THE BEAUTY OF LOMBOK is comparable to Bali. It has enthralling beaches with their sand looking like ground pepper. Several property companies from United Arab Emirates are ready to invest US$600 million in the island. What are the prospects of property investment in Lombok?
For Emaar Properties LLC, a property firm from United Arab Emirates, and Dubai World Limitless, only sky is the limit to do business. Distance, time and even continent do not pose any problem to them. Their money will flow to whatever areas with promising investment prospects.
Emaar is committed to investing around US$600 to develop a tourist resort of 1,200 hectares in South Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara. A memorandum of understanding for the project was signed in April 2007 by Mohammad Syahrial as president director of PT. Perusahaan Pengelola Aset (PPA) on behalf of the Indonesian government, and Mohamed Ali Alabbar as chairman of Emaar Properties. The MoU signing was witnessed by Vice President Yusuf Kalla, minister of finance, minister of state enterprises, minister of transportation, minister of culture and tourism, special staff of the President in charge of the Middle East, West Nusa Tenggara governor, and UAE ambassador to Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Dubai World Limitless is also interested in investing in Lombok. At this time, investors from the Middle East have begun to direct their investments to Asia. Indonesia’s minister of culture, Jero Watjik, said Emaar is very serious to invest in Lombok and has dispatched a special team to the island. He said the UAE firm itself will promote hotels and golf courses it is going to build in South Lombok. And, Emaar will cooperate with UAE’s airline, Emirates, to transport Middle East and Australian tourists to Lombok. Emaar and Emirates are owned by the UAE government. “They are committed to bringing into Lombok one million tourists per year,” Jero said.
Another Bali Beside its attractive investment climate, Lombok’s natural beauty is also so alluring to investors. Lombok Island is part of West Nusa Tenggara Province. It is separated from Bali to its west by the Straits of Lombok and from Sumbawa to its east by the Straits of Alas.
Lombok looks almost round with a “tail” on its southwestern part that is about 70 kilometers long. The island is about 5,435 sqm and ranks 108 in the list of the world’s islands in terms of size. Mataram is the largest city on Lombok, which is also the capital of West Nusa Tenggara Province.
Many say that Lombok is another Bali. It has clean beaches and big waves, and also is quiet and exotic. With all these attrative elements, Lombok, notably West Lombok, has become a tourist attraction for local and overseas visitors. Lombok is attractive not only because of its natural potentials but also because transportation to the island is relatively easy and cheap, and alternative transportation means are many. Lombok has Mount Rinjani, a volcano whose height is 3,726 meters above sea level, making it Indonesia’s third highest volcano.
There are three small islands off West Lombok with Trawangan being the largest. Trawangan is a hilly island whose top is quite high above sea level. It is 3 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide, and has a population of around 800 people. The island has the most varying tourist facilities. Tir na Nog shop claims that Trawangan is a tiny island in the world that houses an Irish bar. Most of the Trawangan people reside in the eastern part of the island. Trawangan provides a ‘feast’ atmosphere as compared with the other two islands – Gili Meno and Gili Air – because feasts take place all night and are held in different places in rotation.
The most popular activities carried out by tourists on the island is scuba diving, which is PADI-certified, snorkeling in the eastern seawaters, kayak rowing and surfing. Several places on the island offer visitors to learn horse riding around the island. There is no motorized car on Trawang and the other two islands. But the local people rent out to visitors bicycles and horse carriages called “cidomo”, which are also found in Lombok.
The local people use motorized boats including speedboats to travel from and to the three islands. Gili Menok is located between Gili Trawang and Gili Air. It takes visitors 45 minutes to reach the island from Mataram with motorboat. Gili Menok has pusuk monkeys and protected dense forests. It also has a bird park that houses rare birds from different parts of Indonesia and from other countries. The island’s beaches have white sand and are still natural.
Meanwhile, Gili Air is the island nearest to Lombok. It has beaches with white sand and quite vast areas of coral reefs. Gili Air has the biggest village as compared with the other two islands. Star and non-star hotels are found on the island. Area restaurants offer different kinds of foods ranging from Lombok’s traditional foods to European foods. International airport Regardless of all else, property investment will not develop in Lombok if the ongoing international airport project in Central Lombok is not completed soon.
The Indonesian government therefore is trying to accelerate the building of the facility and has set a target to complete it by 2009. An international airport, or Lombok International Aiport (BIL), will give so great support to the development of tourism and property investment in West Nusa Tenggara Province. BIL will make it much easier for foreign visitors to come to Lombok, which is located near Bali. Big number of tourists surely will require adequate supply of related property, and subsequently will increase property investment in West Nusa Tenggara. (HUS)