Saudi district gears up for foreign firms

SourceKuwait Times
CountrySaudi Arabia

RIYADH: Dangling off sun-dappled skyscrapers, construction workers put finishing touches to a long-delayed financial district in Riyadh that is taking center-stage as competition heats up with Dubai to attract foreign firms. The King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), a multibillion-dollar project announced in 2006, is gearing up to “launch” in the coming months, formally declaring it open for business, multiple sources told AFP. The mammoth development in the heart of Riyadh is preparing to capitalize on a government ultimatum to foreign firms – those seeking state contracts in the biggest Arab economy must have their Middle East headquarters in the kingdom by 2024. The ultimatum issued in February is seen as a direct challenge to Dubai – a Gulf city that has long ruled as the region’s business hub – and comes as Saudi Arabia scrambles for investment to diversify the oil-reliant economy. Central to that effort is KAFD, a 1.6-million-square-metre (over 17-million-square-foot) development filled with glass skyscrapers, a tree-lined walkway more...