The Abraj Al-Bait Towers also known as the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower is a complex under construction in Makkah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The building holds and will break several world records in the construction world, including: the tallest hotel in the world, constructed with the tallest clock tower in the world and displaying the world's largest clock face, the world's largest building floor area, and will become the second tallest building in the world upon completion, surpassed only by Dubai's Burj Khalifa. The building complex is meters away from the world's largest mosque and Islam's most sacred site, the Masjid al Haram.
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, with a planned height of 601 metres (1,972 feet). It is the fourth tallest building under construction. 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 also under construction. 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 mosque, which houses the Kaaba. In order to start construction, the historic Ottoman Ajyad Fortress had to be first completely demolished. To accommodate worshipers visiting 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 addition, the Abraj Al-Bait Towers will have a four-story shopping mall and a parking garage capable of holding over a thousand vehicles. Residential towers will house permanent residents while two heliports and a conference center are to accommodate business travelers. In total, up to 100,000 people could 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 metres (1,480 feet), 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 metres (1,740 feet) above the ground, making them the world's most elevated architectural clocks. A 71 metres (233 feet) tall spire will be added on top of the clock giving it a total height of 601 metres (1,972 feet), which will make it the second tallest building in the world when completed, surpassing Taipei 101 in Taiwan.
The tower will also include an Islamic Museum and a Lunar Observation Center which will also be used to sight the moon during the holy months.
The complex is being built by the Bin Laden Group, Saudi Arabia's largest construction company. The clock tower is being designed by the German company Premiere Composite Technologies, the clock by the Swiss engineering firm Straintec. According to the Saudi Ministry of Religious Endowments, the project will cost $800 million.
The New York Times′ architecture critic called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower “kitsch” and “an architectural absurdity”.
The hotel tower is topped by a four-faced clock, visible from more than 25 kilometres (16 miles), which is billed by Saudi Arabia as the largest clock in the world. The clock will dwarf London's Westminster Clock, once the largest four-faced clock in the world, as well as the current title holder, the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The dials are more than five times greater in area. The clock's dials are also bigger than the current world champion at the Cevahir Mall clock in Istanbul, which has a 36 metres (118 feet) face with 3 metres (9.8 feet) high digits set in the transparent roof of the shopping complex.
Each of the clock's four faces are 46 metres (151 feet) in diameter and will be illuminated by 2 million LED lights, along with huge Arabic script reading: “Allah is the Greatest”. Another 21,000 white and green colored lights, fitted at the top of the clock, will flash to signal Islam's five-times daily prayers as far as 29 kilometres (18 miles). On special occasions, 16 bands of vertical lights will shoot some 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) up into the sky. The clock's four faces will be covered with 98 million pieces of glass mosaics. The Saudi coat of arms is displayed at the center of each clock behind the dials.
An observatory deck is planned at the base of the clock. Elevators will take visitors up to a huge viewing balcony just underneath the faces.
The Abraj-al-bait complex has seen two fire incidents during construction. The first fire struck the Hajar Tower on 28 October 2008. It took 400 firefighters to put out the fire, which burned for 10 hours, consuming nine floors of the tower. According to eyewitness reports, the blaze erupted shortly after midnight, and spread rapidly because of wood used for construction stored in the premises. Soon, the entire building was engulfed in smoke. Hospitals were put on high alert, but no injuries were reported. A civil defence spokesman said the fire started on the 32nd floor of Hajar Tower.
The second fire struck Safa tower on 1 May 2009. No deaths or injuries were reported in the blaze that was quickly contained by Civil Defense. Eyewitnesses said the fire broke out soon after Asr prayer while some workers in the building were welding iron rods on wooden scaffoldings. The fire damaged a large part of the under-construction tower. According to Major General Adel Zamzami, director general of Civil Defense in the Makkah province, the fire broke out at the 14th floor and reached up to the 20th floor of the tower.