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10 Marvels of Contemporary Architecture Throughout Saudi Arabia

The number of amazing architectural wonders in Saudi Arabia is staggering. The country that is due to have the tallest building in the world has a number of other very impressive structures, some commercial, some religious, and all beyond astounding:

1. Kingdom Centre
Height: 302m
Floors above ground: 32
Construction start: 1999
Construction end: 2002

Let’s start this list off with a bang. The Kingdom Centre is a 99-storey skyscraper in Riyadh and it also happens to be the world's third-tallest building with a hole after the Shanghai World Financial Center and the 85 Sky Tower in Taiwan.

2. King Saud Mosque
Dome height: 42m
Minaret height: 60m
Construction end: 1987

His Majesty King Saud Mosque is is located in the Sharafeyyah District of Jeddah. Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil, an Egyptian architect who designed over a dozen mosques in Saudi Arabia, designed the King Saud Mosque in the 1980s and its construction was completed in 1987. The King Saud Mosque is the largest mosque in the city of Jeddah and it is characterized by a complex plan, which is aligned with the surrounding streets on three sides, but is also aligned with the qibla direction on its western side. 

3. Haj Terminal and Support Complex

This high-tech terminal and shelter was constructed in 1982 and especially for Islamic pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The complex is built to accommodate 950,000 pilgrims at a time at Jeddah International Airport. This marvel of contemporary architecture and of generosity is the Winner of the AIA Honor Award and of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983. The roof of the Haj Terminal and Support Complex is a canvas structure that can be stretched open or closed shut, depending on the requirements that are required at any given time, in order to keep the pilgrims safe and shielded from direct sunlight.

4. Al Faisaliyah Center
Height: 266.86 m
Floors (above ground): 30
Construction start: 1997
Construction end: 2000

The Al Faisaliyah Centre, also known as the Star Dome, is a commercial skyscraper located in the business district of Riyadh. The round part at the top is a restaurant called “The Globe.” Aside from its 360 panoramic view, the restaurant is also happens to be one of the premier restaurants in all of Saudi Arabia.

5. Abraj Al-Bait Towers / Royal Clock Towers
Height: 601m
Floors (above ground): 120
Construction start: 2004
Construction end: 2012

The Abraj Al-Bait Towers, also known as the Kingdom Clock Towers or the Royal Clock Towers, is a government-owned so–called “megatall” building complex. These towers are a part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project built to modernize the city in catering to its pilgrims. The central hotel building not only has the world's largest clock face but it also is the third tallest building and fourth tallest freestanding structure in the world. The building complex a mere few steps away from the world's second largest mosque and Islam's most sacred site, the Masjid al-Haram. The developer and contractor of the complex is the Saudi Binladin Group, the Kingdom's largest construction company.

6. Burj Al Anoud / Al Anoud Tower in Riyadh
Height: 155m
Floors (above ground): 20
Construction end: 2005

The Anoud Tower is a skyscraper in Riyadh and a major commercial building on King Fahd Road. It currently stands alone but there are plans to build a similar tower alongside it. The Princess Al-Anoud Foundation owns the tower.

7. Islamic Development Bank Headquarters in Jeddah
Height: 107m
Floors (above ground): 22
Construction start: 1990
Construction end: 1993

The Headquarters of the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah are housed in a skyscraper that was designed by the Japanese architect and world leader in sustainable design, Nikken Sekkei, whose office is also responsible for the development of other prestigious architectural projects in the financial heart of Riyadh.

8. Muna Bulk Reservoir

This reservoir was constructed with one issue in mind: to accommodate the peak water demand during Hajj season in Muna and Makkah. The MUNA Bulk Reservoir was a dome, 330m in diameter, which covered the construction of a one-million-cubic-meter circular bulk storage reservoir near Al-Maarsine-Makkah.

9. Jeddah Tower
Height: 1,000 m
Floors (above ground): 170
Construction start: 2013
Construction end: 2020

Previously known as the Kingdom Tower and the Mile-High Tower, the Jeddah Tower is a “megatall” skyscraper that is yet under construction on the north side of Jeddah. Upon completion, it will stand at 1km tall and be the tallest skyscraper in the world. It will house 59 elevators and is meant to be the centerpiece and first phase of a development and tourist attraction known as “Jeddah Economic City.” The Jeddah Tower was created by the American architect Adrian Smith, who also designed the Burj Khalifa.

10. Masjid al-Haram / Great Mosque of Mecca
Capacity: 900,000 worshippers (4 million worshippers during Hajj)
Length: 400,800m
Minarets: 9
Minaret height: 89m

Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām or the Great Mosque of Mecca is the largest mosque in the world. It of course surrounds Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba, in the city of Mecca. The current structure has outdoor and indoor praying spaces that can accommodate up to two million worshippers during the Hajj period.

The first major renovation under the royal family was done between 1955 and 1973, and in this renovation, four more minarets were added. The ceiling was also refurnished, and the floor was replaced with artificial stone and marble. The second Saudi renovations took place under King Fahd and were performed between 1982 and 1988. A new wing and an outdoor prayer area were added to the mosque and the new wing, which is also for prayers, is reached through the King Fahd Gate.

The third Saudi extension took place between 1988 and 2005 and it saw the building of more minarets, the erecting of a King's residence overlooking the mosque and more prayer area in and around the mosque itself and this third extension has also resulted in 18 more gates, three domes corresponding in position to each gate and the installation of nearly 500 marble columns. Further modern developments include the addition of heated floors, air conditioning, escalators and a drainage system.

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