Malaysia Begins Construction of the Country’s Tallest Skyscraper

Kuala Lumpur’s Merdeka PNB118 will also be among the world’s tallest buildings when completed

Malaysia is building what will be the nation’s tallest skyscraper, saying the project will generate around 11 billion ringgit ($2.67 billion) for the economy and bolster the country’s bid to become a tourist hub.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said at a launch ceremony Wednesday that the name of the planned 118-story tower in downtown Kuala Lumpur would be Merdeka PNB118. “Merdeka” means independence in Malay. When completed, the skyscraper will stand 2,067 feet (630 meters) from ground level to the top of its spire, according to project owner Permodalan Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s largest fund management company. Kuala Lumpur’s landmark Petronas Twin Towers, currently the country’s tallest buildings, stand 1,483 feet.

Among the world’s skyscrapers, including those that haven’t yet been completed, Merdeka PNB118 ranks sixth tallest when antennas are included, according to a list compiled by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

The construction project, valued at five billion ringgit, is expected to be completed in 2020, according to PNB. The company’s chairman, Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, said the mixed-use development would include an office tower, a luxury hotel and shopping complex. Construction of the project is expected to generate 10,000 jobs, he said. The development will house PNB’s offices and the remaining space will be rented out to local and international companies, he added.

The project’s launch comes as Malaysia’s economy, the third largest in Southeast Asia, has been pressured by lower energy prices, among other factors. Exports of liquefied natural gas and crude oil have suffered and the country’s currency, the ringgit, has hit multiyear lows this year.

In November, PNB awarded the construction project to a consortium of South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corp. and Malaysia’s UEM Group Bhd. Samsung C&T, the construction arm of Samsung Group, helped build the Petronas Twin Towers and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world’s tallest building.

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