Plans for maritime institute in Iskandar Malaysia

Johor: Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) has inked a collaborative agreement with two institutions from Netherlands to start talks on a plan to set up a world class Dutch Maritime Institute at EduCity @ Iskandar.

Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz (MIWB) and Maritime Institute de Ruyter (MIR) have agreed to work with IIB to explore the possibility of setting up an internationally recognised maritime institute in Iskandar Malaysia.

Managing Director Of IIB, Arlida Ariff, said establishing Asia's first Dutch Maritime Institute in Iskandar Malaysia will go a long way towards raising the standards of maritime education in Malaysia to a higher level.

"It would also help facilitate knowledge transfer from the two world renowned Dutch maritime institutions to Malaysian institutions," she said in a statement issued by IIB here after the signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur Friday.

According to her, the institute will not only add prestige to the education arena within Iskandar Malaysia and Malaysia, but will also serve as a much needed feeder institution to local logistics ports in the corridor or other parts of Asia, in view of the fast growing regional nautical industry.

Arlida also said, the new partnership is further proof of consistent foreign investor interest in Iskandar Malaysia and confidence in the region.

The proposed Dutch Maritime Institute will be located in EduCity @ Iskandar, IIB's multi-university campus area set over 123.4 hectares of land, which aims to be a knowledge centre, not just for Asia, but for the world.

EduCity will host common facilities and a combination of faculties from selected leading universities in the world. It will feature eight faculties, each renowned for their specialisation in medicine, logistics, hospitality, engineering, creative multimedia, creative arts and business studies.

One of the eight faculties in the pipeline is the branch campus for Newcastle University's (UK) medical faculty, known as the Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed Malaysia), expected to be completed in 2011.

IIB is an investment holding company which promotes and coordinates the development to support Iskandar Malaysia which was launched in 2006.

To date, the economic corridor encompassing 2,217 sq kilometer in southern Johor and twice the size of Singapore has managed to rake RM40 billion of foreign and domestic investments.

Meanwhile, the Head of Economy and Trade Section at the Netherlands embassy in Kuala Lumpur Jacoba Bolderheij who was present during the signing ceremony said, the embassy is delighted to see Dutch education institutes active in Malaysia.

"We certainly hope that the current collaboration would turn into action soon because we fully believe that having the top two maritime institutes from the Netherlands signify the importance of the venture," she said.

She is confident that Iskandar Malaysia will develop into a vital economic hub in South East Asia.

"Iskandar Malaysia is located strategically in the middle of the bustling trade route connecting the emerging China-India markets - the potential for rapid expansion of logistics services and rising demand for skilled and qualified seafarers in the region," said Jacoba.

According to her, Netherlands is one of Malaysia's active trading partners in Europe with over RM25 billion of its exports to Europe done via the Netherlands.

Meanwhile MIWB Director of Projects, Capt Stephen Cross, said the venture could eventually elevate the Malaysian maritime education to a higher standards as well as facilitate transfer of knowledge from the world's two leading maritime institutions.

Founded in 1875, MIWB is the oldest Dutch maritime institute and amongst the most advanced ship's officers training institutes in the world while MIR is one of the leading maritime educational institutions in Western Europe and is best known for its specialty in logistics.

It is part of Zeeland University and the Zeeland Vocational College in Vlissingen. - Bernama

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