Plans over the latest “world’s tallest tower” endeavor in Saudi Arabia have tempted extreme climber Alain Robert, also known as the French Spiderman, for a new challenge before the proposed record-breaker skyscraper has even been built.
Jeddah’s planned tower will rise more than 1,000 meters and when completed will clinch the title of tallest tower in the world from Dubai’s current holder, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa.
But the French climber has already “been-there, done-that.” In March, Mr. Robert conquered Burj Khalifa (home to offices, apartments and entertainment facilities), completing a six-hour night-time climb to reach its highest point.
And now the 49-year-old French Spiderman sets his sights even higher.
“Of course, yes, I would definitely be interested in climbing the tower. The only issue is time: I have been told it will be at least 10 years before it is finished, and by that time I will be in my late 50s,” Mr. Robert told Construction Week.
“I don’t know how difficult it will be to climb because I have only seen some pictures of it, but nothing up close. If the height is 1000m, then that is achievable. I heard somewhere that it may be 1,600m. That doesn’t make much sense.”
But Mr. Robert said he would only contemplate the climb if he was given official approval.
“Access may be an issue, but I’m sure with the people I’ve met, that it should be possible. I think some see it as a sort of honor for me to climb their buildings, so that does help,” he said.
His climbs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two of the top cities in the Gulf home to several looming buildings, and many sculpted in outlandish designs, have gained recognition Mr. Robert from UAE rulers.
“I have been doing this for nine years in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and I have a lot of respect for Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Nahyan. They have helped a lot,” he said.
Speaking about his Burj Khalifa climb, he said it was made “exceptionally challenging” due to the tower’s slippery surface and stronger winds as he rose to a higher altitude.
“It was difficult, and as I got higher, the wind started to build. I had no other choice: it was either postpone or cancel, so I had to do it.”
“During the final part, I couldn’t see the top – and the spire was very slippery, which made things even more difficult. It was great to finally get to the end,” he said.
The Jeddah tower, which will be developed by Saudi Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding in a $1.23 billion contract with Bin Laden Group, will to include a hotel, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and offices. It will be designed by US architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill and a sketch of its design has already been publicly released.
Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, said the Jeddah tower would eventually exceed 1,000 meters, but the final height will be kept a closely guarded secret.
“It is not 1,000 meters. It is more, could be more by many meters... The figure is secret, only a small number of people know,” he said earlier this month.