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Everything you need to know about Sharjah’s $6.5bn Aljada project

Spread across 2.2km2 of land in the heart of Sharjah, UAE-based Arada’s $6.5bn Aljada megaproject looks set to become the emirate’s largest ever real estate development.

Setting records: Valued at $6.5bn, the 2.2km2 Aljada project looks set to become Sharjah’s largest ever development.
Setting records: Valued at $6.5bn, the 2.2km2 Aljada project looks set to become Sharjah’s largest ever development.

Earlier this week, Arada launched what looks set to become the largest real estate development in Sharjah’s history.

Unveiled on 6 September in the presence of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Aljada – the Arabic term for ‘avenue’ – is a master-planned megaproject that will feature a diverse array of residential, commercial, and retail offerings, not to mention its own business park and a dedicated entertainment and leisure precinct. Make no mistake, Aljada is not only large within the context of Sharjah’s real estate landscape; it would represent an immense development in any market. Yet, to all intents and purposes, Arada is a start-up. The UAE-based developer is less than a year old, and Aljada is only its second project. 

Established in 2017, Arada is a partnership enterprise that was formed jointly by KBW Investments and Basma Group. The former was founded by HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, while the latter is chaired by HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, a member of Sharjah’s ruling family.

In March 2017, less than two months after its formation, the developer launched its inaugural project, Nasma Residences, which is also located in Sharjah. With a gross development value (GDV) of approximately $408m (AED1.5bn), this 800-unit residential community could hardly be described as a typical debut development but, when it comes to sheer magnitude, Arada’s follow-up project is in a league of its own.

Occupying a total area of 2.2km2 (220ha), Aljada will boast a GDV of $6.5bn (AED24bn) and a total population of approximately 70,000 people. Upon completion, the district will include a combination of stand-alone and semi-detached villas, townhouses, lofts, and apartments, which will be complemented by schools, healthcare clinics, and mosques.

Arada’s chairman, Sheikh Sultan, said: “We want to offer residents and investors upscale living experiences that are currently unavailable in the market, and ensure a better life for everyone who visits, lives, or works in Aljada. We are confident that this development will raise interest in Sharjah even further, while strengthening its position as a secure and sought-after investment destination.”

Encouragingly, Aljada appears to have all of the necessary fundamentals to achieve these goals. Boasting direct access to Al Dhaid Road and easy access to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, the development is located just five minutes’ drive from Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) and Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF Zone). But it is not only Aljada’s location that is expected to attract investment; the development’s master plan, which was designed by Woods Bagot in close collaboration with Sharjah Urban Planning Council, has been designed with walkability and green spaces in mind. Moreover, the district’s entertainment and leisure precinct, the Central Hub, will feature an urban piazza replete with cafés and restaurants, and a musical fountain display as its centrepiece.

Other attractions will include skate parks, an extreme sports centre, and the largest children’s adventure and discovery complex in the Northern Emirates.

Prince Khaled, vice chairman of Arada, said: “Aljada is a project that stays true to its roots; it embodies the heritage of the city that lies around it, while looking forward to Sharjah’s future. With design elements that draw inspiration from Sharjah’s oldest neighbourhoods, to environmentally friendly building standards, Aljada really does represent the best of both worlds.”

Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, chairman of Sharjah Urban Planning Council, added: “Aljada will be distinguished by its superior architectural design and unparalleled quality of public realm, incorporating best international design practices. Master-planned with a focus on enhanced urban spaces, the design-led Aljada lifestyle experience integrates living, working, and entertainment, all curated for a vibrant, tightly knit community.”

Arada’s chief executive officer, Ahmed AlKhoshaibi, told Construction Week that the main construction tender for the megaproject’s first portion would be floated in November 2017. The developer plans to award the main contract for Aljada’s Phase 1 in January 2018, with construction works scheduled to commence during the same quarter.

“The first tranche of property that we are releasing onto the market numbers 272 units, which include three apartment blocks, as well as 28 townhouses,” AlKhoshaibi revealed. “In total, we expect that the master plan will include about 800 buildings, including the residential, commercial, hospitality, retail, and leisure and entertainment segments.

“We estimate that the future population of Aljada will be 70,000 people, of whom 40,000 will be residents, and the rest either workers or tourists,” he added.

Aljada will be developed in 10 phases, the first of which is due to be delivered in 2019. The entire development is scheduled to complete by 2025. Few would deny that this is an ambitious undertaking for such a young developer, but even fewer would question the credentials of those behind the company. This is not only a statement of intent from Arada; it is also a colossal opportunity for Sharjah as a whole. Ultimately, the appropriately named Aljada will provide the emirate with an unprecedented avenue for growth.

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