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Cambodia terminates NagaCorp’s $350m non-gaming IR project

"The planned activities could indeed have an impact on the outstanding universal value for which Angkor was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List” 

According to a report in the Phnom Penh PostCambodia has rejected NagaCorp Ltd’s plans for a $350 million non-gaming integrated resort (IR) in Siem Reap province dubbed “Angkor Lake of Wonder” (ALOW). 

NagaCorp Ltd, the Hong Kong-listed Group, who are also the owners of Phnom Penh’s only licensed casino, NagaWorldhad announced its IR plans on November 15, scheduled to be completed by 2025. 

The United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO issued a statement last month outlining its concerns, saying, “The proximity of the project to the protected buffer zones of the [Angkor Wat] site as well as the scale, scope, and concept of the planned activities could indeed have an impact on the outstanding universal value for which Angkor was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.” 

According to an announcement from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on March 23, the International Coordinating Committee for Angkor (ICC-Angkor) ultimately told the Cambodian government earlier this month that “cannot be implemented in this context”. 

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts reportedly announced yesterday that it “shares the views of ICC-Angkor.” 

Ministry of finance and fine artsAccording to NagaCorpin November last year, the Cambodian government had granted to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company a fifty-year lease, with an option to renew, on 185 acres of land near the restricted zone of the famous Angkor Wat, the biggest religious monument in the world, in Siem Reap. 

The IR would be strategically built near Cambodia’s most recognized tourist attraction with plans for a road linking AWOL with Angkor Wat, in what it said was “to promote the concept of NagaWorld and Angkor Wat as the twin tourism icons of Cambodia”. 

Nagacorp had previously announced that the blueprint of the first phase of development were being prepared by two US-based architectural firms -Steelman Partners LLC and Gensler and Associates International Ltd – that would see the resort slowly take shape with hotels, a water theme park, an indoor hi-tech theme park, a non-motorised boating canal system, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) facilities, cultural attractions, a food street and more.  

Naga also added that “the development will focus on incorporating elements of, inter alia, technology, edutainment, ecology and culture.” 

Currently, Nagacorp is developing its $4 billion Naga 3 project on the site of the former “White Building” in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune. 

On the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, NagaCorp’s (3918:HK) share price dipped HK$0.22 or 2.28 per cent to close at HK$9.44 on March 23 for a market capitalisation of HK$40.98 billion, with 2.79 million shares traded. 

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