It is understood that recent political turmoil in the country has been the cause of the deadlock.

“We are still in the negotiation process and it has not been concluded with the government,” says Saeed Ahmed Saeed, chief executive officer of Limitless.

Without a final agreement, it is unclear whether the proposed project will go ahead. “It is very difficult to say,” says Saeed. “The problem is with them. They need to make a decision quickly.”

The project was launched in 2006 as a joint initiative of Limitless and the government of Pakistan and involves developing a 250-square-kilometre city close to Karachi, based around a man-made harbour.

It will include residential, commercial and entertainment facilities, and will be home to special economic zones creating a hub for trading, manufacturing and service industries.

The planned centrepiece of the city development is a 590-metre tall tower known as the 1947 Tower to mark the date of Pakistan’s independence.

The AED73.4bn ($20bn) first phase of the scheme was expected to involve the development of more than 20 sq km of waterfront property over 10 years.

Subsequent phases of the project would involve much larger investments, with some estimates putting the total cost of the development at up to $68bn.