A government official said late on Thursday that the planned $600 million tourism megaproject on Lombok Island may finally go forward, after a high-level meeting in the United Arab Emirates with the chairman of Dubai-based Emaar Properties.
“The meeting was very positive,” said Hilmi Gasim, an assistant to Alwi Shihab, the president’s special envoy to the Middle East. “The project will surely take off and fly now.”
Alwi and Sofyan Djalil, the state minister of state enterprises, arrived in Dubai on Thursday to deliver a “take it or leave it” offer to Emaar’s Mohammed al-Alabar, ahead of the Friday deadline for clearing the project.
Alwi had previously said that ground would be broken on the beachfront project in Kuta and Tanhung A’an in the last three months, but that did not happen.
Hilmi, however, declined to reveal details of how the project would continue since it still faced hurdles, including assigning stakes in the PT Emaar Lombok joint venture and land acquisition issues.
“The spirit of the meeting was to go ahead fully with the project,” Hilmi said. “Just wait for a joint statement between the two parties on Monday.”
An Emaar spokesperson did not respond to the Jakarta Globe’s request for comment.
But provincial government officials said that they would remain skeptical until they saw ground broken on the project.
Badrul Munir, the vice governor of West Nusa Tenggara, which shares responsibility for the project, was critical of Emaar’s reluctance to get started despite some of the requirements already being met.
“We’ll do anything as long as they’re serious about starting the project. Emaar is the only investment getting so much support in our province,” he said, adding that the local government had pushed forward construction on both Lombok’s international airport and an access road to the property.
Gusmin Tuarita, provincial chief of the National Land Agency (BPN), also expressed concern about Emaar’s resolve, saying: “Until we see action from Emaar, we will still have doubts.”
Hermanto Dardak, director general of highways at the Public Works Ministry, said that he hoped Emaar would begin the project as soon as possible because the ministry had already made infrastructure commitments to the property developer.
“The Public Works Ministry had given out two guarantee letters in September and November,” Hermanto said, adding that the ministry had allocated Rp 48 billion ($4.6 million) for an access road to be completed by 2010.
“I hope Emaar starts the project soon so the ministry can see a return on its investment.”