77 on February 3. They traded at an historical high of Dh29.10 in September 2005.

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