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Sunday, 14 May, 2000, 04:15 GMT 05:15 UK
First Saudi sky-scraper

The first sky scraper in Saudi Arabia is to be officially opened today in the capital, Riyadh.

The two hundred and sixty seven metre high Faisaliah tower, with a golden globe just below the summit, took three years to build and has been planned by its British designers to withstand Saudi Arabia's soaring summer temperatures of more than fifty degrees Celsius 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Up to fifty tons of ice are taken into the tower each night, which then melts during the day to keep the building cool.

The BBC Middle East Correspondent says, however, that the newly opened Faisaliah shopping mall beneath the tower is generating the most interest, and -- with the Saudi passion for shopping and little other entertainment in Riyadh -- it is fast becoming the centre of the city.

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