Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who this year dropped from the 19th-richest man in the world to the 26th-richest, has announced that he is building the world’s biggest tower, in Jeddah.
Kingdom Holding, one of the prince's many companies, has signed a contract worth $1.23 billion to erect the kilometer-tall tower, which Talal says will overshadow the world’s current tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Dubai’s tower was named after a president of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Talal’s tower may soon bear his name.
Which got us thinking. What man spent his money on the most outlandish monument to himself?
1. Billionaire sheiks
Just a month ago, Saudi billionaire sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan decided to have his first name etched in the sand of a resort island he owns. So Hamad hired a team to carve “HAMAD” in capital letters that measure 1,000 meters long and two miles wide — so large that the name can be viewed from space. The letters are carved deeply enough to also function as series of canals, which carry the seawater inland and prevent the tide from eroding the visibility of the sheikh’s name.
2. Indian movie stars
Tamil film superhero Rajnikanth, known for his killer mustache- sunglasses combination, is much-loved. But the man also knows how to love himself. Rajnikanth has had temples built in his honor in India, presumably because he believes he is a god. And is now getting a biopic made about how majestic he is.
It all goes back to this: In Egypt's Old Kingdom, it was believed that the pharaohs’ spirits remained in their bodies after death. To protect those souls, Egyptians built massive tombs around the bodies of their dead pharaohs. Nothing says power like giant pyramids built in your name.
4. Bosnian novelists
Okay, so the novelist isn’t building this for himself — but if he was, it would be the epitome of egomania. Bosnian novelist Ivo Andric is getting a town built in his honor. The 17,000-square-meter village is modeled after a town in Andric’s Nobel Prize-winning book “The Bridge on the Drina.” It will take three years to complete and will have a tower, museum, library, theater, and memorial to Andric. Your guess at how long it will take for someone to ask for a city, not a village, to be built in his or her honor.
5. Mughal emperors
And then there are those rulers who use their power to honor those closest to them. Instead of building a monument to himself, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned one for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, after she died. The grief-stricken emperor asked for a monument so glorious it would never be forgotten. Today, the Taj Mahal is considered one of the most beautiful monuments in the world. Other powerful men, take note.