Tony worked across Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Al-Khobar, and Jeddah, where he met his wife, who has worked there for 12 years.
World's Tallest Clock Tower in Makkah (Mecca)
The Makkah Clock Royal Tower is the third tallest building in the world and the biggest clock tower, now standing at 601 meters high it is 83 meters taller than the Taipei Tower in Taiwan but still shorter than the Burj Dubai (or Burj Khalifa) which stands at a huge 828 meters.
Some sites are claiming that this iconic skyscraper was completed in 2012, however with all previous dates missed and work still ongoing I think these claims were a little premature! After all they had a huge party to celebrate the clock tower becoming operational but we have yet to see any announcement or celebration for the completion of the towers themselves. Maybe they were embarrassed by all of the delays!
The Mecca Clock tower is part of the Abaj Al-Bait (or Al-Bayt) project just 50M in front of the Grand Mosque in Makkah (Mecca), the site that all Muslims must face to pray 5 times per day, their holiest of shrines. The clock tower itself will be used for the call to prayer within the city of Makkah or Mecca.
The Clock will be lit and visible from around 17 kilometers away at night and up to 12 km during the day, the Clock is six times the size of Big Ben's clock.
If you are an expat working in Saudi Arabia or someone wishing to visit this truly awe inspiring building then be warned, unless you are a Muslim you will be unable to enter the holy city. The roads into this area are dotted with checkpoints to ensure that only the faithful enter. I once got lost trying to navigate past and stopped at the checkpoint into Makkah, I was forced back into my car at gunpoint and sent on my way without directions by these humble, helpful, forgiving people.
Going to Makkah
If you want to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia either for work or to visit this iconic building then this guide to Saudi Visas may be of help.
Rules to follow in Makkah
There are many rules and regulations that you need to be aware of in Saudi Arabia, not following them could very quickly get you into serious trouble; read this about working in Saudi Arabia to keep you on the right side of Saudi traditions and laws.
Makkah Clock Royal Tower Completion
Well we are now moving through 2015 and the building work does now seem on the whole complete, previous dates in 2010 and 2011 and 2012 have all passed without any formal announcement.
As with all other projects in the region it has been plagued with many delays and has even had three fires within the towers the latest only being in march of 2011.
The building has however reached its full height of some 601M which is far shorter than the originally planned 734M.
They were to have the clock up and running during Ramadan 2010 but failed to do so and things have gone very quiet! The clock itself was finally inaugurated in 2011 finally during Eid with a massive party and fireworks display.
I was looking forward to the opening party as I am sure it will be huge (if they have one), but unfortunately I will have to watch the video afterwards as I am not Muslim so I will not be able to enter the Holy city.
Some websites have reported that the building was completed within 2012 however I have not seen any official announcement to that effect and there certainly has not yet been any party to celebrate the completion of the Makkah Royal Clock Tower. I think maybe there has been some embarrassment due to the many delays so they have i think just kept with the inauguration of the clock to minimize any poor publicity.
Inaugaration of the Makkah Clock
Satelite View of Makkah Clock Tower
Views of the Makkah Royal Clock Tower
Abrj Al-Bait Development and the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project
The Abrj Al-Bait project is one of the world's biggest development projects covering over 1.4 million square meters. It will have over 6000 units of housing and have seven towers forming the central area. The Abrj Al-Bait towers will house a 3000 room hotel complex, most of the rooms overlooking the Haram with views of the holy Kaaba. Construction firms such as Saudi's Bin-Laden group are involved in this massive project which they claim can house some 100,000 people.
The development also contains a prayer room which will accommodate some 10,000 Muslims for prayer.
There are some 500 food and retail outlets within the development to keep most people busy on a minor shopping spree inside their 5 storey shopping mall.
Makkah Clock Tower Vs Big Ben
Makkah Clock Royal Tower Hotel - The Fairmont Makkah
The central tower houses the worlds tallest hotel, the Fairmont Makkah, or the Makkah Clock Royal Tower Hotel.Standing 601 meters tall with 76 stories of hotel it will be the central part of the Abj Al-Bait complex. It will replace the 333 meter Rose Rayhaan in Dubai as the worlds tallest hotel, the Rose having only been opened at the start of 2010.
The Fairmont Makkah, now operational, has 858 rooms serviced by 76 elevators and is available for any muslims visiting the Kabah or the historic town of Mecca. You can check them out on Facebook also.
