Residents of Al Majaz in Sharjah may see their rents rise by up to 15 per cent as the waterfront redevelopment gives the neighbourhood an uplift, a senior government official told Gulf News.
"I expect rents to rise by 15 per cent with the view at Al Majaz and the high-end cafes and restaurants at your doorstep," said Marwan Bin Jasem Al Sarkal, chief executive of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the developer of Al Majaz Waterfront.
The 4,700-square-metre development will be ready for use by the public in November, he added. "After one year, there will be a huge social impact on new rentals. People will find huge, if not significant, difference before and after November. People can expect better services, offerings, and a huge impact on leasing and rental."
With eight restaurants, a musical fountain, parks and art spaces, the redevelopment is expected to put pressure on rents in the immediate surroundings because of the superior amenities but will push down rents in places lacking comparable facilities, said Matthew Green, Head of Research for the UAE at CB Richard Ellis.
"Given the location, we definitely expect it to achieve premium rent, over and above existing rent because it is a masterplan community," he added.
The project will have a positive effect on the market because it will put some pressure on the rents amid considerable supply and will raise the emirate's profile, he noted.
Shurooq is partnering with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) to uplift the lagoon area to another level, said Al Sarkal. "We are setting standards for the retail outlets [below the buildings], their offerings, signage and activities," he said. "Instead of tailors or companies, in three to four years there will be a whole change in the offering of the lagoon. It will impact Jamal Abdul Nasser street. Its mid to low standard outlets will see major revamping when Al Majaz opens."
The Al Majaz Waterfront, or Khalid Lagoon, is being recreated into an improved tourist destination to attract Sharjah residents who drive out of the emirate for leisure and entertainment, said Al Sarkal.
"The main idea was to create a destination that provides good quality service with a nice place to visit and uplift it to such a level that say if 60 per cent of people dine out of Sharjah, we are going to try to get half of them back in Sharjah," he said. "Internal tourism will be greatly changed, people of Sharjah don't spend time in Sharjah. The main target is how to make them spend their money and enjoy their time in Sharjah, to drive less and enjoy... And it's adding one more day [on the itinerary] for the international visitor."
With a total of 100,000 people surrounding Al Majaz area, Al Sarkal expects 30 per cent of them to walk into the renewed spot.
The area is designed to attract middle to high income people, a strata that has few leisure options in Sharjah, according to a study by Shurooq.
The Dh100 million government-funded project should see a return on investments within five to seven years given the social, economic and trickle-down impact to other neighbourhoods in Sharjah, he added.
Still, there is no private or foreign investment trickling in to the emirate from the project. "Our aim is to attract investment, but it's one of our first projects. It shows commitment to Sharjah and investing in the emirate, it's part of our strategy," he said.
Hussain Al Mahmoudi, Director-General of SCCI, said the redevelopment will boost the emirate's trade and the economy. "It's a great addition to enhance Sharjah's reputation and entertainment industry. Waterfront is a unique concept in the emirate and across the UAE... it will attract lots of new restaurants and increase traffic to that area. From an eco-urban planning point of view, it will develop the whole area and Al Wahda street."
With the scorching heat blasting in during most of the year, there's a limitation to the amount of time spent outdoors but Al Sarkal noted that shaded areas, large expanses of air-conditioned restaurants and night-time visits can overcome the weather.
"Al Majaz is a huge project, it's going to be the landmark of Sharjah as a tourist destination," he said.
Khalid Lagoon, a traditionally upscale neighbourhood and long-time favourite with families strolling along the stretch of the Corniche in winter, is reopening to the public with a new look. Some of its features in the 231,000 square foot area include:
1. Two parks with rides for disabled children
2. Musical fountain with 20 musical shows and five video projections on water screen
3. Mini golf area with 18 hole
4. Splash park
5. Two art spaces for children and adults with a sculpture garden
6. Running track
8. Eight casual dining restaurants and cafes opening for the first time in Sharjah
9. Washrooms and breastfeeding areas
10. Designated area for festivals and events