Kingdom Centre

If the Faisaliah Tower took the prize for being Riyadh’s first skyscraper, the Kingdom Centre (Al Mamlaka) took the crown soon afterward for being Riyadh’s tallest building.

Topped out in January 2001, Kingdom Centre reaches up 296 metres (984 ft) – virtually the same height as Paris’s Eiffel Tower; and conforming to the city’s planning ordinance that limits the number of occupied floors to 30, it incorporates a 65 metre sky bridge spanning the top. This sky bridge, which is known locally by a variety of names – ‘the necklace’ and ‘the bottle opener’, to mention just two - weighs 300 tons.

To reach it you have to take two elevator rides - the first taking about 50 seconds to reach 180 metres, and a second elevator taking 40 seconds to reach the top.

The Kingdom Centre was built on 94,230 square metres of land with a total built up area of 300,000 square metres. It cost SR1.717 million.

The building was designed by Omrania & Associates in association with Minneapolis architects Ellerbe Becket – the project of HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Sa’ud. El Seif were the main engineering contractors.

Bulk excavations of rock totalled 670,000 cubic metres and230,000 cubic metres of concrete were used in its construction.

There are 35 elevators, 22 escalators and car parking for 3,000 cars.

Clad in glass, it changes mood as the sun and clouds move across the sky, whilst at night time, the stunning lighting is complemented by the ever changing colours within the ‘bottle opener’.

Visitors to the capital during the holy month of Ramadhan are treated to an even more spectacular display of night-time lighting over the face of the Kingdom.

The 15th to the 24th floors of the tower are given up to the Four Seasons Hotel with its 249 guest rooms and there are 14 floors of offices – the rest being devoted to high-rise luxury apartments.

At its base is an enormous 625,000 square ft. retail complex, featuring the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue and Debenhams, together with a variety of designer boutiques; and there is also a children’s care centre where parents can leave their kids whilst wandering around the shops. The entire third floor is segregated for women’s shopping only, where men are banned and ladies can walk around in an abaya-free zone. Here, the fashion outlets provide changing rooms where women can try before they buy.

As you can see the Kingdom Centre from well over 30kms away and from virtually every part of the city, you will have no difficulty finding it at its location on the intersections of Al Orouba Street with King Fahd Highway and Olaya Street.

The hotel entrance is on the south side: 24 42.6’ N, 46 40.5’ E whilst the main entrance to the shopping mall is on Olaya Street.

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