Abraj Al Bait is a megatall building complex in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Below are the facts about Abraj Al Bait and some related information.
Abraj Al Bait, also commonly known as Mekkah Royal Clock Hotel Tower, which refers to the clock tower in the middle of the complex, the building is also informally called Mecca Clock Tower.
Abraj Al Bait is located at the central area of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Mecca is the holiest place for 1.7 billion Muslim, the building's exact location is also special, it's situated at a place that only 50 meters away from Islam's holiest site Kaaba, which surrounded by the Masjid al-Ḥarām (the Grand Mosque), the largest mosque in the world. For this special location the authorities even demolished a hill and a fort on it. Its unique location and height make it the city's new landmark.
From the following picture we can see how close is the clock tower from the Kabaa.
The Central Tower of the complex stands 601 meters tall and has 120 floors, by 2019 it's the 3rd tallest building among all the completed and topped out buildings around the world, after Burj Khalifa and Shanghai Tower, see World's tallest buildings in 2019 for details. The Clock Tower situated in the middle of the complex is 2 meters taller than Shenzhen's newly-built Ping An Finance Center, a tower looks very high. Even the crescent alone which attached at the peak of the tower contributes 23 meters to the height of the tower, approximately equals to a height of a 7-story-building.
The height of each of four clocks is 46 meters, the middle points of each clock faces are 430 meters high from the street level.
The highest habitable floor is at 450 meters.
The significant height of the tower makes it visible at some remote places as far as 17 kilometers away.
The most outstanding feature is not its height but also bulk. Abraj Al Bait has the most floor area among the skyscraper buildings in the world, it is composed of 7 individual towers with different heights, aside from the central clock tower, all the other shorter towers are over 230 meters, and the 2 beside the Middle Tower stand 280 meters. With all these giant buildings connected together, Abraj Al Bait appears very imposing and magnificent, far more majestic than Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs which operated by Government of Saudi Arabia is the owner of the Abraj Al Bait complex.
Mekkah Royal Clock Hotel Tower and the whole complex are not simply used as hotels, it also contains shopping mall, Islamic museum, residences and a considerable amount of area of religious spaces like prayer rooms, by which its location makes sense.
The buildings mainly used as hotels, which contain 858 suits, operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, a Canadian operator of 5-star luxury hotels, it operates more than 60 landmark luxury hotels in the world, such as Fairmont San Francisco and Shanghai Peace Hotel, which are all located in the central plots in the cities.
Among all 6 high-rise buildings of Abraj Al Bait, 4 of them are residential towers, containing a total of 864 residential units.
The first 5 floors at the bottom of the Clock tower are used as a shopping Mall, the layout and style of the mall is similar with the traditional shopping markets in Arabia world.
The hotel also features a conference center, including a series of meeting rooms, capable of holding about 1500 people. The hotel have two large prayer rooms for men and women relatively. There is a prayer room that can accommodate more than ten thousand people.
The parking garage of the building occupies 4 floors, capable of holding more than 1000 vehicles.
Aside from the park, there are 2 helipads on the roofs of Maqam and Qibla towers respectively, which are two podium buildings right beside the Central Clock Tower.
The initial purpose of building the Clock Tower is to use it as a well-marked clock for pilgrims to proofread time. The clock can broadcast the prayer to the believers through loudspeakers, the sound of messages can spread to seven kilometers away.
Inside the Central Clock Tower, there's a museum which features a collection of works of Islamic Art.
From the picture above we can see that Abraj Al Bait consists of seven separated high-rise buildings, roughly divided into front row and back row.
Look at front row, there are two symmetrical buildings, the one on the left is called Safa Tower, the right one is called Marwah Tower,
The back row: there are 5 buildings, from the left to the right are Maqam Tower, Hajar Tower, Mekkah Royal Clock Hotel Tower(Clock Tower), Zamzam Tower, Qibla Tower.
Below are some basic data of all these 7 buildings.
| Name of each building
||Height|| Floor count
|Mekkah Royal Clock Hotel Tower||601m||120||Hotels; Others|
|Maqam Tower||246m||61||Residential; Helipad|
|Qibla Tower||246m||61||Residential; Helipad|
Design and Development
As the population of Muslim around the world keeps growing, and with the improvement of traffic, more and more Muslim are making pilgrimage to Mecca.
In response to more than ten million of annual tourists that is still growing, the government of Saudi Arabia decided to make a renovation to Mecca city, building a large number of hotels to provide accommodation for pilgrims. Abraj Al Bait was developed as a component of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project, the purpose is to increase the subordinate scope of the area of the Grand Mosque, as Abdullah the former King of Saudi Arabia had always been trying to change and improve the cityscape of Mecca.
Abraj Al Bait is designed by Dar Al-Handasah, an architecture firm from Lebanon, the building complex is designed with typical Islamic style. But to a large extend the appearance of the tower is influenced by renowned Big Ben Tower in London, but much more huge and mixed with Islamic elements.
The base of the whole complex covers an area of 34,794 square meters, the floor area of the building reaches up to 1.57 million square meters, could accommodate about 100 thousand people, by contrast Willis Tower in Chicago could only accommodate 20 thousand people. The clocks installed upon the upper portion of the middle tower are the largest clocks in the world, with the diameter of 46 meters.
The minute hand of the clock is as long as 22 meters. The center of the clock is 430 meters high from the ground, thus it is also the highest clock in the world on a building.
The construction of the project started in 2002, the complex was developed and contracted by Saudi Bin Laden Group, which is the largest construction group in Saudi Arabia, they are now constructing Jeddah Tower, which aimed to become the next tallest building in the world in 2020.
In order to make room for Abraj Al Bait, the government of the city shoveled a hill which was in the same location, along with a fortress on the hill overlooking the Grand Mosque, the fortress was built in 18th century, it was the remains of the Empire of Ottoman, the destruction of the fortress sparked controversy in some countries of Middle East.
The construction of the complex cost 15 billion dollars, funded by Saudi Ministry of Religious Endowment. As of 2019, it's still the most expensive building ever built in the world (details: The most expensive buildings in the world). Abraj Al Bait was completed in 2012.
Tourism and Sightseeing
A viewing platform is set at a point of the clock tower that 558m off the ground, right below the golden crescent, this is possibly the highest viewing platform based on building in the world, even higher than the one on Burj Khalifa, which is 555m high. Another open-air viewing platform is set at the bottom of the clock façade, 400m off the ground, there's also a exhibition hall inside the clock on the same level.
As mentioned Mecca is the holiest place in Islam, non-Muslim are not allowed to get into the city, one must say himself or herself is Muslim before entering the city to visit Abraj Al Bait.
Mecca is not a city that out with secular, there are lots of cafés and McDonald’s restaurants within the city, and some other signs also indicate that it is a modern city, including the hotel in Abraj Al Bait, 76 high speed elevators in the hotels are providing comfortable and convenient feeder service.
The fiber optic cable laying in the building is as long as ten thousand meters, enough to providing visitors with fast communications and internet services.