The images above show what will soon be known as the tallest skyscraper in the world. When the 1,000-meter high Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia opens in 2020, it will oust the iconic Burj Khalifa of Dubai as the tallest skyscraper in the world by a 72-meter difference. It is estimated that the construction of this work will cost 1,400 million dollars.
When CNN visited the site at the end of 2017, the tower was 252 meters high and already offered an extensive view of the Saudi kingdom.
The building will be the jewel in the crown of Jeddah Economic City, a commercial and residential project of 5.3 million square meters, which will feature homes, hotels and offices, as well as tourist attractions.
But the project has not been easy.
There have been several delays since construction began in 2013. Since November 2017, two of the project's most prominent sponsors, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, investor and entrepreneur, and Bakr Bin Laden, president of Jeddah Bin Laden Group , the company in charge of building the skyscraper, have been identified in the anti-corruption purge undertaken by the kingdom, where hundreds of people have been accused of corruption.
However, Jeddah Economic Company, the developer behind the skyscraper, has confirmed to CNN that the project will be completed in 2020, as scheduled.
The company of Al-Waleed declined to comment for CNN, and Bin Laden Group could not be contacted.
A world reference
Although the site is now surrounded by desert, when completed the tower will be the center of the Jeddah Economic City complex, the economic city of Jeddah.
"By 2020, several things will be ready: the skyscraper, the mall and many other projects," says Mounib Hammoud, CEO of Jeddah Economic Company.
With a constructed area of 243,866 square meters in 252 floors, the tower will also have the highest viewpoint or viewing platform in the world at 664 meters above ground, with a space of 500 square meters outdoors.
It will also house a five-star Four Seasons hotel and 97 apartments, including seven duplexes. The offices will have seven floors, where there will be four "residential levels" that will include 325 apartments.
The elevators will reach a record height of 660 meters, while the two-story elevators that take visitors directly to the lookout from Level 1 of the building can travel at 20 kilometers per hour. In other words, the guests will take 66.5 seconds to reach the viewpoint, located on floors 157 and 158.
"When you first arrive at the tower, you are already 20 meters above sea level," explains Jomah. "Therefore, each floor is a different experience in that building."
The developers believe that the Jeddah Tower will transform the area, which has traditionally served as the gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
"Before the skyscraper, this was not considered a place where people would live," says Hisham Jomah, development director of Jeddah Economic Company. "We are creating an independent city ... so you do not have to leave here," he adds. "The mentality of Jeddah is changing."
"Building a building of this kind, of this grandeur, is really something I would have never imagined," says Hammoud.
"Jeddah is going to position itself in the international scene of modern cities," he adds. "They are talking about the center of Dubai, and now we are going to have the center of Jeddah."
Power on the rise
The construction of the Jeddah Tower fits into the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, a government initiative that seeks to diversify the kingdom's economy and reduce its dependence on oil.
"Vision 2030 is the development strategy of the project ... this is the instruction we have given architects and planners," explains Hammoud.
The ultimate goal is to boost the status of the city as a global power.
"The Egyptians built the pyramids, they built all those huge cathedrals and churches in medieval France, and in modern times they built New York, Chicago, so in reality it's a show of strength and ingenuity," he says. "As in all cities: after money, after power, you want strength."
"After the force, you want to found something, leave something for the world, and today, Jeddah will have a building that many generations will talk about".