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The Mideast

Bin Laden Family Poised to Build World's Tallest Building in Saudi Arabia

The record for the world's tallest building is set to be broken yet again -- this time by the bin Laden family.

The Kingdom Tower will measure at least 3,280 feet high and will be located in Saudi Arabia, where it will outdo its Gulf neighbor Dubai, which inaugurated its own record-breaking skyscraper -- the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa -- less than two years ago. The tower's final height remains a closely guarded secret, though it will be at least 568 feet taller than the $1.5 billion Burj Khalifa.

The Saudis have awarded more than $1 billion in contracts for the tower, which will have a Four Seasons hotel, apartments, luxury condominiums and the world's highest observatory. The structure also will feature 59 elevators and 12 escalators.

Kingdom Holding Co., the investment firm headed by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said it signed a $1 billion deal with the Saudi bin Laden Group to build Kingdom Tower on the outskirts of the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The Saudi construction giant is owned by the family of Usama bin Laden, which disavowed the late Al Qaeda terror boss years ago.

"We intend Kingdom Tower to become both an economic engine and a proud symbol of the Kingdom's economic and cultural stature in the world community,'' said Talal Al Maiman, a board member of KHC and the Jeddah Economic Co, a KHC-affiliate that signed the deal with the bin Laden Group. "We envision Kingdom Tower as a new iconic marker of Jeddah's historic importance as the traditional gateway to the holy city of Mecca.''

The tower will be designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

"Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit in Saudi Arabia," Smith said in a statement. "This tower symbolizes the Kingdom as an important global business and cultural leader, and demonstrates the strength and creative vision of its people. It represents new growth and high-performance technology fused into one powerful iconic form."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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