R19bn tourist project set for KZN


The investors who have played a critical role in turning Dubai from a desert to what it is today, are now going to create “a new beginning” for the province, Premier Sbu Ndebele has said.

And what they envisage for the 16 556ha of rolling hills and 20km of coastline on the northern side of the uThukela River in the Macambini area will be “really phenomenal”, Wezi Thusi, the provincial minister of Arts, Culture and Tourism said later.

Their multi-billion rand “complete city” project (it has not yet got a name) has the full support of the provincial cabinet and will represent one of the largest foreign direct investment developments in Africa.

The world-class, gigantic flagship development “city within a city and a total destination” will attract international as well as domestic tourists. Cruise liner passengers will also be targeted.

It will say, “come to KwaZulu-Natal”, the premier said yesterday.

Initially, the investment by the world-renowned destination development specialist, Ruwaad (a subsidiary of the listed Dubai 9 group) will be a whopping $2.5 billion (R19.4billion), but that is just the start.

Such developments “almost never stop”, said Darrell Metzger, the chief executive of Ruwaad’s destination developments department, who was in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, along with Hayan Merchant, the group chief executive and other members of the high-powered Ruwaad team to present a draft plan about the project to the provincial Cabinet.


The cabinet heard that Ruwaad would be developing an internationally branded theme park, which would be complemented by hospitality, residential, leisure, medical, education, sport, health and retail facilities. One attraction would be a tourism medical centre, where visitors would be able to go to recuperate after surgery.

An important “must see” attraction would be a “huge” iconic statue of King Shaka.

Almost 16 000 direct and indirect jobs will be created, and Ndebele said this was equivalent to about 16 000 full-time or 32 000 half-day jobs a year in the short term.

The stability in the region and the new international airport were among the factors which had attracted Ruwaad to the region.