The Jakarta Post
Relocating a capital is a gargantuan national project, and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has enlisted three renowned international figures to help.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al Nahyan, chief executive officer of a Japan-based diversified conglomerate, the Softbank Group, Masayoshi Son, and former British prime minister Tony Blair have all accepted Jokowi's invitation to be part of Indonesia's steering committee for the new capital city.
On Friday, Jokowi explained that the move was aimed at securing the trust of foreign investors, as the government sought to finance the projects with contributions from the private sector.
The new capital is projected to cost the country Rp 466 trillion (US$34.06 billion), one fifth of which will be funded with the state budget.
Aside from the financial motive, Jokowi mentioned that the three figures had experience developing capitals.
"Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed has experience reconstructing Abu Dhabi, building a new city called Masdar City, [...] Masayoshi Son has a good reputation in technology and finance [and] Tony Blair has a good reputation in governance," said the President, who previously served as Jakarta governor and Surakarta mayor.
On the same occasion, Jokowi said that the steering committee members would not be paid for their assistance, as reported by tempo.co.
Below are short profiles of the three global figures:
Mohammad bin Zayed al Nahyan (MbZ)
The 58-year-old MbZ is "one of the most powerful men on Earth", according to The New York Times. MbZ has carried out day to day decisions in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates that comprise the UAE, since his half-brother, UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, suffered a stroke in 2014.
According to the Crown Prince Court's official website, MbZ studied at Scottish boarding school Gordonstoun before going to the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. After graduating, he carried out several roles in the UAE military and now serves as Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Under his leadership, the UAE has turned into one of the most significant regional powers on the Arabian peninsula. MbZ also chairs the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, which is responsible for the initiative Plan Abu Dhabi 2030.
When Son was 24, he founded SoftBank Group Corp., a holding company that would later become a giant of information technology and telecommunication. SoftBank ranked 13th on Forbes' Top 100 Digital Companies 2019. Its investment portfolio includes Yahoo! Japan, Tokopedia and WeWork. Son was also an early investor in Alibaba.
Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, Son turned his attention to renewable energy at home and abroad. In 2017, media reports stated that Son would be working with Saudi Arabia on the development of a megacity dubbed Neom.
In 2018, Son and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced a massive solar power project aiming to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil. According to CNN, the initial investment alone required US$ 5 billion.
The British politician was a Labour Party leader and served as Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Blair was responsible for revamping the Labour Party's platform and establishing the party’s support for the integration of the United Kingdom into the European Union.
Under his leadership, Britain enjoyed steep economic growth. He oversaw the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which ended the conflict in Northern Ireland. Blair also introduced the first elected Mayor of London and led the city to win a bid for the 2012 Olympics.
After leaving office, he founded the Institute for Global Change, which focused on governance, counter-extremism and peace in the Middle East. Through the institute, Blair has helped development in several states, namely Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Ghana.
Who will finance the new capital?
An estimate puts the cost of building the capital city at $34.06 billion. National Planning Agency (Bappenas) head Bambang Brodjonegoro said in August last year that the private sector would finance most of the cost through public-private partnership (PPP) schemes.
The PPP schemes will make up approximately 54.4 percent of the budget. This will be used to fund the construction of government offices, courts, schools, hospitals, correctional facilities and other related infrastructure.
Over a quarter, or 26.4 percent, will be financed by the private sector to build public housing, universities, shopping malls and improve existing infrastructure like airports and toll roads.
The remaining 19.2 percent is expected to be covered by the state budget and will primarily be used to build basic infrastructure, a new state palace and a military base, as well as to acquire new land.
According to Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, in a meeting with Jokowi on Jan. 10, Son offered to invest between $30 billion and $40 billion.
The government is also preparing a sovereign wealth fund to finance the capital city, which so far has attracted the UAE, SoftBank and United States International Development Finance Corporation. During Jokowi's visit to the Gulf state, it was announced that the UAE government had prepared US$22.8 billion for investment in Indonesia.