Thu, 31 Dec 2009
From: The Jakarta Globe
By Janeman Latul
Government officials on Wednesday appeared to distance themselves from Dubai-based Emaar Properties’ $600 million mega-resort project in Lombok, ahead of today’s deadline to finalize the deal.

“It’s better to call Emaar directly, I’m sorry,” Alwi Shihab, the special presidential envoy to the Middle East, said when asked about the project’s future. Alwi has been at the helm of efforts to land the deal.

The Lombok project, announced with great fanfare by former Vice President Jusuf Kalla in May 2007, envisioned a 1,200-hectare development that would transform the Kuta and Tanjung A’an beaches into a world-class resort run by a joint venture between Emaar, the state-owned Bali Tourism Development Corp. and local governments.

According to documents from talks between the parties, poor access to roads and communications, land acquisition issues, and disputes over stakes in the venture, soured Emaar on the deal.

Dubai’s debt crisis may also be putting pressure on Emaar, which declined to comment on when contacted by the Jakarta Globe.

On June 18 the parties extended the joint-venture agreement until Dec. 31, giving the government extra time to fulfill Emaar’s conditions.

Hilmi Gasim, Alwi’s assistant, said there was no agreement yet to extend the investment plan.

“Communication between Emaar and BTDC is still good. I think the plan could still go forward,” Hilmi said.

I Made Mandra, BTDC’s chief executive, did not respond to repeated attempts to reach him on Wednesday.

“We’re still waiting for certainty on Emaar’s investment,” said Eko Bambang Sutedjo, from the West Nusa Tengarra government.



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