Ayman Nasser Alawad: Steering Kafd Through Legal Challenges

Ayman Nasser Alawad: Steering Kafd Through Legal Challenges

Ayman Nasser Alawad , Chief Legal Officer

Ayman Nasser Alawad

Chief Legal Officer

Legal officers play a key role in real estate companies, handling legal matters and regulatory issues in a constantly evolving industry. They draft and review contracts, negotiate deals, and manage disputes, among other key functions. Ayman Nasser Alawad, Chief Legal Officer at King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), ensures that KAFD's operations comply with relevant laws and regulations while minimizing legal risks for the company. KAFD is a large-scale development project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, covering over 1.6 million square meters and incorporating various facilities such as office towers, hotels, residential units, retail spaces, and recreational areas. The development is almost completed and most of the b uildings a nd t owers a re o ccupied. A v isit to KAFD shows that this new community in the heart of Riyadh is thriving and the business pace is robust. The project has a significant impact on Saudi Arabia's economy and has been designed to be environmentally sustainable. Let's hear from Alawad about his journey and KAFD’s commitments in this interaction.

Could you give a brief account of your professional background and experiences? What inspired you to venture into the legal domain and what drives you today as an industry leader?

I started my career as an engineer but eventually realized that I wanted to transition to the field of law. I spent several years preparing for this shift and pursued a Juris Doctor degree in the United States, specializing in international business. I gained valuable experience working at Baker McKenzie law firm, providing advice to companies on corporate and securities, restructuring, capital markets, FDI, real estate, hospitality, and regulations development. Later on, I joined the Royal Commission for AlUla County, where I worked on developing a regulatory

framework that empowered the Royal Commission to make the government decisions in the sectors that are relevant to the purposes of developing the zone. I also worked with the Saudi Tourism Authority, promoting the kingdom's offerings globally. Eventually, I returned to the Royal Commission and assisted in transitioning it to become the regulator of the zone. Currently, I am the Chief Legal Officer of KAFD which is the Financial District in Saudi Arabia.

How would you define KAFD as an organization and its current position in the market?

As an organization, we at KAFD are responsible for the development and management of a large area of real estate in addition to assisting in developing a regulatory frame work for KAFD zone to become a special economic zone. Our project is considered the jewel of real estate projects in the kingdom and we are proud to say it is almost complete. In fact, it has already been commissioned and most of the available spaces have been either leased or sold. Currently, we are developing new areas beyond the ones that have already been developed. Our main focus is on attracting businesses not only in the financial institutions and its support services but

also in many other sectors. Additionally, we are looking to attract tenants of all kinds, including business offices, retail, and residential tenants. We aim to create a complete ecosystem here in KAFD, where people can live, work, and play. We are excited about the progress we have made so far and are looking forward to seeing the continued growth and success of our project.

Tell us about your leadership approach. What are the guidelines or methodologies you follow as a leader?

My leadership approach is a mix of motivating and coaching employees. The enabling elements to succeed when coupling these two approaches are two key elements: first, genuinely loving every person on the team. Second, having a clear vision of where we're headed. When you genuinely love everyone and have a clear vision, people will automatically move in that direction, without needing further instructions. Everything falls into place, and everyone works happily towards that goal while uplifting the employees’ skills by continuous couching and motivating them by listening to their personal goals and help them to achieve those goals. I've discovered that this approach has worked well for me throughout my career and has come naturally, it's intuitive and not something that I found in books.

I aim to support the organization in achieving its strategies & goals and to assist my fellow officers in reaching their objectives

What are the major challenges you initially encountered while establishing yourself as a successful leader in the legal domain? How did you overcome them to emerge as a successful professional?

As a Chief Legal Officer, I find that it's crucial to strike a balance between my role as a lawyer and my role as a corporate officer. I aim to support the organization in achieving its strategies and goals and to assist the CEO and my fellow officers in reaching their objectives. However, I must also ensure that we remain fully compliant with the law and act as an advisor to the organization on legal matters. Achieving this balance can be challenging, but we try to approach challenging matters by finding creative pragmatic solutions that allow us to be both compliant with the law and enable the company to move forward. This is the most demanding aspect of my job, but it's also one of the most fulfilling.

What is the future destination you are heading towards?

My current goals and aspirations are centered around serving my country from anywhere to achieve the promise of vision 2030 while striking the balance between work and personal life. Having achieved many of my professional goals on a personal level, I now focus on three main areas which are; making a positive impact where I can, personal and family happiness and wellness, and what I will do after retirement from service. So, these are the things that I am currently reflecting on and planning for, as I move forward in life.

Ayman Nasser Alawad, Chief Legal Officer, KAFD

Ayman Nasser Alawad is the Chief Legal Officer at KAFD. He started his career as an engineer and then pursued a Juris Doctor degree in the US, specializing in international business. Ayman’s experience also includes having worked at Saudi Aramco, Baker McKenzie law firm, the Royal Commission for AlUla County, and the Saudi Tourism Authority before joining KAFD.

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