The Punjab government will sign memoranda of understanding (MoUs) worth $1 billion at Expo 2020 Dubai this month that will help accelerate work on multi-billion development projects in Lahore, a top official says. Imran Amin, chief executive officer of Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda), said Expo 2020 Dubai is a wonderful event offering immense business potential to participating nations.
"Expo is an excellent platform to connect 190-plus nations at one place. We have very fruitful discussions with local investors and Pakistani diaspora to invest in over $9 billion Ruda project," Amin told Khaleej Times during an interview on the sideline of an event hosted by Pakistan Association Dubai.
Elaborating, he said Ravi Urban Development Authority will collaborate with Dubai Sustainable City to develop a similar infrastructure at Ruda for sustainability.
"We want to replicate the success of Dubai business model in Pakistan. Today, we are at the same stage where Dubai was 15 to 20 years ago," Amin said.
In addition, he said Ruda is also working on Masdar sustainable business model and will incorporate some of its key features in the development.
CBD, Ruda game changing projects
Amin said Central Business District (CBD) and Ruda are flagship projects of the Punjab government and designed in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Both the projects will prove game changer and contribute significant share to economy and jobs creation.
"We are going to develop a vertical city in CBD for the first time in the province. You will see up to 120 mid- to high-rise buildings in CBD in next three to five years as infrastructure development work has already been initiated," he said.Elaborating Ruda key features and timeline, he said this multi-billion development will be completed in three phases by 2035.
"Lahore will have a 46km Riverfront development, the world’s longest riverfront with a total area of 102,000 acres. The fist phase, which is expected to complete by 2025, will see development of six specialised cities namely residential, medical, commercial, mixed-use, downtown and urban farms," he said.
Phase two of the project will be completed in two stages by 2030. Governmental and financial city will be developed in stage one while innovation city comprising of five zones will be taken up in second stage, he said.
"Three major cities -- sports city, eco city and knowledge city -- are part of the third phase that is expected to complete by 2035," Amin said.
Financing no more an issue
Amin said financing of CBD and Ravi Urban Development is no more an issue as the government has chalked out a comprehensive strategy to realise these projects as per schedule.
"We have firm commitments from local and international investors who are keen to be part of these flagship projects. Some of the major commitments are signed at Expo 2020 and more are in the pipeline," he said.
"We are also going to hold roadshows in Qatar and Malaysia very soon as we received a lot of interests from overseas Pakistanis and investors there," he added.
Moreover, the provincial government has also allocated “reasonable funds” for the development of these two projects, he said.
Amin said CBD and Ravi Urban development even attracted interests from neighbouring country Afghanistan.
"Afghan investors have also shown interest in the two projects," he said.
Overseas Pakistanis role
Amin said over nine million Pakistani diaspora worldwide is one of the biggest assets of the country and play key role in development of the country.
"Non-resident Pakistanis are welcome to invest in CBD and Ravi urban development project and be a part of the successful ventures of the country," he said.
"We will offer special packages and incentives to overseas Pakistanis as they are backbone of the national economy," he said.
To a question, he said Pakistani investors especially in Dubai, US and Europe will help bring international brands in the country
"We have made good progress in talks on the sideline of Expo 2020 to catch the attention of some leading brands in hospitality, technology, infrastructure and financial sectors," he said.
$10 billion PE fund on cards
Amin said the government is finalising a plan to set up a $10 billion private equity fund to invest in mega projects.
"The fund will invest in mega developments such as CBD, Ravifront development and renewable energy, among others," he said.
"Overseas Pakistanis can also invest in this private equity fund and part of the country’s successful ventures," he said.
He said Pakistan offers immense investment opportunities especially in information technology, real estate, construction and housing sectors.
"Future is in Pakistan. We come up with futuristic and game-changing projects that can attract foreign investors as well as nine million-plus diaspora across the world," Amin concluded.