The first project to be undertaken by Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan’s Alef Group – a community shopping centre branded as Zero6 – is set to open in April next year, according to the company’s managing director Issa Ataya.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the signing of the contract at the site with Sharjah-based Omis Contracting, Mr Ataya said the Dh210 million project would be the first of a series of Zero6 malls planned for the emirate, as Alef Group aimed to develop “integrated lifestyle community malls for a new generation” of Sharjah residents.
The first mall to be developed is to be in Juraina 2, which is to the east of the city close to the Sharjah University City Campus.
Mr Ataya said that studies of the project show that it has a catchment area of 35,800 residents – 95 per cent of whom are Emiratis with high disposable incomes.
He said the centre would be targeted both at these residents and the 24,000 students based at University City as its primary audience, but that it also expected to attract visitors from the other Northern Emirates.
The centre is a two-storey building with a built-up area of 37,000 square metres and a gross leasable area of 16,000 sq metres. Some 3,000 sq metres of this has been allocated to a new, eight-screen Imax cinema – the biggest in the UAE – which is being operated under a new joint venture alongside Cinemacity that has secured Imax rights for Sharjah for the next 10 years.
There is also to be a 1,600 sq metres Spinneys anchor supermarket and 3,000 sq metres of promenade bars and restaurants at the front of the building. Mr Ataya said that deals were being done with food & beverage operators who would be new to Sharjah, but were familiar brands in the country as they already had operations in other malls in Dubai.
A gym, a nursery and a medical facility are also planned, plus parking for 490 cars.
The Zero6 name represents the phone code for Sharjah and Mr Ataya said the contemporary design of the mall by the German architectural practice Schwitzke & Partner was “a part of our strategy”.
Sheikh Khalifa said the Zero 6 project “is an advanced model of a new generation of malls, where the elements of modern innovative designs are in harmony with the emirate of Sharjah’s rich architectural history”.
Mr Ataya said the intention was for future Zero6 sites to be built “in the same spirit” as its first property.
“It depends on the plot size.”
He also said that the Zero6 malls have been built to “complement” Majid Al Futtaim’s existing malls in Sharjah, adding that they are aimed at a slightly different customer segment.
“We have a promenade with a line of seven shops.
“You don’t find these in MAF properties. I can’t say [we’re aiming] higher, I can say you can’t find it everywhere.
“We are trying to be selective, and we are trying to get brands that are similar to us.” Alef Group has employed WSP as technical consultant on the project, while geotechnical works were carried out by Al Hai and Al Mukkadam.
The master developer of Saadiyat Island, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), announced that it would soon open a community centre within the Saadiyat Beach Villas district.
It said the 2,052 sq metres centre contains a Waitrose supermarket that has already opened its doors, and would also soon house a Starbucks, Circle Cafe, a pharmacy and a nursery.
Follow The National's Business section on Twitter