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Wed 22 Oct 2008 08:00 AM

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Aiming for a Smart world

SmartCity, a joint venture between TECOM Investments and Sama Dubai, has ambitious plans to develop and manage knowledge industry townships worldwide.

SmartCity, a joint venture between TECOM Investments and Sama Dubai, has ambitious plans to develop and manage knowledge industry townships worldwide.

The company has already announced a SmartCity in India and Malta, with more planned for the future. Fareed Abdulrahman, CEO of SmartCity, gives us the latest update on the projects and plans for the future.

What's the aim of SmartCity?

SmartCity's vision is to ‘create a global network of self-sustained business townships to foster the knowledge economy'.

With proven success models such as Dubai Internet City (DIC), Dubai Media City (DMC) and Dubai Knowledge Village (DKV), we felt there was an opportunity to extend that experience and opportunity to other regions, countries and communities, and leverage their success to drive the development of knowledge economies globally, hence creating a ‘global network'.

What will SmartCity mean to the growth of the IT industry in the Middle East?

SmartCity is a facilitator to the growth of knowledge-based economies. Through our self-sustained business townships, the knowledge industry will be provided with a ready base and state-of-the-art infrastructure from which to expand their business footprints regionally and internationally. Each location, whether SmartCity Malta or SmartCity Kochi, will form part of a global network to cater the knowledge based industry.

Can you comment on the progress of SmartCity Kochi and SmartCity Malta?

SmartCity Malta was formally launched in June 2008 and has received full planning application approval for the whole SmartCity Malta development and detailed planning application approval for the first building, SCM01. SCM01 will be operational in 2010.

SmartCity Kochi is currently undergoing the necessary procedures to obtain Special Economic Zone notification (SEZ) from the authorities. Construction will commence when full approvals are received.

How much of a financial investment is made in these projects?

The investment in SmartCity Malta is $300 million making it the largest single foreign investment in the country. It will also create 5,600 jobs for knowledge workers.

SmartCity Kochi, a joint venture between SmartCity and the Government of Kerela, has procured 246 acres of land and has made an investment outlay of $350 million. It is due to generate approximately 90,000 jobs in the South Indian state of Kerala.

What challenges are you facing?

The major challenges are the global and regional macro-economic conditions. We have to make sure that we are responsive to the needs of the investors and partners, ensuring we enhance and add value to their operations through being our partners.

The present economic climate and the knock-on effects of the credit crunch are significant challenges, which may have a short term impact, but will not likely be a major negative influence when we are in ‘operation' mode.

Are you looking at another SmartCity location?

We expect to announce our next SmartCity location in 2009 and we're mainly looking at the regions of Asia Pacific, North Africa and the Middle East.

Countless market studies are carried out prior to considering a new SmartCity location, however, one of our main criteria to choosing a destination is that the government of that particular location shares SmartCity vision. Logistics, infrastructure, economic and legal factors are also key elements in the mix.

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