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Bin Laden Group to build world's tallest tower in Saudi Arabia for $1.2bn

Catrina Stewart in London

Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has teamed up with the Bin Laden Group in a grandiose project to build the world's tallest tower in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, outdoing Dubai's Burj al Khalifa, the current titleholder.

The proposed skyscraper, the Kingdom Tower, will soar more than a kilometre into the sky and take five years to build. It is the latest in a long line of glitzy mega-projects in the oil-rich Gulf countries that are as much about national and personal prestige as they are about showcasing their economic clout.

The tower, which will include luxury apartments, offices and a shopping centre, is thought to be the brainchild of the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed, nephew of King Abdullah.

The prince, one of the world's wealthiest men, said yesterday his company, Kingdom Holding Co, had signed a $1.2bn (e850m) deal with the Bin Laden Co, a Saudi construction firm owned by the family of the slain terror chief Osama bin Laden, to build the tower on the outskirts of Jeddah.

The tower, designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture, will if completed be the glimmering centrepiece of a $20bn (e14bn) new city that looks out over the Red Sea, as well as a prized trophy for its wealthy backers.

Currently, Dubai's Burj al Khalifa is the highest building in the world at 828m with its nearest rival, the Taipai 101 in Taiwan, at 509m.

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