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BEIRUT-Rusd Investment Bank revealed plans for a 3.7-million-sf residential, shopping and hotel complex around the existing Dbayyeh marina, already expected to be the largest of its kind in the Mideast with a capacity of 700 yachts. Marina City Liban, the first large-scale development on a 6.5-million-sf sea reclamation project, will cost $326 million. The scheme will comprise nine residential towers, 350 apartments, 807,000 feet of retail, a five-star hotel and just over half a mile of seafront restaurants and retail outlets.

Rusd Investment Bank, a Malaysia-based Islamic institution, is backing the deal. The idea is to offer a 60% stake in Marina City Liban to investors through a Special Purpose Vehicle based in Malaysia.

The developers expect to start work on Marina City in January, with completion projected by 2007. In the meantime the bank is relying on a presidential decree that allows foreign investors to own the freehold on the site. The development is also expected to benefit from tax incentives offered by the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon. Last month, IDAL said $900 million worth of investments would soon be made public, with two projects in Dbayyeh and one in Beirut.

A record growth in tourism, up 38% over the first seven months of last year, is a major driver behind the development. The area has seen an influx of investment from Gulf Arabs and Lebanese expatriates post Sept. 11.

In addition to Marina City Liban, there are plans for of a $1.4-billion mountain resort, Sannine Zenith and proposals for Solidere, a multi-billion-dollar commercial project to rebuild Downtown Beirut, which also features an array of sizable marinas and shopping malls.

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