Dato’ Wan, an astute figure behind UEM Land – master developer of Nusajaya.
Dato’ Wan Exclusive
During our unraveling of the Iskandar Malaysia theorem in our Special November – December issue of Home Finder, we had the chance to ask Dato’ Wan Abdullah Wan Ismail, Managing Director and Chief Execute Officer of UEM Land Bhd his views on Nusajaya – Iskandar’s star region in the eyes of many.
With UEM Land being the master developer in this area, Dato’ Wan was the perfect candidate to answer our questions.
Home Finder: In developing the Nusajaya master plan, what were the main focuses or critical points to make it a success?
Dato’ Wan: Nusajaya was conceptualized to draw together the best in practices, standards and human capital. UEM Land Bhd is building a modern city with a focus on enhancing the economy and enriching lives in seven key sectors – government, residential, commercial, leisure, industrial, health and wellness as well as education.
UEM Land has also put in place Nusajaya’s signature developments that will act as key drivers to create a robust economic hub and employment opportunities that are necessary for sustained growth. This makes an attractive investment proposition not only for Malaysians, but also for foreign investors because of its ideal location and excellent connectivity.
HF: How is Nusajaya unique and what are these catalytic projects?
Dato’ Wan: It’s a metropolis in the making. 24,000 acres of contiguous development-ready land is an ideal launch pad from where entrepreneurs and investors can tap an Asian consumer market of more than three billion people, all within a six-hour flight radius of the city. Spearheading the fulfillment of Nusajaya’s vision are eight signature developments; which includes:
- Puteri Harbour – the international award-winning urban integrated waterfront and marina development.
- Kota Iskandar – the picturesque Johor state government new administrative center.
- Medini Iskandar Malaysia – the 2,300-acre integrated city development comprising four components namely leisure and lifestyle (including Legoland Malaysia), Medini Business, Medini Central and Medini South.
- EduCity – hosts local and international educational institutions as well as three purpose-built university campuses equipped with accommodation and recreational facilities.
- Southern Industrial and Logistics Clusters (SiLC) – the ‘green’ and ‘clean’ managed industrial park which houses BioXcell, Malaysia’s first dedicated biotechnology park.
- Afiat Healthpark – a comprehensive medical park offering modern, traditional, complementary medicine and wellness.
- International Destination Resort – a complete destination resort anchored by an international standard themed park and other themed attractions.
- Nusajaya Residences – Offering award-winning residential developments with its own unique features to appeal to the discerning needs of its target audience, and further complemented by modern amenities, safety and security features, comprehensive infrastructure, business opportunities and a pleasant environment.
UEM Land’s residential offerings include East Ledang, luxury garden residences; Horizon Hills, golf residential development; Nusa Idaman, hillside residences and Nusa Bayu high quality affordable homes.
HF: With all these developments taking shape, how does Singapore play a part in the overall success of Nusajaya? And in turn, how does Nusajaya affect Singapore?
Dato’ Wan: The story of Singapore’s economic boom is one of the success stories of the 20th century. The Island Republic has handled its limited resources well and created a robust economy that is still posting impressive growth rates. However, the reality of the situation is that Singapore is a country constrained by its physical size; this issue will become even more pressing as it engineers its population growth for economic reasons.
Nusajaya provides the perfect solution to Singapore’s looming issues by providing what it needs most: space, accessibility and a lower cost of living and doing business. Despite concerns that Nusajaya would compete with Singapore, it is when the two harmonize and work together that the greatest benefits are to be gained.
Work on new Johor state administrative center Kota Iskandar continues.
Welcome to Puteri Harbour.
HF: Surely with all these developments, players are now looking at Iskandar with genuine interest. So how has the investment side performed thus far for Nusajaya?
Dato’ Wan: Since launching in February 2007, Nusajaya garnered diverse local and international interest. This has materialized into investments in our eight catalyst developments from across the globe including the Middle Eastern, Asian, American and European nations and not forgetting top local investor commitments.
Bio-XCell, Malaysia’s first biotechnology park, a joint venture between UEM land and Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation, has made great strides recently and has successfully secured a host of well known biotechnology companies such as Biocon Ltd, Metabolic Explorer, Glycos Biotechnologies and Strides Arcolab to invest in Bio-XCell.
Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB), our sister company held by Khazanah Nasional, Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (EPF) and the Johor State Government, is a major player that is helping us realize the vision for Nusajaya by undertaking catalytic projects pure private sector investors would not be able to undertake. IIB is developing EduCity and has signed up with a host of international universities including Newcastle University, University of Southampton as well as the Netherlands Maritime Institute to establish their top ranked faculties in Nusajaya, as well as Marlborough College Malaysia, the first international venture for the leading British independent and co-education boarding school.
