Multi-billion rand KZN venture in the pipeline

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

KwaZulu-Natal is to benefit from a multibillion-rand investment from a Dubai-based consortium.

The project, announced by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele yesterday, is expected to create 16000 full-time jobs.

Ndebele said the Dubai-based destination development specialist, Ruwaad, presented a draft plan to the KwaZulu-Natal executive council earlier yesterday outlining the proposed development.

The initial investment is for a R19,4 billion (2,5 billion US dollar) entertainment theme park and mixed-use residential complex on 16556 hectares of land north of the UThukela River.

"The presentation was favourably received by the executive council, particularly as it has significant potential to drive economic growth and job creation in an under-developed part of the province," said Ndebele.

He said the impact on total output in the finance and business services sector was expected to be R11,6billion, R73billion and R118, 3billion.

"The development is expected to increase total output in the farming sector by about R247million a year and R390million a year in the medium and long terms respectively."

It is also envisaged that the development will bring about the improvement of infrastructure and services in the area. This will in turn strengthen the local economy and stimulate increased investment across various industrial and commercial sectors.

He said the group was also planning a cultural and historical focus for the development, centred around a statue of King Shaka Zulu KaSenzangakhona.

"It is envisaged that if the development gets the go-ahead, it will be implemented in a series of stages, with the first stage, the theme park, likely to be completed in 2012."

Ruwaad, a subsidiary of the listed Dubai 9 group, is a real estate, hospitality, tourism investment and development company that focuses on creating world-class destinations, initially in the Middle East, Australia, Africa and Asia.

"Our aim is to develop a uniquely African, world-class destination that has local, regional, national, continental and international appeal," said Ruwaad group chief executive officer Hayan Merchant.