According to Sharjah’s Department of Statistics and Community Development, in 2013 the population of Sharjah City alone was 93,438.
It’s safe to say that in the three years since, that number has grown by a lot. Which prompts the question:
Where are all these people going to stay?
Having lived in Sharjah for over a decade, I’ve watched the city’s residential towers – and residents – grow tremendously. It still hasn’t been enough. Even while rents see a decline, the demand is relatively steady with an expected influx closer to Expo 2020.
Cue Al Zahia, Sharjah’s first gated community.
Al Zahia is located along University City Road, on a wide stretch of land that at the moment is really just a heap of sand with a few houses on top. The project is a collaboration between Majid Al Futtaim and Sharjah Holdings.
Construction first began last year, and according to the Sales Center, there is currently no estimated completion date. However, they recently announced on Twitter that they’ve begun construction on the Garden Apartments.
Once finished, Al Zahia will span about 1.5 million square meters of townhouses, villas, apartments, commercial outlets and parks for the kiddies. There’s even going to be a ‘City Center Al Zahia,’ though people are probably going to favor the recently-announced Zero6 Mall.
The different housing options – which will accommodate over 12,000 Arabs – come in both modern and traditional design. The villas include five bedrooms plus an optional family living area, and are ideal for larger families. They also come with a garden and swimming pool. But you don’t have to take my word for it; take the virtual tour.
If five bedrooms are a bit much, the townhouses come with three bedrooms (also with an optional family living area). Once again, tour away.
For smaller families or younger working residents, Al Zahia will have low-rise apartment buildings with studios, one, and two bedroom flats.
The commercial villas are perfect for small business looking to make a big impact. However, food and drink outlets, industrial warehouses or launderettes and other miscellaneous businesses will not be allowed, so it’s best to check with the Sales Center before making any concrete business plans.
All sounds awesome, right? Of course – while they haven’t been determined yet – the prices will probably be high.
Still, the gated community will attract working millennials and new families alike to a prime location. It’s close to the Sharjah International Airport and the Free Zone, and just five minutes’ drive away lies the multicultural University City, home to thousands of students who will soon be graduating and looking for a place of their own.
The development and its strategic location reminds me of Dubai’s Academic City and the adjacent Silicon Oasis. Though both are free zones, they also quickly became vibrant communities in their own right.
And then there are other areas like the Greens and Al Badia. Dubai now has a number of cosmopolitan communities around the city, and I’m curious to see if Sharjah plans to head in the same direction.
Are there more plans for the area? What will it look like in a few years, and who will be living there? I, for one, am excited to find out.