Subject: East Timor to get first shopping mall

Agence France Presse -- English

February 6, 2009

East Timor to get first shopping mall

DILI, Feb 6 2009

The tiny Asian nation of East Timor will have its first shopping mall by the end of the year after a ground breaking ceremony was held in the sleepy capital on Friday.

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Australian Ambassador Peter Heyward were at the ceremony to mark the beginning of the 10-million-dollar Timor Plaza project.

Ramos-Horta said the mall, which is expected to employ 300 people during construction and be 23,000 square metres (248,000 square feet) when completed, would "help this country awaken and give employment and training to the Timorese".

Developer Jape Kong Su said the development would boost the economy of one of the world's poorest countries.

"(The mall will) promote the re-emergence of local industries such as handicrafts, printing and textiles as internationally, Timor-Leste's (East Timor's) rich and diverse history, spectacular landscapes, unspoiled beaches and coastal waters are being discovered," he said in a press release.

East Timor gained formal independence in 2002 after a bloody 24-year occupation by neighbour Indonesia.

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