Naga2, aptly nicknamed “A piece of gold in Asean”, is a one-stop entertainment complex with 900 rooms, 65 spa suites, a multitude of restaurants as well as duty-free shopping next to the existing NagaWorld Entertainment Complex, and was officially opened on Friday with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The ceremony was followed by a gala dinner attended by the ambassadors to Cambodia of all the Asean nations.
Dignitaries and guests were entertained by talented artists from around the world, which was aimed to highlight the complex’s expansion and to raise Phnom Penh’s status from a transit hub for travellers to a destination in its own right.
The opening of the latest expansion to the NagaWorld entertainment complex, which includes the NagaCity Walk – about 38,000 square metres of subterranean retail space operated by the China Duty Free Group – started in the late afternoon.
Guests and members of the press were treated to a sneak peek of the entertainers from across the Asean region who were chosen to grace the stage at the star-studded gala dinner.
Among them was Thai star Khemanit Jamikorn, better known as Pancake, who came straight off a plane and onto the stage.
“I’m sure everyone wants to do the same as I do,” she told the crowd. “I can’t wait to start shopping.”
She then joined her co-performers off stage, including singer Dona Amelia from Indonesia and Miss World Megan Young from the Philippines, at the Golden Horizon Lounge where the ribbon cutting ceremony was held.
Among those taking part in the symbolic ceremony were NagaWorld Chairman Timothy McNally, the ambassadors from nine Asean countries and Cambodia’s Minister for Tourism Thong Kon.
After a lion dance was performed to bring good fortune, guests were ushered into the ballroom for the inauguration of the $1.5 billion complex. The evening began with opening remarks from the founder and CEO of NagaCorp Ltd, Chen Lip Keong.
“Tonight’s soft opening also goes to show how far Cambodia has come from the days of the genocidal regime,” said Mr Chen. “It also cements NagaCorp’s place as one of the world’s most profitable entertainment complexes – Colliers International has valued NagaCorp’s complex at above $5.1 billion in 2016 and yet, the company has zero debt.”
Mr Chen stressed that NagaCorp’s vision was not to build monuments but to build jobs and contribute to the socioeconomic development of Cambodia and added that the company had contributed significantly to tourism growth, raised the international investment profile and was the biggest corporate taxpayer in the country.
“By 2020, China will see at least 200 million outbound travellers,” he said. “This wave is further accentuated by China’s One Belt One Road policy – and NagaWorld is ready to earmark and train more resources to cater for this influx and NagaWorld together with the Ministry of Tourism hope to bring in at least two million Chinese visitors by 2020.
“With strong political foundations, more and more Cambodians can enjoy higher standards of living and investors can prosper on a long-term basis,” he added, hinting at a possible expansion of the complex in the future, which is already ranked as the largest taxpayer in the country with a market capitalisation of $3.52 billion.
“Hopefully, all of us here can attend the opening of Naga3, very soon.”
In keeping with the theme of the inauguration, which celebrated Asean’s unity in diversity, guests were entertained with performances by artists as well as a seemingly never-ending platters of cuisine from across the region.
From sea bass with Indonesian dabu-dabu relishes to the perfectly cooked bistek from the Philippines, even the pickiest eaters were able to enjoy the night’s offerings.
“To all nine other Asean ambassadors who have helped officiate tonight’s function, I want to report to you that NagaWorld employs a lot of people from the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and consumes a lot of Asean’s services and resources,” added Mr Chen.
“Your presences here tonight further enhances the spirit of economic, cultural and social exchanges, in this 600 million strong community.”