Saudi financial regulator the Capital Market Authority (CMA) is to tender the contract to build the kingdom’s tallest tower at King Abdullah Financial District on the outskirts of the capital, accor-ding to contractors hoping to bid for the work.

The CMA is currently prequalifying contractors to bid for the deal to build the 400-metre-tall tower, which will supercede the 309-metre-tall Kingdom Tower in central Riyadh as the country’s tallest building. The CMA has yet to say when it will announce the shortlist of bidders.

The winning contractor will build the tower with three basement floors, 79 storeys above ground, with a total built-up area of 185,000 square metres.

The CMA expects site preparation work to start by the end of this year, with construction beginning in January 2010.

The regulator wants to move into the tower in early 2012.

The CMA tower is one of several high-rise developments planned for the SR36bn ($9.6bn) financial district.

The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) and other Saudi financial institutions, such as Samba, Alinma Bank, Al-Rajhi Bank, and the Public Investment Fund, are all seeking high-rise office space in the financial district.

The investment arm of the Public Pension Agency, Al-Rayadah Investments, is the master developer on the scheme.

Although it will be the kingdom’s tallest tower when completed, the CMA tower will be considerably shorter than the 1-kilometre tower planned by Saudi investment company Kingdom Holding at Jeddah Kingdom City (MEED 11:9:09).

Kingdom has shortlisted three architects and three contractors for the project, which it hopes will replace the 818-metre Burj Dubai as the world’s tallest building.

The shortlisted architects, which are all from the US, are Skidmore Owings & Merrill; Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture; and Pickard Chilton, which will work in partnership with UK-based Hyder Consulting.

The three contracting groups are South Korea’s Samsung Corporation with Dubai-based Arabtec Construction; Australia’s Multiplex; and Saudi Binladin Group.

Despite falling property prices and the economic slowdown, developers are moving ahead with a series of other high-rise schemes elsewhere in the Gulf.

In Doha, Qatar National Bank has invited contractors to bid by 25 October to build its 510-metre headquarters building, which will be the tallest in Qatar.

In Dubai, Hong Kong-based developer Trident Holdings selected Lebanon’s Arabian Construction Company in early September for a AED1.5bn ($408m) deal to build the 618-metre Pentominium tower in Dubai Marina.

Other tower projects have been put on hold, including Meraas Development’s planned tower at Jumeira Garden City in Dubai, Dubai-based Al-Fattan Properties’ tower at Dubai Marina, Abu Dhabi-based Al-Jaber Group’s tower on the Doha Corniche, and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company’s tower at the Doha Convention Centre development.