Site visit: Falcon Island, Ras Al Khaimah

Will Falcon Island, a luxury beachfront community in Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Hamra Village, boost the Northern Emirate’s real estate market?

Construction on Falcon Island began in March this year.
Construction on Falcon Island began in March this year.

The UAE has, over the years, offered numerous options for luxury beachfront living. Buying into such developments has also become easier with time, due to the volume of luxury living projects being launched, coupled with attractive payment plans being offered by developers. Falcon Island at Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Hamra Village is no different, promising luxury beachfront homes which deliver eye-catching views combined with city-style convenience.

Situated at the heart of the 715ha Al Hamra Village, Falcon Island will be one of the most sustainable pieces of real estate in the Middle East, with buildings that feature smart city technologies.

The natural island spanning 20ha, comprises 150 eco-villas and waterfront mansions, divided by a Venetian-style canal, alongside private beaches and parks.

Barry Ebrahimy, head of sales and marketing at Al Hamra, tells Construction Week: “It is our flagship development and the first Platinum LEED certified community in the Middle East.”

Villas which start at five bedrooms occupy an area of 390 sqm, and 11 palatial eight-bedroom mansions in the community span 1,625 sqm. The project includes up to 2,322 sqm of private beach area too.

Prices start at $1.5m (AED5.7m) for a five-bedroom villa, whilst the mansions cost between $6.8m (AED25m) and $8.1m (AED30m).

Ebrahimy remarks: “We are offering our product at half the price of any comparable development in the Northern Emirates.”

Falcon Island properties boast sustainable European architecture. Inside, residents will enjoy the comfort of their homes, with furniture ranges that include Bentley Home, Fendi Casa, and Kenzo Maison.

All villas are customisable, with Al Hamra offering a choice of colours and facades. Residents can also add rooms to their villas, or redo their unit’s landscaping as they wish.

Ebrahimy says 80% of the 150 Mediterranean-style villas, including three mansions, are sold out.

“We are [being] really strict [whilst] selling this exclusive product. We want to make sure that the right people are placed in the right neighbourhood,” Ebrahimy states.

Handover of the entire development is expected by the end of 2017, he adds.

Construction progress

The contract for the $272m (AED1bn) development is divided into two tender packages: the first package covers the marine and infrastructure works for the island, and the second comprises construction of villas, a district cooling plant, basic amenities, landscaping, and waterworks.

Ebrahimy elaborates: “We need to dredge the canal so that water circulation takes place and all the villas get waterfront views.

“Infrastructure works include all the necessary mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) operations, roadblocks, and street lightings for the project.”

China Harbour Engineering Company has been awarded the $40.8m (AED150m) contract for package one. The contractor will dredge the central canal, which will split the island in half, reclaim landscape beaches, and construct power, sewerage and road networks on the island.

Shankland Cox, a UK-based company, is the master planner for the island, whilst the architect is A++, an Italian company which specialises in sustainable developments.

Halcrow is supervising the infrastructure design, and Luxury Living, an Italian firm, is designing the development’s interiors.

The project will also include the first GCC radiant cooling technology, providing an energy-efficient system that will offer residents healthy temperature control within their homes. The hybrid cooling systems will utilise solar and conventional energy to provide cooling from a district cooling facility (200KW) to homes on the island – also a first for the GCC.

The bridge over the project’s canal and the development’s community centre will feature solar panels. These units are scheduled for completion in October 2016.

Ebrahimy says: “Work began in March 2015, with the island getting reshaped and beach works being conducted. The central canal will be complete in February 2016.”

The tender for package two will be awarded later this year to “some of the reputed contractors in the UAE”, he reveals.

Up to 175 workers are currently engaged on site in construction activity under China Harbour. Eventually, the stakeholders plan to increase the number of workers to boost construction activity.

Falcon Island will feature entertainment and retail offerings, which are due to be developed by Al Hamra. The developer is in negotiation with international retail brands for the project.

Ebrahimy explains: “A retail promenade [will go] all the way from the sea up to our signature Waldorf Astoria, with access to the beach and food and beverage outlets.”

Regional and international buyers have already bought property in the development.

“But we are also focusing on investors for the residences,” Ebrahimy adds.

With natural beauty, white sandy beaches, and a range of entertainment facilities, Ras Al Khaimah is gradually becoming an exciting destination for those looking to purchase their dream beach holiday home in the UAE. An increasing number of nationals and residents in the pursuit of affordable living options have started migrating to Sharjah and the Northern Emirates. This is exacerbated by buying and renting values in Dubai, which spiked in the mid-2000s and have continued their upward trajectory. Dubai’s property boom also boosted real estate transactions in Ras Al Khaimah.

With Dubai Expo 2020 less than a decade away – Ras Al Khaimah, like the rest of the UAE – could reap the benefits of numerous visitors convening in the country. Projects such as Falcon Island are, therefore, integral to the Emirate’s growth.

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