The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world - until it wasn't. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world today - until someone, someday builds an even bigger one. In fact, the world was meant to have a taller tower by now. On 17 January 2018, CNN ran an article stating the glittering computer rendered pictures of the future Jeddar Tower would "soon be known as the world's next tallest building rising from the desert."

But since then construction has stalled. So will the kilometer tall Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia ever be the world's tallest tower? If completed, it will have the tallest observation deck in the world, currently, the tallest tower and height observation deck is the Burj Khalifa.


The Plans For The Jeddah Tower

The Jeddah Tower is meant to be the centerpiece and the first phase of a massive development work that would be a gleaming tourist attraction called Jeddah Economic City.

Formally the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia was closed to tourists (but not to Muslims going on the hajj). In recent years, Saudi Arabia has flung open its doors and now everyone can visit this once largely closed-off kingdom.

  • Planned Height: First To Break One Kilometer (1,000 meters or 3,280 feet)
  • Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Previous Name: Kingdom Tower
  • Architect: Designed By American Architect Ardian Smith (Who Also Designed The Burj Khalifa)

The Jeddah Tower is meant to feature homes, hotels, and offices - as well as a range of tourist attractions.

Today as one looks at images of the partial construction monster tower, one will see nothing but desert. But on completion, the tower would be the center of a gleaming new development.

Planned Features For the World's Tallest Tower

The plan is for the tower to have the world's highest observation deck some 2,178 feet or 664 meters above the ground.

  • Gross Floor Area: 2.6 Million Square Feet (243,866 Square Meters)
  • Stories: Over 252 Stories

It is planned to have a five-star Four Seasons Hotel, 97 affiliated serviced apartments, four "residential tiers" that will include 325 apartments.

The elevators were planned to reach record heights of 2,165 feet or 660 meters. They were planned to travel at a brisk 12.5 miles per hour and be able to shuttle guests up to the 157th floor in just 66.5 seconds.

Related: How To Visit Toronto's Massive CN Tower With Its Commanding Views

Halt In Construction

When CNN visited the site at the end of 2017 just before they published their article, it was already 252 meters or 826 feet high and already had impressive expansive views of the desert kingdom. But sometime that month in January 2018 the construction of the tower was halted and has not resumed since.

As of the time of writing the massive skyscraper's construction remains on hold.

  • Status: Partially Constructed, Construction Stalled, Future Uncertain
  • Planned Completion: Previously Planned to Be Completed by 2020

Construction has reportedly halted due to labor issues and the political machinations that when on in Saudi Arabia between 2017 and 2019. Two of the project's most prominent backers were caught up in the kingdom's anti-corruption purge.

This was known at the time of the CNN article in January 2018, but it was reported that despite that, the project would be completed by 2020. Days or weeks later the project was stalled.

The project actually got off to a rocky start with various delays since construction began in 2013. But in 2017 it looked like all the challenges had been overcome and it was plain sailing.

Related: How Visiting The Eiffel Tower Has Changed In The Last 30 Years (In 13 Pictures)

An Uncertain Future

Recently (November 2021), the BBC asked the question, Does the skyscraper still have a future? They note that China has restricted the construction of very tall buildings and has called them "vanity projects".

The BBC also noted that offices around the world are filled with empty desks. That being said eight of the 10 tallest buildings now under construction are in China.

  • Asia's Share: Over Half Of The World's 100 tallest Skyscrapers are in Asia

As at the time of writing there don't seem to be any updates on when the construction of the Jeddah Tower will resume - or indeed if it will at all. It seems that the project has gotten mixed up with the politics of the kingdom. Time will tell what shakes out.

  • When Will Construction Resume?: No One Seems To Know

The engineering group behind the tower, Thornton Tomasetti seems to be confident that the tower will be finally realized. Despite the pause in construct they still confidently proclaim:

"Rising out of the desert at an expected construction cost of $1.2 billion, Jeddah Tower will offer a luxury hotel, serviced apartments, and condominiums, as well as prestigious office space. The 530,000-square-meter (5.7 million-square-foot) tower will anchor Kingdom City, a new $20-billion multi-use urban development."

Next: The Empire State Building: Why Its Story Will Make You Want To Take The Tour