RIYADH — Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal launched Tuesday a project to build the world's tallest tower at more than 1,000 metres (3,281 feet) in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

The project to built a tower topping Dubai's world's highest building, Burj Khalifa, "will soon see the light after the signing of a $1.2 billion agreement" between Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding Co and construction giant Bin Laden Group, the Saudi tycoon told reporters.

It will take 36 months to build the tower, said the Saudi businessman, a nephew of King Abdullah and one of the kingdom's wealthiest men. He did not say when construction will begin.

Alwaleed said the tower was intended to "send a message of strength" reflecting the OPEC kingpin's economic and political stability.

"Our message is political," he said.

Saudi Arabia has been spared a wave of protests that has rocked the region, leading to the downfall of autocratic rulers in Tunisia and Egypt despite sporadic small protests staged by Shiites in the Eastern Province.

The tower, which will be part of a $20 billion project north of Jeddah, would top Dubai's 828-meter Burj Khalifa (2,717 feet), which was opened last year.

It will include a hotel, apartments and offices occupying an area of 500,000 square metres.