Sharjah’s version of Dubai’s Arabian Ranches

Sharjah’s first ever gated community is set to home 12,000 residents when completed. The first phase has almost sold out.

The private swimming pool in the 5 bedroom villa. Work is currently underway on a second phase of 197 homes to be completed by the second quarter of 2016. Pawan Singh / The National
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Developers in Sharjah are attempting to build the emirate’s answer to Dubai’s Arabian Ranches.

Located somewhere between the unprepossessing Industrial Area 13 and the Falah Military Camp, Al Zahia, Sharjah’s first gated community, will span 1.3 million square metres. And once complete in 10 years’ time, the project is to be home to more than 12,000 residents.

It is still a bit difficult to locate, though.

GPS maps have so far not been updated to include the project, if my experience is anything to go by.

When I headed to view one of the project’s show homes, I was instead directed to a nearby centre for the disabled before embarking on a circuitous drive through former military land of unwelcoming semi-desert.

The scheme, being developed by Sharjah Holding, is a joint venture between the Government of Sharjah and shopping centre developer Majid Al Futtaim. It currently comprises a first phase of 51 completed villas, 49 of which have been sold.

The villas themselves are large and luxurious and have been designed with large families in mind. Majid Al Futtaim, which is managing the construction of the project has already built a small play park for children with plans for many more.

A quick look around one of the show homes revealed two huge garages, as well as a sizeable garden and a couple of large majlis areas.

More to the point, when compared with Dubai house prices, they are affordable.

A 4,170 square foot, five-bedroom villa sells for between Dh3 million to Dh3.5m. An initial block of apartments will be offered starting at less than Dh300,000.

Work is under way on a second phase of 197 homes to be completed by the second quarter of next year. The company then plans to start on a third phase of 101 villas and 132 town houses.

“This is the first time Sharjah will have anything like this,” Lee Tabler, the executive director for communities at Majid Al Futtaim, said at a recent event.

But if visiting, remember to bring a map.

Q&A

Who can buy these properties?

At the moment MAF is only selling to GCC Nationals. However, the company says it has received outline approval to sell properties on 99-year leases to non-Arab expats. It is currently seeking official approval for this from the Sharjah Real Estate Regulatory Authority.

What is Sharjah Holding?

Sharjah Holding is a joint venture between the government of Sharjah and Majid Al Futtaim. Under the agreement the government provides development land and MAF builds communities. Both parties share the profits from property sales.

What will Al Zahia eventually look like?

Sharjah Holding plans to develop a total of 1 million square metres at Al Zahia, with 2,400 villas, town houses and apartments. The development will be built in seven phases and is expected to contribute Dh5 billion to the Sharjah economy.

What about the downturn in the UAE housing market?

According to the ratings agency and broker JLL increasing supply and weakening investor sentiment are likely to prompt house price drops in Dubai of between 10 and 20 per cent this year – something likely to have a knock-on effect on the nearby Sharjah market. So far Al Zahia officials say that they are not concerned about the cooling in the Dubai market.

lbarnard@thenational.ae

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