Developers in Sharjah are attempting to build the emirate’s answer to Dubai’s Arabian Ranches.
Located somewhere between the unprepossessing Industrial Area 13 in Sharjah and the Falah Military Camp, Al Zahia, Sharjah’s first ever gated community, has been masterplanned to span a total area of 1.3 million square metres. And once complete in 10 years time, the project is slated to eventually be home to over 12,000 residents.
Brochures for the vast villa-led development include the usual glossy pictures of happy families in local and Western dress enjoying a pleasant tree-lined landscape of parks and gardens.
However, Satnav has so far not been updated to include the megaproject 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 oversized families in mind. MAF, which is managing the construction of the project has already built a small children’s play park among the existing villas with plans for many more.
A quick nose around one of the scheme’s 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 to Dubai house prices, they are affordable with a 4,170 square foot, five bedroom villa selling for between Dh3 million to Dh3.5m.
Off plan town houses in the project start from Dh140,000 and smaller villas from Dh190,000. And the company is about to start marketing the scheme’s first block of apartments starting at less than Dh300,000.
Work is currently underway on a second phase of 197 homes to be completed by the second quarter of 2016. When complete the company plans to start on a third phase of 101 villas and 132 townhouses.
“This is the first time Sharjah will have anything like this,” Lee Tabler, executive director for communities at Majid Al Futtaim told a recent press gathering.
But if visiting, remember to bring a map.
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