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The Saudi Binladin Group, a multinational construction conglomerate and holding company for the assets owned by the bin Laden family, headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will complete construction of the second tallest building the World next month. The Makkah Clock Royal Tower is a Fairmont Hotel that will be the focal point of the iconic Abraj Al Bait Complex, part of the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project whose mandate is to upgrade the precincts of the Two Holy Mosques. Upon completion, the tallest tower in the complex would stand as the tallest building in Saudi Arabia, and the tallest and largest hotel in the world. The hotel is scheduled to be complete in September 2010 and will feature 858 elegantly appointed guest rooms and Fairmont Gold, an exclusive ‘hotel within a hotel’ product. At 577 meters high, this 76 story hotel will be among the world’s tallest structures and its unique and distinctive features will ensure a landmark presence in the Holy City. This includes a 40 meter clock, visible from 17 kilometers away, which will announce daily prayers to the Muslim world, while the Lunar Observation Center and Islamic Museum will serve to protect the heritage for future generations.

The Saudi Binladin Group was founded in 1931 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Laden Sayyid, whose relationship with the country’s founder, Abdel Aziz al Saud, led to important government contracts such as refurbishing the shrines at Mecca and Medina. Mohammed, who overall had 22 wives and 53 children, is also the father of Osama Bin Laden.

Upon completion, the structure would have the largest floor area of any structure in the world with 1,500,000 m2 (16,150,000 sq ft) of floorspace. This is the same as Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, in the United Arab Emirates which is the current record holder. It will also surpass the Emirates Park Towers in Dubai as the world’s tallest hotel.

The site of the complex is located across the street to the south from an entrance to the Masjid al Haram, which houses the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam. In order to start construction, the historic Ottoman Ajyad Fortress had to be first completely demolished. To accommodate worshipers who visit the Kaaba, the Abraj Al-Bait Towers will have a large prayer room capable of holding nearly ten thousand people. The tallest tower in the complex will also contain a seven-star hotel to help provide lodging for the over five million pilgrims who travel to Mecca annually to participate in hajj.

In total, up to 100,000 people would be housed inside the towers. The project will use clock faces for each side of the hotel tower. The highest residential floor will be at 450 m (1,480 ft), just below the clocks. The clock faces will be 43 43 m (141 141 ft), the largest in the world. The roof of the clocks will be 530 m (1,740 ft) high up, making them the world’s most elevated architectural clocks. A 61 m (200 ft) tall spire will be added on top of the clock giving it a total height of 601 m (1,972 ft), which will make it the second tallest building in the world when completed.

For more than a century, a point on the top of a hill in south-east London has been recognised as the centre of world time and the official starting point of each new day. But now the supremacy of Greenwich Mean Time is being challenged by a gargantuan new clock being built in Mecca, by which the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims could soon be setting their watches.

Due to start ticking on Thursday as the faithful begin fasting during the month of Ramadan, the timepiece sits atop the Makkah Clock Royal Tower which dominates Islam’s holiest city. The clock’s four faces will be illuminated by 2million LED lights along with a huge Arabic script reading: “In the name of Allah”. Allah is the standard Arabic word for God. While the term is best known in the West for its use by Muslims as a reference to God, it is used by Arabs of all Abrahamic faiths, including Mizrahi Jews, Baha’is and Eastern Orthodox Christians, in reference to “God”. The clock will run on Arabia Standard Time which is three hours ahead of GMT.