Image Courtesy of Middle East Development LLC.
Construction of a $1-billion, 540-meter-tall tower in Casablanca, Morocco, is tentatively planned to commence in June. The planned tower would be tallest in Africa.

Construction of a $1-billion, 540-meter-tall tower in Casablanca, Morocco, is tentatively planned to commence in June, bringing the prospect for superseding South Africa’s 223-m Carlton Centre in Johannesburg city as the tallest structure in Africa.

However, project manager Amedee Santalo says the developer, Middle East Development LLC, has yet to put final touches on a deal with the Moroccan government, and with the tower being such a huge project, “it is difficult to be very precise in the timing—but up to today our target is June 2015.”

Dubai-based Middle East Development LLC, a company associated with Saudi Arabian business tycoon Sheikh Tarek Binladen, is both developer and builder. Binladen, who has also been actively involved in infrastructure development for more than 40 years, says he came up with the concept ten years ago. The architect is Paris-based Valode & Pistre, a French firm operated by Denis Valode and Jean Pistrecomplex.

Al Noor Tower Morocco will rise 114 stories, according to the project’s website, which says the facility's role is not merely to be a beautiful tower, but also to become real motor for the Moroccan economy by bringing a complete trading platform to the country.

Santalo says Morocco was picked because “it is the door of Africa to Europe and is a modern and well-developed country in Africa, and politically very stable.” He adds that the building’s design “is elegant and gives the feeling of a wedding dress.”  Its 114 floors correspond to the number of chapters in the Quran, Santalo says.

“From the side, the tower looks like a fountain pen, which is the tool that Sheikh Tarek is using to design the future. The design represents an eye from the top view to symbolize the vision of Sheikh Tarek,” Santalo said, adding that the facade will be covered by a pattern designed to represent the 1000 languages spoken in the continent of Africa.

Constructed on a 25-hectare site, the building will host a seven-star hotel and spa, business center, conference hall, luxury shopping area, safe-storage area, luxury offices, restaurants and coffee shops. According to the project literature, the 2000-sq-m spa will not only be made for relaxation but also for high-level medical treatment.

The seven-star hotel will have with 200 luxury suites “to be developed as a reference point in hospitality business,” according to project literature. Adds Santalo, “The Al Noor Tower will offer all the facilities for top businessmen to work in the best conditions and to live in a creative environment to achieve more than expected, due to modern infrastructure we will provide.”

Santalo also says that, apart from the big companies, the investment also targets Morocco’s diaspora, whose people may have missed opportunities to come back home and invest. “Big companies and groups will see their huge interest to set up their headquarters in this landmark building. We also believe the diaspora will move back in terms of investment, to their home country, which will be a good support for the local growth of the economy,” adds Santalo.