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The Mecca Royal Clock Tower, Saudi Arabia

World’s Tallest Clock Tower

The ‘Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower’ is treated as a government owned mega-tall complex building in Saudi Arabia. The giant Mecca Clock Tower ticks to be as the highest clock tower in the world. The first trial run was done on Jeddah face side during Ramadan. The clock is visible from 17 km away at night and 11 to 12 km away during the day.

A German owned company, Premiere Composite Technologies has designed the clock and featured accordingly for its popularity chase. The Mecca clock is six times larger than London’s Big Ben Clock. Saudi Arabia is not just Islam’s holistic place but also having a set of world recoded structures. Mecca is worshiped as the most sacred mosque site and a world richest seven star hotel in Dubai. The building was designed by globally operating Dar Al-Handasah Consultants and the prime contractor ‘Saudi Binladin Group’, the kingdom’s largest construction company (Saudi Arabia).  The project was rated as the largest architectural building in view of the total area in which exceeded 1.4 million square meters. In according to design wise; using Islamic architecture, it contains seven adjacent towers with 6,000 housing units and as over SR6 billion ($1.6 billion) in investments.

Arab Meridian Time

King Abdullah, the head of Two Holy Mosques had ordered the largest clock tower in the world to be built in Mecca. The clock is placed on the 5th tower of the King Abdul at a height of 380 meters and can be seen from all four sides. The name of Allah has been inscribed on each of the four clock faces. Two of the clock faces including the inscription is 80 meters in height and 65 meters in width and the dial diameter will be 39 meters. The other two sided clock is 65 meters in height and 43 meters in width while their dial diameter is 25 meters. The landmark edifice also carries intricate Islamic decorative artwork. Each of the four dials is studded with 98 million glass mosaic tessera. Over 2 million LEDs provide illumination; the lights are on five times a day at prayer time, the dials flash green and the clock is intended to be seen from a larger distance.

For the installation of the gigantic clock STAHL, Crane Systems supplied 23 wire rope hoists installed on wall mounted Jib cranes at varying heights on the tower facade. The huge clock fitted on top of the building with the support provided by the German tower clock manufacturer PERROT.

As both the dial components and the innumerable sections of building cladding had to be transported right against the walls of the building; tower cranes were ruled out for the work and wall mounted travelling cranes and Jib cranes cover the whole area around the tower. The wall mounted travelling cranes worked along, the Jib cranes serve the fringe and move loads around the corners of the building. The wire rope hoists lift between 3t and 6t; it is controlled by radio remote and it lifted to maximum height of 120m.

The Royal Clock Tower Hotel is to become the new symbol of the Islamic world and is already a sign of change in the region. Increasing industrialization in Muslim countries enables more and more believers to undertake the hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mekkah. The rising numbers of pilgrims have given rise to a positive building boom in Mekkah, which is being literally crowned by the construction company Saudi Bin Laden Group’s Royal Clock Tower.

Dar Al-Handasah Consultants

Dar has consistently ranked among the world’s top 10 engineer and architectural global consultancies for over 25 years.  It is an international network of globally recognized service firms. It is a top design consultants marking five decades of building successful client relationships attracting the best and brightest employees and keeping pace with increasingly complex challenges. In 1956 the firm began with four professors from the American University of Beirut open a specialized engineering firm in order to meet the raise of regional demand. It is the beginning of Dar Al-Handasah and first headquarters was in Beirut.  

Big Ben v/s Mecca Clock

The meaning of 'Big Ben'. "Domine Salvam Fac Reginam Nostram Victoriam Primam" (Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria I) and the meaning of ‘Royal Mecca Clock Tower'; "In the name of Allah". Big Ben is facilitated by original gas light; each dial is lit by 28 bulbs. Royal Mecca Clock Tower is facilitated by 2 million LED lights on the clock face; 21,000 white and green lights above the timepiece flash five times a day to signal the call to prayer. 16 bands of vertical lights will also be beamed 7 miles into the air on special occasions. In addition; the 5-star hotel belonging to the Fairmont chain includes building houses over 800 apartments, a conference centre for 1500 guests, a prayer hall for 3800 believers, a moon observatory and a Museum of Islam. The multi-storey car park has spaces for 780 cars and 10 buses and it is also possible to arrive via the integrated railway station or on one of the two helicopter landing pads. A four-storey shopping centre planned along various themes recreates traditional markets from all regions of the Arab world.

Holy Time

The clock tower; world’s largest clock includes a Lunar Observation Center and an Islamic Museum. While the Royal Clock will announce daily prayers, the Lunar Observation Center and Islamic Museum will serve to protect the heritage for future generations. The observatory will also be used to sight the moon during the holy months. On special occasions, 16 bands of vertical lights will shoot some 10 km up into the sky.