The Clock Faces of Makka Clock Tower
The Makkah Clock
The Clock Faces will sit at a height of 380 Meters on all sides of the royal tower and be visible from up to 17km during the night. The two largest faces will be 80m by 65m with an actual clock face of 39M Diameter. The "smaller" two faces being 65m by 39m with a clock face of 25m diameter. Designed by Swiss engineering firm Straintec the clock will be the biggest in the world.
Each Clock Face will bear the Name of Allah and an Observation platform will be sited just 5m below each face served by two lifts.
The clock faces are lit with a huge array of lights ensuring that they are visible during the hours of darkness.
Putting The Hands on The Mecca Clock Tower
View from the Makkah Clock Tower, The Biggest Clock Tower in the World
Lunar Observatory and Islamic Museum at the Makkah Clock Royal Tower
In addition to the worlds largest clock tower to call all muslims to prayer the development will also boast a lunar observation center which will be used for sighting the moon for holy months, and an Islamic Museum to protect the heritage of Muslims for future generations.
The Tower will be equipped to shoot 16 beams of light 10km into the night sky on special occasions.
View of the Makkah Clock Royal Tower
Makkah Time vs Greenwich Mean Time at the Clock Royal Tower
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) has long been the time the time standard that we have all set out clocks to, however the Islamic scholars are now stating that as Makkah is the true center of the world we should all move over to "Makkah Time".
So watch this space to see if the worlds tallest clock tower also becomes the time keeper for the whole world!
Makkah Clock Tower Views
Makkah Clock Royal Tower Construction and Views
Location of Makkah Saudi Arabia
Working on the Makkah Clock Tower
If you would like to work on projects such as this massive tower in Makkah then this guide to finding work in Saudi Arabia will be of help.
Is Makkah now just for the Rich?
With the construction of the Makkah Royal Clock Tower reaching completion there are voices being raised about how this development and others within the city are trying to profit from their religion. The rentals within the new mall are claimed to be exorbitant and I know for a fact that the costs of apartments within the clock tower itself are huge compared to any other development in the kingdom.
People are claiming that the divide between rich and poor within the kingdom and the religion is growing due to the government and the developers trying to profit from the annual pilgrimages to this holy city. They fear that these developments will prevent the poorer elements from ever being able to visit!
Makkah Clock Royal Tower
If you have strong feelings either way please feel free to leave a comment below about the Makkah Clock Royal tower.
More Saudi Arabia Information when visiting the Makkah Clock Tower
If you are considering visiting the Makkah Royal Clock Tower firstly you had best be a Muslim as only the faithful are allowed to enter the holy city and secondly you had best be prepared for the very different way of life that you are going to encounter.
Saudi Arabia is unlike any other country in the world, the weather is extreme and the rules and culture are completely alien to many of us. Before you consider traveling you should do your research and prepare yourself for what you will encounter there in KSA. Take the time to read this Expatriate guide for Saudi Arabia even if you are going on pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj.)
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 01, 2014:
HI Anonymous, you are not the only one who feels like this about the clock tower in Mecca. Certainly looking at the poll in the article above it is very much 50/50 regarding whether the tower should have been built at all.
Anonymous on April 30, 2014:
Thank you for your article? However i can see the appeal for all non Muslims in the trivial aspects of the projects such as height, cost, design etc. But in my any persons who value the and holiness of all places sacred and timeless, of which no doubt Mecca tops the chart, would have to detest with anger at such a bold statement of capitalistic vulgarity. I say this in terms of it's inappropriateness of the location and purpose? It dwarf's the holy sanctuary, were the faithful from around the world have spent probably there entire life saving's on this once in a life journey to escape from materialistic and selfish ambitions and to be one with humanity and God.
In my opinion these much hated Saudi Kings, have violated the sanctity of the area, with this monstrosity, and need to justify with very good reason the waste of Saudi oil money on this folly. The fact that the buildings will house commercial companies ie a mall, again reiterates what i said earlier, that it is inappropriate and sacrilegious. The house ie Kabba is very old and dates back into the ancient, of the time of Abraham. I personally would like to see the Saudi Kings be guilty of treason to the billions of Muslims and be served capital punishment like they did Saddam. They are not even a legitimate authority and waste and ruin the Saudi economy.
