Soft opening scheduled for KAFD

4100Here’s good news for industry captains and chief honchos who have been asking when the King Abdullah Financial District — estimated to cost SR29 billion — would be opened.

Information gathered from sources said that a soft opening has been scheduled either at the month end or middle of October.

“Engineers and workers of one of the big contractors are busy these days in preparations for the event with finishing touches on the landscape and other projects being made,” a subcontractor said.

According to a source working for one of KAFD’s supervisory and management firms, top officials of the Rayadah Investment Corporation met last week and again later.

Rayadah is undertaking the KAFD on behalf of the Kingdom’s Pension Authority.

Asked for the reason of the soft opening, the source speculated that it was because the project could not be completed by 2015, the given time frame for the completion of the work.

“It’s also one way of engendering interest in the project in the wake of adverse publicity,” he said, apparently referring to an article in a foreign magazine last year which said that the KAFD “is a sober Saudi alternative to Dubai’s exuberant International Financial Center.”

The article said: “A big problem is its size. The Saudi economy may be doing well on the back of high oil prices but not so well that its businesses could easily digest all the extra property.”

It added that the new “financial district has thrice as many high-end office spaces as the rest of Riyadh. In other words, even if every company in the city’s plusher offices moved to the new district it would still be two-thirds empty.”

If and when the soft opening takes place, it would come in the wake of other developments.

These include the completion of a world-class convention center and contract signing to manage and operate hospitality facilities by well-known hotel chains, among others.

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and Samba have also reportedly leased spaces in the financial district.

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