Unique Skyscraper Opened in Saudi Capital

Published May 14th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Saudi Arabia's first skyscraper was due to be officially opened in the capital, Riyadh, on Sunday, reported bbc.online the same day.  

After decades of expanding outwards, Riyadh has now shot up into the air, BBC said.  

At 267m high, the gently curving profile of the Faisaliah tower is visible from almost anywhere in the city of four million.  

From a distance, the British-designed tower resembles the nib of a fountain pen.  

It took three years to complete, and uses some unusual methods of combating the desert heat of more than 50°C (120°F).  

"This building is unique. Its shape is unused anywhere else in the world. It has almost a total transparency both from outside and inside and it has a very economical form of structure, of glazing, to provide a commercial building that is unique throughout the world," said Peter de Boeck, from the British engineering firm of Buro Happoid.  

Because of the immense summer heat, the designers have had to build in an ice storage system.  

To save electricity, it makes up to 50 tons of ice at night, then melts it during the day to cool the building.  

Just below the summit there is a huge, golden globe, an observation deck over the villas, streets and marketplaces of Riyadh.  

Down in the carpet souk there are still residents who can remember life before concrete.  

Riyadh today is a city of motorways, flyovers, and low-rise commercial development - a city that even some Saudis say has no soul, said the report.  

But for the first time, residents of this desert capital have a landmark, a focal point.  

And the Faisaliah Tower is also bringing the world closer to Riyadh.  

Beneath the tower lies the newly opened Faisaliah Shopping Centre. In a country where most public entertainment is banned, shopping is the next best thing.  

From their trips abroad, Saudis have acquired sophisticated tastes.  

But here in Riyadh this mall and its designer restaurant offers residents a whole evening out - exactly what its brainchild, Prince Bandar Bin Saud from the King Faisal Foundation charity, had in mind – Albawaba.com  





© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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