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The world’s tallest skyscraper is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, shown above. It was built by the Bin Laden Group, a Saudia Arabian construction company founded by Muhammed bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s dad, who began life as a penniless bricklayer. The bin Ladens, despite their lack of royal blood, are among the wealthiest people in Saudi Arabia.
Burj Khalifa, formerly known as Burj Dubai, is 2,717 feet high, twice as high as the Empire State Building. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat said it is the tallest human-made structure on earth. Burj Khalifa is 162 stories high and can be seen from 60 miles away. Tenants have been found for only about half the space in the building.
It is ironic that the destroyer of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers should come from a family known for building, not destroying. The Bin Ladens repudiated Osama in 1994, and the U.S. government has concluded that the Bin Laden family is not involved in al Qaeda.
The Bin Laden Group has a contract for a taller building yet, the Kingdom Tower on the Red Sea near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It will be at least a kilometer high (about 6/10ths of a mile), which would make it 550 feet higher than the Burj Khalifa. Kingdom Tower developers said that the building will have the world’s highest observation deck, a Four Seasons hotel, 59 elevators (including five double-deckers) and 12 escalators.
Eight of the world’s 10 tallest skyscrapers are in Asia; the exceptions are the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, in Chicago, and the Empire State Building in New York City. The skyscraper boom in Asia reflects the wealth and pride of Asian nations, just as U.S. skyscrapers of an earlier era reflected the wealth and price of the USA. At the same time, I think there are better means to express the national competitive spirit than to build structures for which there is no economic demand.
Click on My Skyscraper’s Super Taller Than Yours for an article about the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which keeps track of which of the world’s buildings are the tallest.
Click on The Bin Ladens for a review and summary of Steven Coll’s book on the Bin Laden family.
Pictures of the Burj Khalifa and future Kingdom Tower are below.