Chasing the vision: Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, ARADA
According to the recent Sharjah Property Market Snapshot for Spring 2018 by Cluttons, villas in Sharjah have continued to buck the wider trend of retreating rents in the emirates residential rental market, recording an increase of 1.7%, while apartment rents in Sharjah registered a steep decline of 13.6% in rents, in the last quarter of 2017. In addition to it, a trend of new developers entering the Sharjah market has added an exciting dimension to the sector.
ARADA, being a new developer itself, has built up a formidable presence for themselves in the market with the launch of Aljada, a master-planned destination, covering over 2.2sqkm that is set to become Sharjahs largest ever mixed-use development project. Delivered in phases starting from 2019, construction on Aljada began in the first quarter of 2018 and the entire project is expected to be completed by 2025. Aljada is an all-encompassing district that comprises considerable retail, leisure and entertainment options, in addition to a wide range of residential and commercial offerings, such as a dedicated business park.
Commenting on the development of the company, Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, CEO, ARADA, says: Sharjah is currently undergoing a major transformation, largely thanks to the governments foresight and continued investment in the local economy. The governments decision in 2014 to allow all nationalities not just UAE, Gulf and other Arab nationals to buy property in Sharjah has seen a sea change in the real estate sector.
Prior to founding ARADA in December 2016, we conducted market research in Sharjah itself, and found that there was a real and urgent demand for fully comprehensive communities that allow residents and visitors to live, work, and play all within the same destination. This is exactly what Aljada provides to Sharjah. The emirates largest ever mixed-use community, Aljada, features extensive residential options, all within a beautifully designed space, with easy access to large green areas for every resident, as well as the largest leisure and entertainment destination in the Northern Emirates, the Central Hub, which is being designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.
In addition, Aljada also features a Business Park with 500,000sqm of leasable space, as well as four hotels, schools, and sizeable retail options throughout the community. This is what makes Aljada truly unique, and why it is the fastest-selling project in Sharjah.
Jointly founded by KBW Investments (KBW) and Basma Group (Basma), ARADA is a partnership enterprise dedicated to the creation of prime residential properties. It is led by the top figures from both organisations whereby HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi s serve as ARADAs chairman, while HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal acts as the companys vice chairman.
Alkhoshaibi opines: Theres no doubt that the presence of two highly respected individuals as leaders of ARADA has been hugely beneficial to the fortunes of the company. Both HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi and HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal have many years of experience in a number of corporates and have an excellent understanding of the business environment, both here in the Gulf and overseas.
And, in the short time since ARADA was launched, we have built up a formidable team of more than 200 executives. Each of them are experts in their field, and together they bring many decades of experience, many spent with the UAEs top developers and other property giants from around the world. We have also worked to learn from those who have gone before us – our team has been careful to note the successes and failures of other developers from around the region, and further afield, in an attempt to ensure that we bring the very highest quality workmanship and delivery to our projects.
Were delighted to say that weve received an overwhelming response from buyers for our first project, Nasma Residences.
Early 2017, the developer had launched its maiden project, Nasma Residences, an 800-unit master-planned community with a host of facilities. The project offers a choice of two- and three-bedroom townhouses, four-bedroom semi-detached homes, and five-bedroom signature villas. The development expands over 46ha of land area and anchored by four community offerings, including a 13-acre landscaped park with cycling and jogging tracks and large play areas; a multi-purpose community centre with club house offering sports and recreation facilities; childrens nursery and full-service medical clinic; an international school; and a retail mall offering a large-scale anchor shopping experience for day-to-day and specialty needs and a range of casual dining experiences.
Alkhoshaibi claims: Were delighted to say that weve received an overwhelming response from buyers for our first project, Nasma Residences. They have been attracted to our vision of providing comprehensive communities at a price point that works for everyone. As of now, we have sold 500 units in Nasma Residences, which features more than 800 villas and townhouses, from the three phases we have launched so far. We expect to launch the last two phases in the coming months and expect to sell all the units in the project by the end of the year.
At Aljada, the developer launched the first phase in September 2017, and the second phase, East Village, at Cityscape Abu Dhabi in April 2018. And till date, ARADA has sold 1,000 units in Aljada. The chief says: Majority of sales so far have come from Emiratis, followed by Gulf nationals and citizens of other Arab countries, while recent months have seen an increase in purchases from citizens of South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan.
To keep on expanding its portfolio, the developer hopes to announce the companys first project in Dubai by the end of 2018. Alkhoshaibi points out that the new one will also focus on the companys key objectives of providing beautifully designed and sustainable communities, with exceptional amenities, all at an accessible price point, just like the previous ones.
Complementing the local expansion, ARADA, in the longer term, is duly interested in expanding into international markets. He says: We see Saudi Arabia as a country of significant opportunity, particularly given the changes that are happening in the Kingdom at the moment. Although we have no specific timeline for launching a project in Saudi Arabia, I would hope that we would be able to announce our entry into this exciting market within the next two or three years. Further afield, we are also considering overseas markets such as the UK, Australia, and Italy, where we have an existing land bank, although any expansion into these areas would come at a later date. In general, we carefully assess any opportunities that are made available to us based on their individual merits.
The Sharjah real estate market as a whole has been consistently more stable than many of its peers in the region, thanks to strong regulations that have protected both developers and investors, the developer claims. This was one of the many reasons why we launched ARADA in 2016. We see Sharjah as a something of a hidden gem for real estate investors, given the strong underpinning of education and culture and the growing sense of entrepreneurship here, and believe that it is on the cusp of significant change.
Supporting the growth, over the course of 2018, ARADA expects to launch and sell out Phases 4 and 5 of Nasma Residences, and also expect to launch the third phase of Aljada, as well as the project in Dubai. Alkhoshaibi concludes: In terms of strategies for 2018, we have focused heavily on products that will appeal to mid-market investors and end-users as we see huge demand in this segment. Thus far, we have seen a split of roughly 70:30 in terms of investors over end-users in our projects. Over time, as our projects start handing over units to homeowners, we expect to see this ratio drop towards 50:50, as is the usual trend.