Al Faisaliah, Riyadh
Completed in the year 2000, Al Faisaliah Center is one of two stunning skyscrapers in Riyadh (and is now the fourth tallest in the country, though this ranking keeps changing fast). The 266-metre tower was designed by the famous architect Norman Foster for Al Faisaliah Group, a holding company owned by the descendants of the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Building code restricts inhabited floors to a limit of 30, but the architect wanted to reach further, so the creative design was conceived. However, at the height of 40 floors lies the sphere which contains a multi-floored restaurant with panoramic views of the sprawling city. Al Faisaliah Center contains an elegant luxury shopping centre, a five-star Rosewood hotel, restaurants, residential apartments, and office space. Because it is owned by the royal family, the shopping mall and restaurants in its interior are off-limits for the notorious religious police of Riyadh, so it provides a bit of a respite for visitors as well as those who live in Riyadh.
Faisaliya Tower is one of the two iconic towers of the city of Riyadh. It contains a variety of attractions, including a viewing platform (far less spectacular than in Mamluka Tower), a small photography gallery and a café known as the Top. The tower itself is said to have been inspired by the nib of a ball point pen, and does indeed look like that. The complex below contains a Rosewood chain hotel, a café associated with the hotel; a bridge with offices and entrance to the tower elevator; and an annex that has a mall of the same name. The mall, despite being a gathering place for Saudi youth, is far from a big attraction for anyone who has been to the super-malls of the Gulf states. Erected in 2000, this third-tallest tower in the Kingdom is soon to be bumped to the fourth-place spot as plans are already underway to erect the world’s tallest tower in Jeddah.
The office I was working at during my trip to Riyadh is located on the 9th floor of the Al Faisaliah Tower, so I had a quite nice view over the city from there.
The building itself is quite impressive and really designed very uniquely.