The development of Kish island as a free zone and tourist destination has been boosted by new foreign investment in an island-based trade centre comprising offices, shopping malls and luxury apartments. Swiss developer Odette is planning to invest about $140 million in the construction of the complex, which is set to include four buildings. The local Kish Towers Company (KTC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Odette, is the project manager.

Work has been ongoing since early 2001 on the first phase of the project, which covers the construction of a 15-storey tower, comprising 80 offices spread across the first 10 floors, with the remaining five floors allocated for residential and commercial use. Both foreign and local investors are eligible to purchase office, residential or commercial space. Construction is due to be completed by early 2004. The contractor is the UAE’s Satal Contracting.

Odette says investment in the project’s first phase is expected to reach about $50 million. Phases 2-4 will see additional investment of about $90 million for the construction of another three towers.

The construction of the trade centre is part of a larger government scheme to establish the island as a regional hub for trade and tourism. Among other projects under construction are a new luxury hotel and a theme park.

Located about 17 kilometres off Iran’s Gulf coast, the Kish Free Zone Organisation (KFZO) has invested substantially in the infrastructure of the 91-square-kilometre island, which has a population of 18,000. It is understood that negotiations between KFZO and an international airline to act as consultant on the expansion of the island’s airport are at an advanced stage.