Johor Bahru, a city on the move

The city of Johor Bahru is the fastest-growing city in Malaysia after the capital Kuala Lumpur.

It is located at the southern tip of Peninsula Malaysia, a short distance from the economic powerhouse of Singapore.

Reaping the benefits of the outstanding economic success of both Singapore and Malaysia, Johor Bahru and the state of Johor have all the ingredients to become major financial, commercial and tourist centres in Southeast Asia.

The Malaysian Government's ambitious plans for the city and environs has made it one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.

The city skyline has taken on the look of other major Asian cities, with concrete and glass columns rising at an incredible rate.

Five shopping complexes, six office towers and three hotel towers are under construction in the city centre.

Outside the city, growth is even greater. Johor authorities said at least 20 shopping complexes were under construction, along with 18 office towers and 10 hotels.

All these are expected to be completed in about two years.

Perhaps the jewel in the city's development crown is Johor Bahru Waterfront City. The massive M$6 billion (HK$18.53 billion) residential complex will be constructed on piers out into the Johor Straits. When completed in 2005, it will have a population of about 25,000.

The population of the city is nearing one million (it is Malaysia's second-largest city). By 2005, 1.5 million people are expected to live there and, by 2025, Johor Bahru will have grown to a metropolis of nearly four million people.

Johor also enjoys membership of the Singapore-Johor-Riau Growth Triangle. It is a tri-lateral initiative by the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore to develop the area into one of the most prosperous economic zones in Southeast Asia, mainly through tourism and manufacturing.

The Riaus are a group of Indonesia islands - including Bintan and Batam - close to Singapore.

Tourism goes a long way into powering the Johor economy. Every day, thousands of Singaporeans and international visitors cross the causeway into Johor Bahru from Singapore.

On weekends, Singaporeans flock there to enjoy the shopping, sightseeing, resorts and golf.

It is the entry point for the highest number of visitors to Malaysia. Last year, 4.6 million or 70 per cent of tourists arrived through Johor Bahru.

Many of these visitors go for the golf. Given the stringent club rules and costs of playing golf in Singapore, Johor has acted like a magnet for fairway enthusiasts. Twenty world-class courses exist and there are plans for more.