Friday, September 21, 2012

8. Kingdom Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Cost to build: US$458 million
Completion date: 2002
Fast fact: Ladies Kingdom claims to have "almost every thing a female would need" -- even a ladies’ bank and a ladies' mosque.

Some observers have drawn a connection between the Kingdom Center and a shovel stuck in the sand; a somewhat misplaced comparison for the tallest building in Saudi Arabia. But get this: Riyadh building code forbids any building with more than 30 usable floors, but doesn’t impose height restrictions. So, thanks to the big void in the new Saudi Arabian icon, only 30 floors are used for normal purposes. It features an area offering a refreshing break from usual social norms in the region, with a shopping mall that includes a female-only "Ladies Kingdom," an entire floor designated for women to shop freely without needing to be covered.

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