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Interview | Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A smart guy for ‘SmartCity Malta’

After months of speculation triggered by a lull in communication, SmartCity Malta’s new acting CEO Fareed Abdulrahman breaks the silence and proves to be totally different to his predecessor. In an interview with KARL STAGNO-NAVARRA, he assures that the project is on schedule and insists for the Maltese to develop a sense of ownership to the project that is set to put Malta at the heart of the new upcoming economy.

SmartCity Malta is not only the largest foreign investment to come to this country, but is also the single largest job creation initiative in Malta’s history. Over an eight-year period, SmartCity Malta is committed to creating 5,600 jobs – spanning from jobs created in Malta’s knowledge-industry, to new employment opportunities in management, hospitality, retail, security and logistics.
Work on the multi-million dollar project has started, with Mepa recently granting a side-wide grading approval for the contractors to level the entire surface and make way for the development.
“So here we are, with our full commitment to make this project a reality,” says Fareed Abdulrahman, SmartCity Malta acting CEO in a follow-up interview to his exclusive comments released to this paper just two weeks ago.
Fareed Abdulrahman, 36, has taken over from Claudio Grech who resigned his post last month, and has immediately proven to be a totally “hands-on” man to the project.
Already CEO to SmartCity Dubai, Fareed Abdulrahman has a lot on his plate, and his presence in Malta this week has proved that he is a mover and a doer.
“We may have been too silent before, but the time has come to assure the people of Malta that we are here and that we mean business,” he said, while adding that putting aside any other issues that may have led people to have any doubts on the project, “it is up to the Maltese people to develop a sense of ownership to the project.”
The project has already led to many local companies merge or enter joint-ventures to take on the enormity of the jobs entrusted, while millions of Euros in contracts are up for grabs.
Many jobs are being created in the process, in particular in the engineering, excavating, and construction sectors, and most are working round-the-clock to reach the specified deadlines.
Fareed Abdulrahman goes on to say that while all this is happening in Malta, the operators to the project are heavily marketing Malta to attract multinationals to operate from SmartCity Malta and the whole project involves the sale of both Malta and the project together.
“Any bad publicity, will simply reflect badly on Malta,” he stressed, adding that the millions of dollars that are to be invested in Malta – not to mention also the enormous opportunities for the creation of new jobs – are set to change the whole concept of Malta.
“The synergy of this partnership with the government of Malta will reflect the Dubai-based team’s proven track record in attracting renowned international brands in the creation of knowledge clusters comprising Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, and Dubai Knowledge Village. This will be a key ingredient for the triumph of the township in Malta,” he stressed.
“We are currently focusing all our energies on Malta,” Abdulrahman said, and insisted that by June of next year SmartCity Malta will release ready-to-operate state-of-the-art office space with intelligent infrastructure and landscaped surroundings.
This will be followed by the supporting release of residential and retail spaces.
The prominent emphasis on work-life balance will be evident in view of the wide-ranging value-added services and amenities that SmartCity Malta will offer.
Phase-1 of SmartCity Malta will provide a unique business and lifestyle experience, entailing a mix of components catering to the knowledge-based township’s demand for office space, shopping boulevards and residential units.
An impressive 20,034 sq meters allocated for the ICT and media sector will provide an enabling environment, intelligent infrastructure and premium support services.
SmartCity Malta’s offering of an exceptional blend of business and premium lifestyle will set it apart as the most preferred destination for local, regional and international companies aiming to set up operations and service European and North African markets. “I can tell you that there is a growing interest from all over the world, especially in Europe for SmartCity Malta, and during these past few months we have brought over a number of chairmen, CEO’s and also government officials from many countries to see our project,” Fareed Abdulrahman said.
What is striking is Abdulrahman’s foresight, and his vision for the project.
“Oh you just wait and see what is yet to come,” he says, while describing what one is to expect in just a few months time when Phase 1 will be up and running with the first tenants in the building.
“SmartCity will be the main focus that will put Malta at the forefront of the upcoming new economy, definitely making it a leader in Europe on all fronts,” he explained, while adding that the whole project will be a beacon to green architecture and business.
Fareed Abdulrahman is a man of action and insists that the project will serve as a global example of ecological conscience.
“We have a clear mandate from His Royal Highness the Emir of Dubai, that every government project must be certified to be green, and this is exactly what we are doing,” he stressed.
In the coming years, Ricasoli and the South-Eastern Coast of the island will be transformed into a new attraction featuring smart architecture and environmental-friendly landscaping features.
Before attending to another meeting, Fareed Abdulrahman assures me once again that all the contractual obligations undertaken with the Maltese government about this project will be thoroughly respected.
“Let there be no mistake: SmartCity Malta will be the pride of this country and we will be there to keep that promise.”

ksnavarra@mediatoday.com.mt

 

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21 October 2009
ISSUE NO. 604

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