Iskandar Development Region, the Malaysian US$105-billion mixed-use economic zone was unveiled during the inaugural Cityscape Asia exhibition and conference, which was held at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Commenting at Cityscape, a spokesperson for the project said, "Our strategic location on the border with Singapore is integral to the success of the project. Singapore is expecting 17 million visitors by 2015 this and with improved transportation links we can offer eco-tourism for example complementing their tourism initiatives. In addition investors can buy commercial and residential freehold for a quarter of what it costs in Singapore at the moment."
In addition to the financial center, the development will consist of an educational zone, creative and design center, theme park, hotels and other tourism-related projects. Danga Bay, the US$8-billion integrated waterfront development in the Johor Bahru region of Southern Malaysia, is one of the flagship developments within Iskandar Development Region. Situated close to the border with Singapore, it is more than twice the size of the island state and has already attracted more than US$5 billion through public-private partnerships and other near government organisations (NGO). In addition the Malaysian government has committed US$1.5 billion to hard and soft infrastructure projects.
Under the prospectus, investors will be offered corporate tax exemption, free-flow of capital and labour, and freehold status for office and residential property. The master plan will take 20 years to be realized. Already a favourite destination for many visitors from the Middle East region, it is thought that investors will be attracted not only by the strong business case but also the close cultural ties.
Throughout SE Asia, almost 300 major public and private property developments are in progress and growing at a rate of over 10% annually. It is also estimated that there is over US$16 billion in available capital for such projects.
"Not that foreign investment in Asian real estate projects is a problem," commented Neil Hickman, Exhibition Director, Cityscape Asia. "Vietnam's FDI in 2006 was over US$10 billion rivaling that of India and only yesterday Mah Bow Tan, Singapore Minister for National Development, announced that Singapore had realised more than US$5.4 billion during the same period."