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Far-sighted: The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah (left), with I-Bhd chairman Tan Sri Lim Kim Hong at the official opening of i-City Finance Avenue’s DoubleTree by Hilton i-City

WHEN the Sultan of Selangor officially opened the DoubleTree by Hilton in Shah Alam last week, not many people would have realised the significance of his visit to i-City.

It was the far-sighted decision by Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah more than a decade ago that saw the transformation of Shah Alam, a sleepy district, into what it is today.

Shah Alam was set up as an administrative centre but His Royal Highness had better plans and vision.

With a stroke of the pen, Tuanku wrote a letter in 2008 to the then Mentri Besar, the late Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, to permit i-City to be accorded an international zone.

In short, the Selangor state government should allow international class hotels, shopping malls, cinemas and restaurants to be set up in a bold move to change the landscape of Shah Alam.

It was a time when developers faced many obstacles from state politicians and local government officials who were unsure how the future of Shah Alam should evolve.

I-City, in fact, was the first developer to receive Royal support to have an integrated development.

Next, it was the S P Setia mall, which opened its doors in 2012.

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The mall also received international zone classification, which allowed more flexibility for the owner.

I-Bhd chairman Tan Sri Lim Kim Hong, until today, has treasured a separate letter which was written by HRH to the tycoon in 2008.

There were plenty of good reasons why the Selangor Administration wanted to keep any form of entertainment away from the district.

The Institut Teknologi Mara campus, now upgraded to Universiti Teknologi Mara, is located in Shah Alam. ITM began to develop its campus in Shah Alam from 1967.

With its huge student population, the late Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, did not want the students to be distracted. In fact, even as late as 2015, there was not a single cinema in the district as it was not allowed.

The following year, Selangor Raja Muda Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin Shah launched Shah Alam’s first one-stop entertainment mall, which also housed its first cinema.

Sultan Idris, in his readiness to make the changes, understood that Shah Alam was undergoing rapid changes as development pushed down south and was maturing quickly.

If in the 80s and 90s, it was a mono-ethnic community, by 2000, it had turned into a diverse population with multi-racial needs and interests. More upscale housing developments were also taking shape.

Today, Shah Alam – once noted for its rubber and oil estates – now has a population of over 700,000 and is the sixth largest in the country.

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