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The Abraj Al-Bait Towers


The Abraj Al-Bait Towers, also known as the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower, is a building complex in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. These towers are a part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project that strives to modernize the city in catering to its pilgrims. The complex holds several world records, the tallest clock tower in the world and the world's largest clock face. The complex's hotel tower became the second tallest building in the world in 2012, surpassing Taiwan's Taipei 101, and is currently the third tallest building in the world, surpassed only by Dubai's Burj Khalifa and Shanghai's Shanghai Tower. The building complex is metres away from the world's 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.[1] The complex was built after the demolition[2] of the Ajyad Fortress, the 18th century Ottoman citadel which stood atop a hill overlooking the Grand Mosque. The destruction of the fort in 2002 by the Saudi government sparked Turkish and international outcry

The tallest tower in the complex stands as the tallest building in Saudi Arabia, with a height of 601 metres (1,972 feet). Currently it is the third tallest freestanding structure in the world, surpassing Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan. The structure had surpassed Dubai International Airport in having the largest floor area of any structure in the world with 1,500,000 m2 (16,150,000 sq ft) of floorspace, but is now second, after the 1,700,000 m2 (18,300,000 sq ft) New Century Global Centre in Chengdu, China. The site of the complex is located across the street to the south from an entrance to the Masjid al Haram mosque, which houses the Kaaba. To accommodate worshipers visiting the Kaaba, the Abraj Al-Bait Towers has a large prayer room capable of holding more than 10,000 people. The tallest tower in the complex also contains a five-star hotel, operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, to help provide lodging for the millions of pilgrims that travel to Mecca annually to participate in the Hajj.

In addition, the Abraj Al-Bait Towers has a 20-storey shopping mall (the Abraj Al Bait Mall) and a parking garage capable of holding over a thousand vehicles. Residential towers house permanent residents while two heliports and a conference center are to accommodate business travelers. In total, up to 100,000 people could be housed inside the towers.[citation needed] The project uses clock faces for each side of the hotel tower. The highest residential floor stands at 450 metres (1,480 feet), just below the spires. The clock faces are 43 m × 43 m (141 ft × 141 ft), the largest in the world. The roof of the clocks is 530 metres (1,740 feet) above the ground, making them the world's most elevated architectural clocks. A 71-metre-tall spire (233 ft) has been added on top of the clock giving it a total height of 601 metres (1,972 feet), which makes it the second tallest building in the world, surpassing Taipei 101 in Taiwan. The tower also includes an Islamic Museum and a Lunar Observation Center which will also be used to sight the moon during the Holy Months.[4]
The building was planned to be 734 metres tall in 2006. In 2009, it was published that the final height will be 601 metres. The complex was built by the Saudi Binladin Group, Saudi Arabia's largest construction company. The clock tower (from a height of 450m up until the tip) was designed by the German architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch and his firm SL Rasch GmbH .[5] The facade was constructed by Premiere Composite Technologies, the clock by German tower clock manufacturer PERROT GmbH & Co. KG Turmuhren und Läuteanlagen .[6] According to the Saudi Ministry of Religious Endowments, the project cost US$15 billion.[7]
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