Abraj Al-Bait, complex of seven government-owned, mixed-use buildings in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The most impressive structure, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, is the tallest building in Saudi Arabia, at 1,972 ft (601 m) high, and one of the tallest in the world; it has the world's largest clock face. Designed by the German architectural firm SL Rasch and developed (2002–12) by the Saudi Bin Laden Group, the complex contains luxury hotels and apartments, shopping malls, restaurants, and parking garages, and towers over the neighboring Great Mosque. It is part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project, created to modernize the city and cater to the millions of hajj pilgrims who visit Mecca every year. Its construction required the demolition of an 18th-century Ottoman fortress.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Middle Eastern and Iranian Physical Geography