The View From Above

IssueQ4 by Kaija Wilkinson Print

Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Executive Director Dr. Antony Wood visited Dubai and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in May to explore the possibility of a CTBUH Conference in the Middle East in 2018. While there, he toured potential venues and was treated by his hosts to a Seawings flight over Dubai; a tour of that city’s iconic, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab; and, in Jeddah, tours of under-construction buildings Bayat Plaza, the 48-story Golden Tower and the world’s future tallest building, the 1,000-m-plus-tall Jeddah Tower.

It was at Jeddah Tower that Wood saw the bustling construction activity firsthand and took in views few others get to see. After traveling to the current tower core (at the time at level 56, approximately 10 floors above construction and 252 m from the ground), he and his hosts were lowered in a materials hoist attached at a single point to a crane. The hoist had a grated floor and exposed walls, providing spectacular views of the planned Jeddah Economic City on

5.3 million m2 north of the historic heart of the city. Wood’s excitement was clear in a video CTBUH posted in which he said he has never before had such an experience and joked that he “feels like [he] is at the start of a rollercoaster ride.”

From level 56, Jeddah Tower’s distinctive Y-shaped wings were clearly visible, as well as the sheer scale of Jeddah Economic City. CTBUH noted:

“Amazingly, the tower is only at a quarter of its full height. However, due to its location outside the city center, it already looms above everything else on the horizon. Jeddah Tower is being built as the anchor to Jeddah Economic City. The first phase of development comprises 1.55 million m2 that will be built following completion of the tower. Although the tower rises out of the desert now, it is not hard to imagine the fully realized city that will accompany its completion.”

Developer Jeddah Economic Co. (JEC) sponsored Wood’s trip to Jeddah, and general contractor Saudi Binladen Group (SBG) facilitated the tower tour. SBG Senior Project Director Jabil Batrawi and Projects Coordinator Hani Kabrit, along with SBG colleagues, were onsite to welcome Wood and lead him through the building.

Also while in Jeddah, Wood met with JEC CEO and CTBUH Trustee Mounib Hammoud at JEC’s headquarters, where they discussed the possibility of a CTBUH conference. CTBUH observed that “Hammoud expressed support for the event, which would be the council’s first conference in the region since the 8th World Congress in Dubai in 2008.”

The entire 10-day trip was made at the behest of the Dubai Department of Tourism. Besides skyscraper and venue tours, Wood chaired a steering committee meeting with local CTBUH members hosted by the Dubai World Trade Center at the top of its eponymous skyscraper, the first in Dubai, built in 1979. CTBUH reports more than 30 members attended, nearly a quarter of whom previously attended the 8th World Conference. “As such,” CTBUH stated, “proposed plans for another conference in the region were received with enthusiasm from all in attendance.” CTBUH tells ELEVATOR WORLD it is still considering a Middle East conference and will keep EW posted when a firm decision is made. 🌐