Middle East Development, a Dubai-based company owned by Saudi Arabian businessman Sheikh Tarek Mohammed Bin Laden, has revealed plans to invest $1.5bn in the construction of a 514m-tall tower in downtown Casablanca that will be the largest in Africa and Europe.

Dubbed Al Noor Tower in its blueprints, Bin Laden’s firm officially launched the King Mohammed VI Tower in the wake of the 4th Gulf-Moroccan Investment Forum, which was hosted by King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

The mixed-use tower will have 114 storeys, the number of suras (chapters) in the Qur’an, and will include business and commerical centres, financial institutions, upscale residential complexes, a hotel and “the largest shopping and entertainment centre on the continent”.

According to Morocco’s Hespress news, the company officials are only awaiting the approval of the Moroccan government before beginning the preparatory groundwork for the project.

In comments attributed to Bin Laden, he characterised the tower as, “a uniting impulse that meets essential needs, enhancing the future of Morocco and a whole continent.”

A promotional video for the project drew a parallel between the symmetrical architecture of the towers and the interaction between Arab and African cultures, calling its “one thing made of two symbiotic structures: the interaction of two powers to create a bigger force.”

Abstract artistic patterns built into the façade of the structure are also said to reflect the 1,000 different languages of Africa, and its place as “the most diversified continent on earth”.

Practically, the tower will be equipped top-to-bottom with the latest “smart” technologies, potentially making it the “smartest tower” of its kind in Africa and Europe.

Gulf-Moroccan forum touts Maghreb as gate to Europe and Africa

The design for the tower was developed by French concept designed Amédée Santalo in collaboration with famous French Architect Denis Valode, from the firm Valode & Pistre. Based on a footprint of 40,000m2, the structure will yield 375,000m2 of built-up area.

The King Mohammed VI Tower is part of a larger endeavour by Middle East Development to build “Al Noor City – The City of Lights” — an ambitious international project that shares its concept with a twin development being proposed by the Dubai-Saudi developer in Djibouti.

Al Noor’s vision is “to develop cities all over the world that provide an impetus for economic integration, employment and sustained development, allowing the region’s underutilised human resources to flourish while providing a healthy investment environment.”

The first ‘city’ projects to be developed will be the Al Noor Cities in Yemen and Djibouti.

It has also been Middle East Development’s long ambition to bridge the Red Sea from the tip of the Horn of Africa — a feat that would require the longest suspension bridge in the world.