Gulf investment in Malaysia is expected to grow by $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) this year as the result of an investment and tourism promotion campaign, said the Malaysian director general of tourism.
By the end of 2008, Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said he expected Gulf investment to hit $3.4bn Dh12.5bn) and to grow even further to $6.19bn by 2012. Currently, the UAE is the second largest Gulf investor in the Southeast Asian nation, after Saudi Arabia. Trade between the UAE and Malaysia stood at $3.7bn in 2007, up from $3.1bn the previous year. And the largest UAE project currently underway is the $1.2bn development of the Iskandar Malaysia industrial region. Taiyab said Iskandar Malaysia allows 100 per cent ownership of shares and tax exemption for 10 years. It also allows exemption from technical fees and freedom to obtain capital from international financial institutions. "Malaysia has encouraging economic development with low rates of inflation and unemployment as well a big monetary reserves," he added.
In May, Malaysia launched an investment and tourism campaign in the UAE, Kuwait and Oman to attract holidaymakers and investors. Officials, according to Taiyab, expect the number of Middle Eastern tourists to increase this year as a result of the campaign to 400,000, from the 350,000 who visited in 2007. Tourists from the Middle East are particularly valuable for development, he noted, because they spend on average three times more than European holidaymakers. Malaysian tourism is the second largest contributor to GDP after industry – bringing in around $15bn each year, while industry rakes in $60bn. In 1996, the "Malaysia My Second Home" initiative, which allows foreign nationals to own property, was launched to attract investment.
Under the programme, owners are then extended a renewable 10-year visa.