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The KAFD Bliss: Living in Riyadh’s iconic business district

A journey through the kingdom’s premier business district KAFD, its residential offerings, and its vision for a vibrant tomorrow

The KAFD Bliss: Living in Riyadh’s iconic business district

Seen off King Fahad Road, the cluster of commercial and residential towers could be the marvel of a smaller capital within Riyadh. The common car entering or leaving the city would have to go past a number of sophisticated architecture. Namely, the dune-inspired metro station designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, the desert-rose profile of a mosque by Omrania, and the contemporary array of urbanely designed facilities.

The King Abdullah Financial District, shortened and adorned to KAFD, is an iconic business district that is encircled by its distinct buildings, and set against the motion of the metropolis and its elaborately suited skies. It fits office spaces, residences, high-class restaurants, and cafes within its advanced infrastructure, putting everyday life in a profuse mix of luxury and sustainable modernity.

Captured in many pictures, KAFD’s appeal is at once grand and curious: One cannot help but wonder about the first-hand comforts and enjoyments presented to the residents there, marking the working weeks in one of those elegant buildings observing the unique lives of the KAFD community, about the particular interactions that are only found in its pathways and courtyards.

I needed someone to address these inquiries, one with an informed willingness to take me through that experience. So, I exited the highway.

The KAFD Bliss: Living in Riyadh’s iconic business district

Through the Overlooking Glass

The district was no stranger to me. I’d walked its plazas on countless occasions, attending business forums, art exhibits, and fashion shows. I’d even had the privilege of working within its scenes for a time. But today, I sought a different perspective. I wanted to see it through a resident’s eye.

My plan was simple: to immerse myself in the daily rhythm of KAFD, to catch the ebb and flow of its life. As I walk through its plazas, I observed the hurried figures dashing between cafes and office buildings, the habitual goings of people as they breeze down the boulevards to fitness centres and day classes, and the quiet souls gazing peaceably at the green spaces.

Befitting its status as an elevated world-class destination, KAFD is considered the largest LEED-certified financial centre in the world. It is sitting on a 1.6 million square metres of land, and it is made up of a diverse mix of real estate, including office spaces, residential units, retail outlets, hospitality venues, and entertainment facilities. Coupled with its advanced infrastructural systems, the complex has established itself as the popular choice for international businesses.

According to Gautam Sashittal, CEO at KAFD, the massive mixed-use development, spread over an area of almost 2 million square metres, is working to complete almost 94 buildings, comprising approximately 1 million square metres of office real estate, 130,000m2 of retail space, and over 900 apartments.

When discussing space and size, one advantage that does come up often is KAFD’s location. It is set next to some of Riyadh’s major business hubs and entrepreneurial ventures, its own and independent ones. Moreover, it is 24 minutes from King Khalid International Airport, with an exclusive proximity to one of the four Riyadh Metro interchange stations, and just by the main highway, making it arguably at the epicentre of all new development.

Designed to be a 15-minute city, a vertical zone equipped with the latest technology in urban facility and smart mobility, KAFD is effectively realising its vision of becoming a ‘live, work, play’ community.

Coming around any of the aesthetically intriguing geometries of the properties, the district is designed by more than 25 of the world’s most prominent architects and design firms, including Foster + Partners, Henning Larsen Architects, and Gensler, as I later read, the visitor, or fortunate resident, would dually appreciate the premium F&B range open for business. There is Black Tap, for creative burgers and milkshakes, AOK Kitchen, for a stylish healthy menu reservation, Il Baretto, for authentic Italian cuisine, and still more competing for your afternoon.

The KAFD Bliss: Living in Riyadh’s iconic business district

The City’s Pulse

The city celebrates many of its special occasions in the district. Fireworks, drone and light shows, and seasonal festivals are held during the national day, Ramadan, and most recently, the Riyadh Expo 2030 winning announcement. KAFD also hosts social and recreational events like Noor Riyadh, KAFD Food festival, Riyadh Fashion Week at changed plazas or the Wadi, the pedestrian-friendly centre of the complex.

Over 2023, the King Abdullah Financial District Development & Management Company (KAFD DMC) signed many agreements with international and regional companies that promise a livelier and more advanced KAFD experience, such as parking and shuttle service for office tenants, new branded residences, retail units, food and beverage outlets, car parking facilities, and entertainment venues. In addition to that, residents will look forward to a local Spinneys store, and a 50,000m2 retail development.