PM opens SmartCity with promise of ‘renaissance’
SmartCity Malta’s first office block was inaugurated yesterday, three years after the announcement of the ambitious project held out as the country’s “biggest foreign direct investment”.
The project at Ricasoli is some 12 months ahead of schedule, with the opening of the block marking the end of the first phase and paving the way for four new buildings.
Spread over 12,000 square metres, offering “smart” office space for international and local companies, SCM01 marked “the realisation of a dream that sees Malta become a regional and global player in ICT”, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said at the inauguration.
The milestone, he said, marked the “beginning of a renaissance period for the area, for Malta and for our economy”.
The state-of-the-art building was a symbol of Malta’s investment attractiveness, he said at the ceremony described as celebrating an “economic and national transformation”.
But SmartCity Malta also needed to be accompanied by strategic reforms at a national level that would allow the economy to embrace the transformation. Its success and the ability to continue attracting foreign investment depended on the capacity to continue providing skilled human resources, Dr Gonzi said.
Infrastructure and Communications Minister Austin Gatt thanked the many stakeholders, who “recognised Malta for what we believe it is: a place to do business, work hard, take risks, prosper and share that with employees, suppliers, contractors and the community”.
Malta, he said, was emerging from the financial crisis by inaugurating “a new city whose mission is business and whose vocation is jobs for those who want to do what the tough are good at: work hard and live well”.
With a minimum investment outlay of US$300 million, SmartCity Malta is expected to generate 5,600 jobs and create 158,830 square metres of office space for ICT and media operators. It was the first overseas project of Dubai-based Tecom Investments, which launched Dubai Internet City, its first business park, 10 years ago.
Tecom Investments is a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, whose CEO Ahmad Bin Byat yesterday said the building was testimony to the strong bond that existed between the company and the government.
The infrastructure, he said, was only the beginning and the work to reap the economic benefits had just started. The aim was to develop SmartCity Malta into a major new centre of excellence for knowledge-based companies.
It was equipped with the most advanced and reliable ICT and power infrastructure in Malta, with a network of dual fibre optic cables for telecom services and dual power supply installed throughout the township to ensure business continuity.
Following the inauguration ceremony, which ended with a fireworks display, the Prime Minister and Dr Gatt toured the building, accompanied by Tecom Investment Group CEO Abdullatif Al Mulla and SmartCity CEO Fareed Abdulrahman.