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 25, 2014:
Nice to see that you have your eyes wide open and that you have managed to miss all of the corruption in Saudi Arabia. The clock tower in Saudi Arabia is a great looking building but whether or not it is suitable for the location is debatable.
As to having to be a Muslim to visit, well I personally have no problems with that.
shakil shaikh on February 25, 2014:
Add Your Comment.. subhan allah it is gr8 saudi is a corruption free country so it makes clock tower king never misuse of money if non muslim want to visit holy city so become muslim
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 29, 2013:
Yes I was taken to look for Eve's tomb several years back by a friend who lives there in Jeddah only to find that we could not get to it. Not many people realize that Jeddah receives it's name from "Grandmother" Eve and the historical and biblical connections.
Having been involved in the construction industry around Jeddah for a few years and in bids for work on this massive addition to the city we have been discussing the "mile high" tower for sometime and the name has very much stuck even if the ambition is going to be reduced to a height still over 1km. But the "kilometer high tower" just does not sound as good or roll off the tongue as well as the "mile high tower."
Abdullah on September 27, 2013:
Yea sure, but im referrin to the other projects, the tawaf "around the kaaba" now looks like somethin from star trek, the Jamarat look like a huge parkin lot,,,expansions of the grand mosque effaced many sites of histoeical value, one is Mohammeds home in Mekkah. The salafists hold a strong rejectionist view of ornamentation, imagery, etc. makin the same arguments made by christian scholars in the 500's, but worse. In jeddah too, they effaced Eves tomb in Eves cemetery downtown which was an attraction, which gave the cityits name. I think if u accept their premise, then u kina respect their "intellectuali integrity", destructive as it maybe.
Bad news regardin the one-mile tower; geological surveys for the project showed tht the ground in the area or most areas here cannot support tht much weight so last time i checked, the height is brought down to over 1 km, final height not disclosed. U gotta appreciate the ambition though, wantin to build a sky scraper twice the height of the record holder....
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 27, 2013:
I can see the need for accommodating so many people, but the Makkah clock tower is hardly aimed at the "average" pilgrim. It is very expensive indeed.
As you say there is a huge amount of construction going on in the kingdom and I too am looking forward to them starting on the mile high tower in Jeddah.
Abdullah on September 26, 2013:
O yea, i love these projects...im all forem. Yes, maintainin some heritage would be nice, but id say build and and keep the economy goin. The clock tower is now an architecural reference, being the only cement tower to be tht high; sky scrapers are built with a curtain of glass as the exterior so as not to weigh down the skeleton....so yea highest solid buildin in the world, thts awesome.
Abdullah on September 26, 2013:
It's great, i went up on the crescent once, super high, was sweating and shaking the entire time. Surpassed only by burj Khalifa and the Tokyo skytree as higher constructions. I know a friend who took an "infidel" in twice. This whole "muslims only" is a hyperbole, but the laws are there, so don risk it.
These constructions have stripped Mekkah and Medina and their holy sites of any spirituality and architectural heritage, these two cities received special care for 1400 years. Before the house of Saud took over, they had their own unique architecture and many historical sites,which pissed off the turks and the Ashraf "ruled the holy sites". For example the clock tower project was built on an Ottoman fortress built in 1780 i think, which caused a diplomatic crisis early 2000's. Although havin lived here, i understand the rationale. For the Salafists these things don have value, they're very pragmatic and literalist, so the priority is to accommodate as many people as possible safely, and why not profit, after all religious tourism makes up the second biggest source of revenu in the kingdom.
Anyways, im also lookin forward to the Kingdom tower in Jeddah tht should be over 1 km high, designed by Adrian Smith built by Eemar, like burj khalifa. Theres so manymega projects in the country,,, finally. The Riyadh metro (84 billion RS), Kingdom City in Obhur, King Abdullah economic city, Riyadhs financial district...trains...airports ..... finally....
tower man on June 03, 2013:
love it better tower next to holy haram
Moiz on August 12, 2012:
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 30, 2012:
I look forward to the start of the tower in Jeddah, it will certainly be something to look at I am sure.
Fatima on July 29, 2012:
Well, if Jeddah's mile high tower is going to break all records, then the Saudis know better for building the Makkah Clock Royal Tower.
Well, why look at the people ? Why not the religion and it's teachings ? I could suggest a website if u r interested.
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 26, 2012:
Hi Fatima, many people seem to share your opinion regarding the clock tower there in Makkah. But of course Jeddah will soon be seeing the new "mile high" tower.
