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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wanted: Malaysian partners

REGIONAL BOOST: Artist’s impression of part of the Knowledge Economic City

KNOWLEDGE Economic City Developers Co Ltd (KECD) is in talks with Malaysian companies to rope them in as partners and long-term investors for the US$8 billion (RM26 billion) Knowledge Economic City (KEC) development in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Its chief executive officer Tahir Mohammed Bawazir said the company has identified several interested parties and hopes to conclude some deals soon.

TAHIR: The Knowledge Economic City is expected to bring about RM9billion a year into the region once it is completed by 2020

"We plan to leverage on the expertise of Malaysian companies from various sectors and hope more will come in as partners and investors," he told Business Times in Kuala Lumpur.

Tahir said that as the project develops, KECD will continue to seek investors, partners and sub-developers as well as establish joint ventures with strategic partners to develop and operate key component areas.

Since its launch in 2006, KECD has signed memorandums of understanding and contracts with several Malaysian companies and the government.

They include Malaysian Multimedia Development Corp, HELP University College, Multimedia University and, the latest, iTopia Sdn Bhd.

Consultancy contracts have been awarded to MSC Technology Centre.

"The project is expected to bring about 10 billion Saudi riyal (RM9 billion) a year into the region once it is completed by 2020," Tahir said.

The KEC is one of four economic cities being developed in Saudi Arabia to boost regional development by focusing on intellectual property, knowledge-based, medical, hospitality, tourism and multimedia industries.

Other economic cities being developed by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority are the King Abdullah Economic City, Prince Abdul Aziz ibn Musaed Economic City and the Jizan Economic City.

The five million sq m KEC includes a theme park, educational institutions, integrated hospitality complex (with private medical centre, nursing and medical schools, senior assisted living community), residential, commercial and retail components.

"KEC Medina aims to utilise Saudi Arabia's second competitive advantage after energy - its strategic location as a link between East and West," Tahir said.

The project is expected to create more than 20,000 jobs and accommodation for about 150,000 people.

By New Straits Times (by Azlan Abu Bakar)

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