Abu Dhabi crown prince and Tony Blair to oversee Indonesia’s new capital development

The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has agreed to lead a committee overseeing the construction of Indonesia’s planned new capital city in the rainforests of East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, an Indonesian government minister said yesterday.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair and the billionaire founder of Japanese holding company SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, will also sit on the committee, the minister said.

"We expected their presence would provide a confidence boost for prospective investors in the new capital," said Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, in a statement reported by the Associated Press. 

The crown prince, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates’ Armed Forces, said it would be "an honour to play a role in the development of the largest Muslim-majority country", according to the statement.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo held talks with Sheikh Mohammed during a two-day trip to Abu Dhabi that ended on Monday. Those talks resulted in deals worth $23bn including a new petrochemical plant and a floating solar farm. 

The Indonesian government began studying Kalimantan as the location for a new capital in March last year.

Jakarta, the country’s existing capital, faces numerous challenges including overcrowding, congestion and subsidence, thanks to the fact it is built on a swamp. A recent study warned that a quarter of the city could be under water by 2025, partly as a result of unregulated groundwater extraction. 

The new city slated for sparsely populated East Kalimantan province is estimated to cost $34bn, according to the Associated Press, with much of the finance expected to come from private sector investment.

Photograph: Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed at the Qasr Al Watan Palace in Abu Dhabi (From the Twitter feed of President Joko Widodo)

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