Iconic Tower: The Tallest Building in Africa

Architecture-wise, the Iconic Tower takes cues from ancient Egyptian obelisks.

An iconic skyscraper in the heart of Egypt’s New Administrative Capital, the Iconic Tower stands out for its striking design and height. With a peak height of 1,292 feet (393.8 meters), the Iconic Tower is the highest building in Egypt, the tallest structure in Africa, and the second-tallest building in the Middle East after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Iconic Tower is a 77-story building with two underground floors and a built area of 700,000 ft2 (65,000 m2). The building’s first 29 stories are dedicated to commercial office space, while the remaining levels are divided between hotels, apartments, and a public viewing platform with sweeping views of Cairo.

The Iconic Tower’s Cost

 the Iconic Tower

The Cairo office of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation is investing $48 billion to construct 20 high-rise towers in the New Administrative Capital’s Central Business District. The plan calls for the construction of 20 residential, administrative, business, and utility buildings.

The project also includes the Iconic Tower which is the most famous among them. About $3 billion was poured into the Iconic Tower with more than 5,000 workers working on it every day. The 18,000-ton steel structure will be the centerpiece of the downtown area’s redevelopment. Chinese financial institutions committed to funding 85% of the Central Business District’s construction.

official Iconic Tower project render

The skyscraper is part of a new capital that will cost about $3.8 billion, most of which will come from a Chinese debt. In the first quarter of 2023, the Iconic Tower and two hotels will finally be finished. There will be a theater, ice arena, helipad, and multiple movie theaters inside the tower.

The Purpose of the Tower

Iconic Tower construction

With a total floor area of over 2.7 mi2 (7 km2), this African skyscraper will be a fully functional, integrated complex covering an area of 2.583.000 ft2 (240,000 m2). The ground floor will be dedicated to retail and business space; the mid-level will house residences; and the higher floors will house a hotel. The skyscraper will stand at the center of Egypt’s new city and is anticipated to become a major tourism destination.

the mall next to the Iconic Tower

The Iconic Tower’s Architecture

The Iconic Tower was designed by Dar al-Handasah Shair and Partners. The tower is a multi-functional and multi-purpose high-rise building.

Architecture-wise, the Iconic Tower takes cues from ancient Egyptian obelisks. If you are into tallest buildings, this should remind you of the Oblisco Capitale, a 3,280-foot (1,000-meter) tall pharaonic obelisk also planned to be built in Egypt’s New Capital. None of them is as tall as the X-Seed 4000 or the Tokyo Tower of Babel, but they are close to being realized.

The Iconic Tower

This obelisk tower boasts a complete glass façade. According to some keen eyes, the Iconic Tower’s design and overall shape might be a representation of the Egyptian god Amun’s “Shuti” crown. However, this is not official and might just be a coincidence. Because the resemblance of the crown would have been more striking if it was visible from more than one point.

Obelisk-like Iconic Tower and Egyptian god Amun’s crown, Shuti.
Obelisk-like Iconic Tower and Egyptian god Amun’s crown, Shuti.


The primary structure of the supertall Iconic Tower is a steel frame structure with reinforced concrete core tubes. The steel consumption of the tower was 18,000 tons, and its welding wire consumption was 135 tons. The highest weight per steel structure unit was 28 tons.

Iconic Tower inside city

The tower’s torsional (twisting) members at the crown and the revolving stairway presented the greatest challenge. It is well known that accurately simulating steel buildings with complex spatial shapes is a challenging task. The Chinese team behind the Iconic Tower earned the title of National Quality Trustworthy Team in 2020 for their proficiency in engineering and manufacturing.

The Timeline of the Iconic Tower

Iconic Tower construction
The Iconic Tower in 2022.

On May 2, 2018, construction on the Iconic Tower officially began with the attendance of Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. The primary building’s foundation floor was poured in one uninterrupted session in April 2019, using 653,000 ft3 (18,500 m3) of concrete, making it the biggest foundation floor in Egypt’s recorded history. The steel structure of the Iconic Tower was raised for the first time on November 16, 2019.

With a building advancement rate of “four days, one floor,” the reinforced concrete core of the tower was built up to the 67th above-ground level as of March 16, 2021, achieving a height of 1,089 feet (322 m). On June 17, 2021, the main building of the Iconic Tower was structurally topped out. The final cubic feet of concrete for the tower’s primary framework were poured by the Egyptian Minister of Housing, Assem el Gazzar, and Chinese visitors. By August 2021, the steel structure of the Iconic Tower had been completed.

The completion of the skyscraper is scheduled for the first quarter of 2023. When finished, the tower will surpass South Africa’s 55-floor The Leonardo and the Mohammed VI and become the continent’s highest structure.


By Hrothsige Frithowulf

Hrothsige is a history writer at Malevus. His areas of historical interest encompass the ancient world and early Europe, along with the history of modern culture.