My last visit to Al Kharj (“Almarai’s Central Processing Plant in Al Kharj“) in July 2014 gave me one of the best architectural pictures in my memory card. I have been seeing and capturing this high riser but I never knew what it is called. I had asked fellow Filipinos about its name but all I got is the word “tower”, so I just kept it there for months. I finally learned about its name only last week through a colleague, a native of Saudi Arabia.
Apparently, it is called the Water Tower & Revolving Restaurant and it is actually the most prominent functional landmark of Al Kharj City, which has developed into a modern center of agriculture and industry over the past two decades. It does not only serve as the backbone of the city’s fire and potable water system but it is also designed to function as a place for unique recreation and entertainment as well as social center for the inhabitants of Al Kharj that extends to Riyadh areas. From downtown Riyadh this landmark is only about 90 kilometers.
The Tower stands up to 105 meters high with 57 meters maximum diameter of the tower structure. The storage capacity of the water tank is 7800m³. The super structure has six main levels. The basement, located about seven meters below the ground level comprises the offices, electro-mechanical room, and storage space. The concourse level located about two meters below the ground serves as the main activity center on the ground. It contains an Exhibition Hall, an auditorium, a number of shops and a separate cafeteria for families and singles.
Above the observation level is the 400 seat-revolving restaurant, which completes one full turn in one and half hours. Seats are located along with outer periphery of the restaurant whereas kitchen and other services are placed around the core. The architectural form of the water tank appears like a drop of water supported on a number of ribs. The shape and form of the reinforced concrete incites inspiration from Arabic Calligraphic forms. Tourists and travelers of this landmark can stroll around the water tank within the annular space between the tank and the ribs. This also allows them to appreciate the green fields of Al Kharj oasis from that height.
The podium, which is raised about two meters above the ground level, can be accessed by a series of stairs from all the four sides and corners. The water tower imposingly rises from the center of the podium. The observation level, which is about 45 meters above the ground level, affords a unique view of Al Kharj City surrounded by lush vegetation.
It is indeed difficult to picture farming them in the middle of a desert. However, the booming dairy farms in the city challenge the imagination even more. There is more than 120,000 heads of cattle being raised therein and 80 percent of the dairy products produced in Saudi Arabia emanates from the area. Today, the locals have named the road that leads to many of the dairies as “Milk Road”. One of them, Almarai Dairy Farm, holds the distinction of being the largest integrated dairy operation in the world.
For centuries, Al-Kharj has stood out. In utter contrast to the behemothic desert land that surrounds it, the Ad Dahna with its reddish sand to the north (“Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon“), and to the southeast, the Rub Al-Khali, the largest sand desert in the world, Al-Kharj’s small verdurous farms and groves of date palm trees have flourished in the fecund soil.
Al-Kharj’s secret and its promise lie in its abundant fresh water supply. For thousands of years, a lot of deep ponds and a network of natural aquifers have been continuously fed by three major wadis–Wadi Sahba, Wadi Hanifah (“In Search of A Rebound“) and Wadi Nisah–and several smaller ones, which drain rainwater from the Tuwaiq escarpment to the west.
It is a no brainer now why Al Kharj is considered the center of agriculture and industry and why the Water Tower & Revolving Restaurant has to be cobbled up at the very heart of the city.
Related Posts and References
Outside Riyadh at simba.com
Dairy Farms of Al Kharj at riyadh-ksa-me.blogspot.com
Old Dir’iyyah at riyadh-ksa-me.blogspot.com
Places to visit in The City of Al-Kharj ~ Life in Saudi Arabia at saudiarabia.blogspot.com
Places to Visit in Al Kharj, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Tour Guide at naumankhan.blogspot.com