Another IIB project is Medini Iskandar Malaysia where Asia’s first Legoland theme park is slated to open its doors in 2012. Medini will also have a Gleneagles Medini hospital as well as the investment from Pulau Indah Ventures Sdn Bhd, the joint venture company between Khazanah and Temasek, to develop two sites within Medini – one in Medini North and the other in the Heritage Cluster within Medini Central.
Over and above all that, a number of top Malaysian developers already have a presence in Nusajaya. SP Setia was one of the first investors in Nusajaya when they bought land in the mid-1990s and established Bukit Indah. Today, Bukit Indah is one of the more mature townships within Nusajaya with a bustling commercial centre anchored by the likes of Aeon (Jusco), Tesco and Giant. Other local developers who are involved in Nusajaya include KSL, Country View, Encorp, Crescendo Corporation, Binaik as well as our joint venture partners such as Gamuda (Horizon Hills), Bandar Raya Developments Bhd (Residential North, Puteri Harbour) and United Malayan Land Bhd (Somerset Puteri Harbour).
HF: All this is good news, but what about the smaller players?
Dato’ Wan: Besides the presence of global players, Nusajaya has also been enjoying strong support from customers of the middle and lower middle income groups. In October 2010, we launched Nusa Bayu, a residential development aimed at providing quality value-for-money homes, and is targeted especially for first-time house buyers.
We will continue studying the market to ensure we produce a range of quality market-driven products. It is vital to emphasize excellence in products and services for value creation as well as to remain ahead of the competition.
HF: How will Nusajaya affect business and lifestyle?
Dato’ Wan: As the key flagship zone of Iskandar Malayisa, the development of Nusajaya will open up a profusion of opportunities not just for its inhabitants but this will also have a positive ripple effect on the entire state of Johor.
All aspects of Nusajaya both in the short and long terms have been thoroughly planned to be sustainable, bringing together the best the world has to offer in terms of business, living and leisure. With its signature developments, Nusajaya will stimulate the economy of the Southern region creating new jobs, conveniences and homes for the people.
The view from Puteri Harbour’s marina, Kota Iskandar can be seen in the background.
HF: At what stage is Nusajaya in right now and when will it hit its tipping point?
Dato’ Wan: Our efforts over the last few years are starting to bear fruit with all of the signature developments identified in Nusajaya’s Development Master Plan now well under way. Today, Kota Iskandar, the Johor state new administrative centre is already operational with 2,200 state government employees now working there. Construction works have also started for the indoor theme park, Traders Hotel and a block of boutique apartments in Puteri Harbour with completion targeted in 2012.
Meanwhile, both SiLC and Bio-XCell are enjoying strong interest while the other signature projects in Nusajaya undertaken by Iskandar Investment Bhd are also progressing well with key components such as the Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia campus, the Coastal Highway, Legoland Theme Park and Marlborough College all targeted to be completed in 2011 and 2012.
We will also continuously introduce new projects to further spur Nusajaya’s growth. Some of the projects in our pipeline include Northern Estuary, a new eco-themed up-market residential precinct adjacent to Puteri Harbour, and Nusajaya West.
Nusajaya is currently on track to achieve its targeted ‘tipping point’ in 2012 with the significant progress of our signature developments. The completion of all these diverse but complementary development components will create a new demand structure that will trigger further investments and developments and propel Nusajaya on a new growth trajectory and opportunities for the world to be part of this ‘World in One City’.
HF: What are some of the challenges you foresee ahead for Nusajaya?
Dato’ Wan: Time as they say waits for no one and time is our biggest challenge. 2012, which is just around the corner, will be a test for us in achieving our ‘tipping point’. In spite of the progress at Nusajaya, we still have our work cut out for us to honor and deliver promises made to our stakeholders – to ensure that all necessary ingredients for the regional city are in place and for Nusajaya to truly come alive.
Another major concern for us is the global economic environment. Today, everything is interconnected and a prolonged global economic downturn will definitely impact the pace of developments in Nusajaya. Having said that, our relatively low cost base and the fact that Nusajaya is reaching its tipping point in 2012 may help shelter us from the worst.
Besides that, the expectations of consumers have evolved tremendously over the past few years. As consumers demand for higher standards, it is imperative that we meet or surpass what is expected of them. This subsequently creates customer loyalty as consumers have the confidence that we will go that extra mile to raise the bar of excellence. We want our customers and the public to associate us with being a provider of an unparalleled lifestyle from our products and services offerings.
To move forward and ensure there is continuity of development in Nusajaya, we have been investing in a lot of time to get our strategic plans right in making sure that the group is able to continue to deliver high quality communities in a market place that is under considerable cost pressures. This is where effective planning and execution as well as creativity will separate the leaders from the followers in the property development industry.