Master Plan for King Abdullah Financial District Approved
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
JEDDAH, 8 March 2007 — Work on the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh, which is designed to become the largest financial center in the Middle East, will start within a few weeks as KAFD’s executive committee has approved the master plan, it was announced yesterday.
The financial district will be the headquarters of the Capital Market Authority (CMA), the
Stock Exchange (Tadawul) and the Commodity Market, and for financial institutions and other service providers such as accountants, auditors, lawyers, analysts, rating agencies, consultants, and IT providers.
“The first excavations are scheduled to begin within weeks and the first building is expected to open near the end of 2008,” a statement issued by the committee said, adding that KAFD would spearhead the Kingdom’s strategy to promote private sector development in order to diversify its oil-based economy and increase employment opportunities for its young people. The project is expected to create 43,000 new jobs.
In addition to world class office space and housing, the district will also have a financial academy and recreational facilities. It will offer a fully integrated development including offices, hotels, a conference center, shops and sports arenas for football, volleyball and basketball.
KAFD’s executive committee consists of Finance Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Governor of the Public Pension Authority Mohammed Al-Khrashi, Acting Chairman of the Capital Market Authority Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Tuwaijri, Governor of Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Hamad Al-Sayari and Riyadh Mayor Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Miqren.
“The committee has sought to incorporate the best ideas from all the world’s leading financial centers in order to avoid the mistakes that others have made,” the statement said.
“Thus a feature of the district’s center will be the absence of motor cars and the creation of attractive pedestrian areas,” it added. It will also have parking space for 40,000 cars located largely on the perimeter. Travel within the “noise barrier” will be by monorail and by giant skywalks — giant bridges in the sky linking multistorey buildings.
At the center of the KAFD will be a modernized concept of a wadi — a central waterway, around which will be established an attractive working ambience for the growing work force in the financial sector. Security will be built in as a central part of the design. So will environmental and ecological considerations.
The Pension Fund is KAFD’s landowner and the prime developer. “Now that the master plan for KAFD has been completed and approved, construction will begin immediately and will create thousands of construction and other related jobs over an intense three-year period of building and development,” said Al-Khrashi. “We have approved a state-of-the-art design for what will be the first major financial center of the 21st century,” he added.
According to Al-Khrashi, many major banks, financial institutions and professional service companies have already indicated their intention to locate in the district in order to play a major part in the Kingdom’s diversification drive.
“The whole Saudi economy will benefit from the project,” he said, adding that the fund’s pensioners would gain from the profit generated from its ownership and management of the project.
“Saudi Arabia’s young generation will also benefit because we will open a financial academy for 5,000 students. The purpose of this new financial academy will be to improve the skills, training, and capabilities of current and future generations.”
Finance Minister Al-Assaf said the KAFD was designed to become an international financial center equal in scale as well as in quality to some of the world’s leading capital markets.
“No other center in the region offers a comparable partnership with the world’s financial institutions in order to finance and develop one of the largest and most diversified programs of projects,” he said. “This is an exciting and pivotal moment in the Kingdom’s history.”
The construction of the KAFD is the latest stage in a carefully planned program of financial modernization by Saudi Arabia. Located close to the business center of Olaya, the KAFD will spread over an area of 1.6 million square meters. It will have a floor space of some 3.3 million square meters.
Saudi Arabia, which holds a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves, is the largest economy in the Middle East with a GDP of $374 billion in 2006 and a GDP real growth rate of 5.9 percent.
Source: Arab News - http://www.arabnews.com
Reprinted with permission