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Saudi Arabia approves master plan for Middle East's biggest financial district

The Executive Committee of the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) has approved the master plan for the construction of the KAFD in Riyadh.

The first excavation work is scheduled to begin within weeks and the first building is expected to open around the end of 2008. Detailed work on the design of the infrastructure is also about to begin.

When complete, the KAFD will be by far the largest financial centre in the Middle East. It will be the spearhead of Saudi Arabia's strategy to promote private sector development in order to diversify its oil-rich economy and increase employment opportunities for its young and fast growing population.

The KAFD Executive Committee consists of many of Saudi Arabia's most senior financial decision makers, including HE Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, Minister of Finance; HE Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Khrashi, Governor of the Public Pension Authority; HE Dr. Abdulrahman Al Tuwaijri, acting Chairman of the Capital Market Authority; HE Hamad al-Sayari, Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority and Prince Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Ayyaf Al Miqren, Mayor of Riyadh.


The master plan for the KAFD divides the new financial centre into three areas:

The Leaf

The Leaf will be the heart of the KAFD. It will be a mixed-use area, consisting of 23 per cent residential, five per cent retail and the rest high quality office space.

Two thirds of the area will be public realm, including major 'attractors' such as an aquarium, a museum, hotels, an exhibition centre, a conference centre and of course mosques.

The North West Area

Support services, utilities and parking will be located in the North West Area.

The South Area

The South Area will be residential and office accommodation.


The Executive Committee has sought to incorporate the best ideas of all the world's leading financial centres and - as a completely new centre - to avoid the mistakes that others have made.

Thus a feature of the centre of the district will be the absence of motor cars and the creation of attractive pedestrian areas.

Although there will be 40,000 parking spaces, they will be located largely on the perimeter, and notably in the North West Area. Travel within the 'noise barrier' will be by monorail and by giant skywalks - giant bridges in the sky linking multi-storey buildings. The skyways will be climate controlled and modelled on successful earlier innovations such as the 16 kilometres of skyway linking the main buildings in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada.

At the centre of the KAFD will be a modernised concept of a wadi - a central waterway, around which will be established an attractive working ambience for the growing workforce in the financial sector. Thus there will be big squares and parks, cafes and restaurants and sports arenas for football, basketball and volleyball.

Security will be built in as a central part of the design. So will environmental and ecological considerations. The offices will be built to internationally high standards and will be equipped with the world's most modern technology.

The King Abdullah Financial District will be the headquarters for 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.

Saudi Arabia's Public Pension Agency (PPA) is the KAFD land owner and the prime developer.

HE Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Khrashi, Governor of the Public Pension Authority, said:

'Now that the master plan for the King Abdullah Financial District has been completed and approved, construction will begin immediately and will create thousands of construction and related jobs over an intense three year period of building and development."

'We have approved a state-of-the-art design for what will be the first major financial centre of the twenty first century. The design is for a fully self contained centre in which to do business and facilitate investment in enterprises through the Kingdom and, in due course, in the wider Middle East. "

'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 diversification of the world's major oil economy."

'The whole Saudi economy will benefit - but especially the PPA's pensioners, who will gain from the profit generated from our ownership and management of the KAFD project."

'Saudi'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 enhance the skills, training, and capabilities of current and future generations. Young people and others who want to learn will enjoy an opportunity to enhance their skills and develop their full potential to help deepen the quality of our financial markets.'

HE Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, Minister of Finance, said: 'Because of Saudi Arabia's size and its role as the world's largest exporter of oil, our aim is to establish an international financial centre equal in scale as well as in quality to some of the world's leading capital markets.

'No other centre in the region offers a comparable partnership to the world's financial institutions in order to finance and develop one of the largest and most diversified program of projects which any country has ever undertaken.

'The growth of the KAFD over the next few years will create more jobs and rising living standards for our growing population. This is an exciting and pivotal moment in our Kingdom's history.'

The construction of the King Abdullah Financial District is the latest stage in a carefully planned and implemented program of financial modernization by Saudi Arabia. It will follow the successful launch of:-

Tadawul, one of the world's most technologically advanced stock exchanges;

The Capital Market Authority, which has introduced international-class regulation to the capital market;

And a host of other reforms such as accession to the WTO and the licensing of international banks, insurance and investment companies.

The KAFD is being built close to the business centre of Riyadh. The site is 1.6 million square meters and the development will have floor space of around 3.3 million square meters.


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