It will be the Middle East's first financial district on a scale, and of regulatory and technological standards, to match the major global financial centres.
Explaining the background to the Kingdom's ambitious but attainable strategy, His Majesty said:
'We are blessed with a robust economy, a stable currency and a strong financial sector with equally strong supervision.'
The intention to construct the world's first major financial district of the twenty first century is the latest stage in what is already a carefully planned and implemented programme of financial modernisation 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 the licensing of international banks, insurance and investment companies.
Saudi Arabia's financial district will be built close to the business centre of Riyadh. The site is 1.6 million square metres and the development will have floor space of over 3 million square metres. It will be a multi-year project during which Saudi Arabia - already the world's oil capital - will consolidate its position as the Middle East's financial capital.
The master plan for the King Abdullah Financial District will be completed by the end of the year. Construction will begin in 2007 and will create thousands of construction and related jobs over an intense three year period of building and development.
The King Abdullah Financial District is designed as a state-of-the-art and fully self contained centre for doing business and facilitating investment and enterprise in the Kingdom and, in due course, in the wider region.
Many of the world's major banks, financial institutions and professional service companies - already operating in Saudi Arabia - have 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 King Abdullah Financial District will be the headquarters for the Capital Market Authority (CMA) and the Stock Exchange (Tadawul), and for financial institutions and other service providers such as accountants, auditors, lawyers, analysts, rating agencies, consultants, and IT providers.
His Excellency, Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, Minister of Finance, said:
'Our common goal in establishing a new financial district is to provide an attractive working environment for the growing number of Saudis working in the financial sector.'
The CMA has been designing the strategy underpinning the development of the District together with the Public Pensions Agency (PPA). One of the cornerstones of their strategy is the development of a public/private partnership.
His Excellency Jammaz Al-Suhaimi, Chairman of the CMA, said: 'We are working hard to strengthen and develop our capital market. The role of the King Abdullah Financial District will be to facilitate the financial sector's contribution to our national economic growth in every way we can.
'We will provide young people and others who want to learn with an opportunity to enhance their skills and develop their full potential to help deepen our financial markets. Thus, in addition to facilitating business and investment, a centerpiece of the District will be a new financial academy and conference facilities for financial services.
'The purpose of this new financial academy will be to enhance the skills, training, and capabilities of current and future generations to consolidate Saudi Arabia's position as the largest economy in the region.'
His Excellency H.E. Mr. Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Khrashi, Governor of the PPA, said
'The Public Pension Agency (PPA) sponsors investment projects that are beneficial to the equity of the pensioners, and help to support the financial revenues of the Agency. The Agency's investment in this project is in line with this policy. The Agency will own and develop the whole project, and will provide opportunity for the CMA and other government agencies such as SAMA, and other related companies, such as insurance companies, banks and financial services to find suitable locations and offices that are equipped with the world's modern technologies. It has already taken the necessary steps towards achieving this objective, and it expects that the project will create an excellent working environment that will attract excellent investment opportunities.'