South Korea’s Samsung C&T is the frontrunner to win the contract to build the estimated SR1.2bn ($320m) Tadawul Tower at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh.

Samsung, in joint venture with the local Contracting & Construction Enterprises (CCE), is the client’s preferred bidder and is expected to sign the contract by the end of September, according to sources in Riyadh.

The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) received bids from approximately 10 groups on 22 April for the construction deal. The 40-storey tower development will cover a total area of 140,000 square metres and will contain a three-storey car park. UK-based Mace Group is the project manager for the scheme. The tower was designed by Japan’s Nikken Sekkei. 

The client is currently evaluating bids for the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) contract for the Tadawul tower project, having received prices from contractors in July.

The Tadawul Tower is one of the final major financial towers planned for KAFD, with construction work already under way on a number of other large buildings for the kingdom’s financial sector.

The local El-Seif Engineering Contracting Company was awarded a $240m contract in 2010 to build the 39-floor headquarters tower for the Samba Bank. Earlier that year, the local Saudi Binladin Group was awarded a $300m contract to build the CMA headquarters. The 400-metre-tall tower will have a total built-up area of 185,000 sq m. Prior to this, Binladin had been awarded an estimated $3.7bn contract to build 20 towers at KAFD.

KAFD is being developed by Al-Rayadah, the investment arm of the state-owned Public Pension Agency.

In addition to the financial towers, Al-Rayadah is also planning to build several new museums and an aquarium at the KAFD site, with the first ones scheduled to be put to tender in the first quarter of 2013.

The three museums, which are in the final design stages, are the Museum of Built Environment, the Science Museum and the Geo-Climate Centre. The Museum of Built Environment is being designed by the US-based architect FX Fowlie and will contain more than 340,000 sq m of exhibits and galleries, a 150-seat auditorium and restaurant.

The science museum and geo-climate centre, which will be linked together, have been designed by US-based Cambridge Seven Associates. Cambridge also designed the National KAFD Aquarium. The four schemes are part of 12 museum and cultural projects planned for the KAFD project.

KAFD is located on a 1.6 million sq m site north of Riyadh, and is one of the largest megaprojects currently under construction in the kingdom, with more than $6.2bn-worth of construction contracts already awarded on the scheme.