Dubai to spend billions for 2010 in SA

A Dubai government firm said on Wednesday it will spend one billion dollars to build new facilities at Cape Town's Victoria and Alfred waterfront in time for the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa.

A three-stage development plan, with the bulk due to be completed by 2010, features the construction of new hotels and resorts, entertainment areas, a marina, shopping malls and apartments, Dubai World chairperson Sultan bin Sulayem told a joint news conference with Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool.

Dubai World joined hands with London and Regional Properties earlier this year to successfully bid for the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Company in a one-billion-dollar deal clinched in September.

The waterfront in Cape Town attracts more than 22 million visitors a year, making it Africa's number one property, leisure and retail development.

It includes shopping and entertainment venues as well as offices, hotels and luxury apartments.

Bin Sulayem said that half the 600 000 square metres (6,4 million square feet) of the waterfront area remains to be developed.

"The Fifa World Cup in 2010 is an important opportunity for South Africa to showcase itself on a global stage and we want to ensure we are ready to capitalise on this opportunity," he said.

The one-billion-dollar development plan also features the construction of a cruise ship terminal.

The consortium involved in the venture includes Dubai World's investment firm Istithmar, as well as Nakheel Hotels and Resorts, a division of Nakheel, a property developer that boasts the construction of man-made islands off the coast of Dubai.

Nakheel is also owned by Dubai World, one of the companies controlled by the government of Dubai and overseeing mega construction projects at home and increasingly big investments overseas.

The booming Gulf emirate of Dubai is a member of the seven-strong oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

Rasool told reporters he hoped that Dubai's "vote of confidence" in the South African economy will encourage other Arab investors, as well as Arab tourists, to follow suit.

"So far, our tourism markets are dominated by Europeans and Americans. What this (project) does is say, particularly to the Arab world, that there is a place called Cape Town in South Africa that is (one) of the most beautiful places in the world... (and) one of the safest places to visit," he said.

"More importantly, it is a place that respects all religions... If your thob (traditional long robe worn by Muslim men in the Gulf) gets you searched at London, in South Africa it is the sign that says 'respect the person who comes in with traditional Middle Eastern clothes'."

Muslim citizens of the oil-rich Gulf have been looking for new holiday destinations to avoid perceived harassment in Western airports since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States in which the hijackers were mostly Saudi, with many picking Malaysia and other Asian countries. - Sapa-AFP

Article by: Lydia Georgi - www.iol.co.za