As to converting I would need a lot of persuasion to join ANY religion the way that some people use religions.
Fatima on July 26, 2012:
In my humble opinion, Makkah did not need any landmark because the Kaabah is already there. It should have been built in Jeddah rather than Makkah.
And Mr. Leanman, there are a thousand reasons to revert to Islam if u get the right guidance and practicing Muslims around u
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 11, 2012:
Thank you for reading A Almazrouei, please give us your impressions of the clock tower after you have visited also.
A-Almazrouei on July 11, 2012:
I will travel to Mecca after 12 days
I love Mecca
I love this great bulding its a Mircle.
I love Mecca when Muslims come all over the world, its be crowded.
I love when Al sudais say " Allah Akbar " billion of Muslims stand in one minute to say the pray.
Its really a mircle.
Thank you for your report.
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 20, 2012:
Hi fazrin, no one has given me a good reason for accepting Islam or any other religion.
fazrin on June 13, 2012:
hi, lean man y dont u accept islam ,thank you very much for watchinh this,,
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 06, 2012:
Hi Jackkk, I guess from the tone of this comment that you are one of those that does not like the Makkah clock tower and all of the associated complex.
jackkk on June 06, 2012:
Oh! And sorry LeanMan, I forgot to thank you for your article and for being so open-minded (I can see this in the comments) God bless you.
jackkk on June 06, 2012:
Hi. I'm muslim and I think this building is the most bloody awful and atrocious building I have never seen... in the most holy place in the earth.
These fraudulous najdi peasant "kings" don't know nothing about art and style. Moreover they practise a BORGIA/MEDICIS version of PROTESTANT WAHHABI ISLAM.
The blessed prophet peace be upon him said that it's a sign of the end of history :
"When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah. " (Sahih Bukhari) (Note that the 2 tallest buildings in the world belong to Najdis ex-black camel shepherd which made a fortune in petrodollars: Burj Khalifa in Dubai and this one)
I pray Allah to deliver Hijaz and the Holy mosques of this fraudulous Zionist-Saudi-bling-bling tyranny.
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 29, 2012:
Hi Mohammed, thanks for the offer, next time I am in the area I may take you up on your offer.
Mohammmed on May 29, 2012:
Come to Saudi and I will escort you to that building without any problems. You're not the first christian to be there nor the last one.
Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 14, 2012:
Thanks for your comments Asif, Maybe allowing non-Muslims into places like this would get more to convert your faith. I would have loved to come and see this magnificent building and of course the other sights within Makkah.
ASIF on May 14, 2012:
AWESOME PICTURES GREAT SIGHT....BUT TRUTH TO BE TOLD IT WAS A HOLY PLACE FOR US LONG BEFORE ALL THESE GLAMOUR AND ISLAM TEACHES US NOT TO SIT ON DINNER TABLE BEFORE MAKING SURE YOUR NEIGHBOURS ARE FEED ALL THESE SPENDID AND THERE ARE PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD WHO COULD USE THIS MONEY TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE...........LEANMAN I FEEL EMBARESSED THAT THEY DON ALLOW NON MUSLIMS TO GO THERE...THAT'S NOT VERY ISALmic...PEACE BE UPON YOU BROTHER
curious one on April 19, 2012:
Interesting building but the comments about the centre of the world are providing much humour for the aliens looking down upon this odd race of humans. Ignorance and blind faith will be the death of our existence.
Immy on March 26, 2012:
I agree with Lean Man. I am a muslim and travelling to Mecca this week. I've been reading and looking at pictures of this clock tower but there is a sticking point.. The tower overshadows the bigger attraction of the holy mosque. In all its grandeur, and world records, lets hope it doesn't. In Medina, the buildings around the are pretty much the same size so not to obscure the view too much of the prophets mosque. Excellent photos and write up though Lean Man.
RAMIZ ANSARI from Pakistan on March 15, 2012:
It really is Nice and Thnx for Sharing LeanMan
Ramiz Ahmed on March 15, 2012:
Really Nice Collection and Thnx For Sharing LeanMan
badshah sultan on March 04, 2012:
that's the fantastic and these seem amazing wow! great
inamullah on February 29, 2012:
Subhanalla the great muslims and great tower for muslims ummah. we can say just ALLAH is the greatest no one as Allah anywhere so say all ... ALLAH AKBAR ,,,,