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Saudi to build Africa's tallest skyscraper

[RABAT]A Saudi investor is to build Africa's tallest building in Morocco, with construction of the 114-storey tower to begin in June, the project's manager said on Friday.

The skyscraper in Casablanca will be 540 metres high, taller than the 223-meter Carlton Centre in Johannesburg which currently holds the title for tallest building on the continent.

"It will be Africa's highest tower," project manager Amede Santalo said.

It will be built by the Dubai-based Middle East Development LLC, owned by Saudi businessman Sheikh Tarek Binladen, and will cost an estimated US$1 billion, he added.

The project's working title is the "Al-Noor Tower" (Tower of Light in Arabic), but it is expected eventually to be named after King Mohamed VI.

"We chose Morocco because it is the gateway to Africa and Europe, a modern country and politically stable," Mr Santalo told AFP.

The tower is due for completion in June 2018.

"The hight of the tower is 540 metres to remind us that Africa has 54 countries. Everyone in Africa will feel part of that tower," the project's website says.

It will have 114 floors - the number of surahs or chapters in the Koran - and the facade will be covered by patterns representing Africa's 1,000 languages.

It will be built on a 25-hectare plot and will include a seven-star hotel, a business centre and a shopping mall.

Casablanca, Morocco's commercial hub, already hosts the world's tallest minaret at 210 meters, at the Hassan II mosque.

The world's tallest tower is in Dubai, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa, which opened in Jan 2010.