British expats and investors drawn to Malaysian metropolis

A house at Iskandar Malaysia, a development which is expected to employ over one million people

A huge development three times the size of Singapore is taking shape across the border in Malaysia, bringing with it hundreds of thousands of jobs, new homes and international schools.  -By Justin Harper

Iskandar Malaysia will feature five different zones – including a waterfront financial district and a huge industrial park. Its flagship Nusajaya zone will host Pinewood Studios, Legoland and the first Asian outlet of the prestigious Marlborough College, whose alumni include Kate Middleton.

About £15.5 billion has been committed to the Iskandar Malaysia project so far, of which £6 billion is foreign investment. In the financial district Royal Bank of Scotland, Citi and Standard Chartered will all take office space.

Foreign investors are not just being encouraged but expat families and students too. Along with Marlborough College, Raffles American School, Newcastle University and the University of Southampton will all open campuses.

It is expected that when Iskandar Malaysia reaches maturity in 2025, the region will employ 1.4 million people. This involves the creation of 800,000 new jobs.

The £84 million Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios film and television production facility is expected to create more than 3,000 jobs. It is expected to open in 2013.

A spokesman for Iskandar Malaysia said: “The UK and Malaysia have always shared strong ties, both politically and economically, even after Malaysia achieved its independence. With Iskandar Malaysia, the relationship between the two countries has progressed and strengthened. Newcastle Malaysia Medical University was the first educational institution to invest here, followed by Marlborough College, Reading University and Southampton University – and we anticipate many more.”

The five zones consist of both greenfield and brownfield sites – Iskandar Malaysia will incorporate the existing city of Johor Baru.

Sally Ann Wilkinson, a spokesman for Merlin Entertainments Group, which owns Legoland, said: “This is a great location close to the key markets of Singapore as well as Malaysia and the fast-growing leisure destination Iskandar – and we are confident that it will be a huge success. Asia is a very important development area for Merlin – with enormous potential for quality leisure attractions. We are already looking at a number of other potential projects for all our brands in the region, including several other sites for Legoland Parks for example in Korea.”

Both the theme park and Marlborough College are due to open in the autumn of 2012.

Thousands of homes are planned for the development which is expected to attract expats from neighbouring Singapore looking for cheaper properties to buy and rent.