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Splendor and glory in the Middle East

The King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh is one of the most spectacular building ensembles – and one of the safest – thanks to TÜV SÜD

The KAFD Financial District in Riyadh: TÜV SÜD construction experts are inspecting almost 250 skyscrapers in a 160 hectare area.
Illustration: PR

When it comes to expertise in building safety, TÜV SÜD is in demand all over the world. For example, the inspection of construction monitoring at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.

The KAFD is effectively a new part of the city – a financial center with a stock exchange, banking towers, a monorail and rail connection. Around 250 buildings, 34 of which are skyscrapers, on 160 hectares – almost 4 times as large as the Vatican – need to be approved. “There aren’t many construction sites in the world that are this gigantic. It’s the largest single contract that we’ve ever had,” says Dr. Joachim Junggunst, Head of International Construction Technology at TÜV SÜD. A civil engineer, electrical engineer and facilities engineer all inspect each of the buildings. They inspect the superstructures including reinforced concrete beams, ceilings and loadbearing walls as well as the façade and interior elements such as tile and flooring. German certification experts from TÜV SÜD are in demand all over the world. The contractor, the Rayadah Investment Company (RIC), wanted to have the building quality confirmed with a certification in 2012. “And we were the only ones who could offer the RIC what they wanted with our TÜV Standard BC7 certificate,” notes Junggunst.

The advantage of being a globally active company emerges in complex projects, because TÜV SÜD experts from every corner of the globe are working on the KAFD. In addition to the project team from Munich and various country subsidiaries, the TÜV SÜD experts from Wallace Whittle in Great Britain are also taking part. “But the team leaders often have to be German,” says Junggunst. Many international customers, including the Saudi Arabian building contractor, explicitly want European expertise on their construction sites.

Desert sand is a challenge for the engineers

The project manager surmises that there will be heated discussions until TÜV SÜD confirms that all the work has been performed according to international standards. In addition to the “totally normal” issues that arise on a construction project of this magnitude, the climate conditions in Riyadh are causing the most problems. For example, take the desert sand. The fine grains are like poison to the complex technology in the buildings.

The project costs amount to $7.8 billion US, with the architecture developed by prominent architects from all over the world. The skyscrapers were built right at the beginning “so people could see that they’re making progress,” says Junggunst.“