Maintenance by KoNe

In 2008, after making numerous calculations to establish the best possible solutions to serve the building's unique and massive flows of people, koNe Company received an order to supply equipment for the clock tower; altogether, koNe has delivered more than 300 elevators and escalators for the entire complex. "We conducted a thorough people flow analysis to learn and track possible passenger traffic patterns," says Tarek Elnaggar, Senior Vice President at koNe who was the regional director for koNe Middle East during the project. "By doing so, we delivered an extraordinary amount of equipment, including 94 elevators and 16 escalators for the clock tower".

The elevators ascend to the summit of the clock tower in stages, one set rising as high as the 86th floor while another set whisks passengers up to the top floors, including luxurious hotel apartments and an astronomical observation deck situated in a beautiful glass dome above the clock. To accommodate such unique flows of people, koNe implemented special group control software with state of the art intelligence. The control system minimizes waiting times and takes passengers most conveniently and with fewest stops to their designated floor. The elevators in the clock tower travel at up to six meters per second. They include some of the largest elevators available with up to eight tons of capacity in a few podium shuttles and up to 4.5 tons of capacity room for 54 people at a time in the biggest shuttle in the clock tower. The longest continuous elevator trip within the complex is 393 meters.

For the Mecca Clock Royal Tower hotel; keeping a team of koNe service technicians permanently on site to provide 24-hour service and ensure the elevators and escalators perform reliably and are repaired immediately if a fault occurs. "We work in shifts with 15 technicians on duty per shift," explains koNe’s Ahmed Ragab, Project Manager for the site.

Clock Curtain Walls by GUTMANN

GUTMANN (Aluminum building solutions) was invited to be involved in the new challenge; the company was asked to develop a new Unitized Curtain Wall System for the extraordinary hotel tower in order to meet the extremely high specifications (e.g. wind loads of up to 4.35kN/m2) that the architects and the curtain wall advisers specified. The element curtain wall modules were completely manufactured and assembled in the factory; including the glaze, which is normally installed from the outside because of the tremendous height of the tower that it must be possible to install the glass from the inside in the event of repairs. The major advantage is the frame of the facade was designed as a system for internal glaze so if necessary the glazing units of the high main tower can be changed very easily from inside. The sealing of the facade is perfectly matched using a three level saddle gasket and ensures excellent tightness performance proved in project tests and on site.  A significantly higher static load also had to be taken into consideration at the same time; the GUTMANN EF68 underwent customer specific further development and became EF100 IG (internal glaze) with a face width of 100/110 mm. The GUTMANN Building Systems can be optimized and customized to all design and energy-efficiency requirements.

Gurit; FRP Composite Polish Structure

The Mecca clock tower, the central tower is featured by FRP composite materials and structural engineering from advanced composite specialists Gurit. Gurit is a composite industry and positioned itself as the leading global supplier of composite materials, engineering services, tooling equipment, and select parts and systems. At 607m, is the tallest building in Mecca and top 200m of the tower is clad with over 40,000m2 of advanced FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymer) composite panels including the largest clocks in the world. The cladding of the tower top includes intricate calligraphy and ornamental patterning, finished in glass and ceramic tiles. Illumination of the clock hands, clock faces and media wall called for over two million LED's to be integrated into the cladding panels. Gurit worked closely with the tower top designers, SL-Rasch (Stuttgart, Germany) to carry out the structural engineering of the composite tower top cladding, clock hands, and the 23m diameter crescent, a self-supportive FRP composite structure which is located at the top of the building. Gurit supplied a range of advanced composite materials to Premier Composites Technologies (Dubai, UAE), the company that carried out fabrication and installation of the cladding, clock face, clock hands and crescent. This included a new fire retardant wet laminating system from Gurit, Ampreg 21FR which was developed for lamination of the facade.

Lamination was carried out on direct CNC (vertical mould center) cut moulds fabricated using Gurit's T-Paste on a polystyrene blank block. The easy machining; low cure shrinkage and high level of detail achievable with T-Paste enabled rapid production of accurate direct moulds for the part production.

The clock hands presented a particular challenge due to their long slender geometry and the potential for high wind loading. Gurit originally developed WE91-2 and Corecell T-Foam for use in modern large wind turbine blades. The excellent stiffness to weight ratio of the carbon WE91-2 combined with the mechanical properties, toughness and low resin uptake of Corecell structural core enabled the realization of a lightweight stiff clock hand. Dr Mark Hobbs, Senior Engineer, at Gurit says, 'This has been a fascinating project to work on. It has presented numerous challenges from the sheer scale and complexity of the project to the integration of finishes and lighting into the cladding panels'.   

Project: Mecca Royal Clock Tower Hotel

Complex Name: Abraj Al-Bait Endowment

Place: Mecca, Soudi Arabia

Structural Material: Steel/Concrete

Contractor: Saudi Bin Laden Group

Architect: Dar al-Handasah Shair & Partners

Construction Started: 2004

Construction Finished: 2012

Floors: 120


Combined Floor Area: 1,500,000 m²

Site area of 34,794 m².

6 residential towers (27-33F) 302,000m² 864 units.

60F 5* 2,000 key hotel.

Convention centre for 1,500 persons.

Prayer hall for 3,800 persons.

4 story parking for 780 cars and 10 busses.

2 heliports.



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