Looking Eastward

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Dubai World's property development subsidiary Limitless has clinched another major deal in Asia, signing on with Indian developer DLF for a $12bn mixed-use real estate project outside of the Indian city of Bangalore.

Announced on October 2, the project will involve developing a satellite city 35 kilometres to the southwest of Bangalore, the heartland of India's information technology industry.

When completed in 2016, Bidadi Knowledge City - as the new centre will be known, will house around 750,000 people and is intended to be a self-sustaining community covering 4000 hectares combining residential, commercial and retail developments.

The Limitless-DLF consortium beat out 31 other bidders, representing more than 100 companies, for the tender held by the Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Development Authority.

After the results of the tender were made public, Saeed Ahmed Saeed, Limitless' CEO, said, "India is currently experiencing the biggest urban migration it has ever seen. [...] We see this is an opportunity to demonstrate our core strengths in terms of planning, development and execution of large-scale projects."

The aim of the Bidadi project is not just to house some of those migrating to urban centres but to further develop Bangalore's information technology credentials and attract Indian and international companies to the region.

Founded in 2005 as the real estate development arm of Dubai World, the company was given the remit to diversify and globalise its state-owned parent's portfolio. Of late, much of Limitless' focus has been on the Far East, with the company announcing a series of new projects in Vietnam, Pakistan and elsewhere in India and establishing offices in China and Hong Kong.

Limitless already has a presence in the Indian market, having joining forces with local property developer Akruti Nirman in early September to bid for a project to redevelop the run down Dharavi of the city of Mumbai, a project that foresees the replacing of nearly 60,000 slum dwellings with improved housing and commercial developments.

In June, the company was signed up by the Pakistani government to lead a project to redevelop a 25,000-hectare sight on the Karachi waterfront, its first major international venture. The initial stage of the project calls for the redevelopment of 2000 hectares of waterfront land through a $20bn investment.

Along with residential, business and shopping hubs, the Karachi project calls for the creation of special economic zones aimed at catering for trading, manufacturing and services industries.

Limitless has reached well beyond the Indian subcontinent, expanding its reach ever eastwards. In early September, the company announced it would be investing $220m to build a series of hotels and luxury apartments in Vietnam, including the Halong Star, a 125-hectare development on Vietnam's northeast coast that will include a 250-room five star hotel.

Dubai World's chairman, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, said the move into the Vietnamese market was in line with the corporation's strategy to strengthen its position in the region.

"Limitless was established with the aim of capitalising on Dubai's real estate experience by developing distinctive projects around the world," he said.

With an eye to the Chinese market, Limitless has also set up two new firms to directly handle its affairs in the region, Limitless World China in Hong Kong and the Shanghai-based Limitless Consultancy Company.

With Beijing having announced plans to create 750 cities over the next 15 years, Limitless is clearly looking for a piece of the action.

"The Far East and Southeast Asia are exciting, dynamic regions for Limitless," said Mark Jared, Limitless' business development director for China. "Our projects in this part of the world will represent a sizeable chunk of our global portfolio of developments."

Dubai may have made the news for creating resort islands shaped like various countries from around the world, but an almost limitless number of developments in countries in the East will be shaped by Dubai.

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