When a consortium of real estate developers and financiers formed the City Centre Development Company (CCDC) to launch the SR37.7bn ($8bn) Jeddah Central Development Project in October last year, it signalled a change in attitude towards Saudi Arabia's commercial capital.
For decades, the city has played second riddle to Riyadh in terms of real estate projects. With an estimated population of 3.4 million, compared with 4.2 million in Riyadh, but lacking administrative and ministerial headquarters, Jeddah has been overlooked for significant regeneration and development.
Its crumbling downtown district contrasts sharply with Riyadh's more prosperous central business district, which hosts the 331-metretall Kingdom Tower, Saudi Arabia's tallest building, and the 260-metre-tall Al-Faisaliah Centre, its second tallest.
But the construction boom that has spread across the kingdom in recent years has not left Jeddah completely untouched. In particular, prime real estate on the Jeddah Corniche has been subject to major development, with developers targeting high land returns to construct a series of tall buildings.
Three major towers are under construction. The local Aldar al-Khasa for Urban Development is building the 250-metre Headquarters Business Park, the UAE's Emaar Properties is building the 270-metre Comiche Tower, while the local Al-Masarat Company is building the 388-metre Diamond Tower.
Yet for the city known as the gateway to the two holy mosques at Mecca and Medina, which receive millions …