Setting New Benchmarks
Sharjah is the industrial centre, cultural capital and education hotspot of the UAE and as the Investment and Development Authority of Sharjah, Shurooq is leading the continued transformation and economic diversification of the Emirate. Here, RLI speaks with H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority about Shurooq’s upcoming projects.
Since 2009, Shurooq has been one of the driving forces behind the transformation of the Emirate, it is also committed to enhancing Sharjah’s appeal as an investment, tourism and business destination.
The authority has been active in the comprehensive construction and infrastructure development process to enhance long-term investment prospects and has developed some unique destinations while also managing some of the region’s most recognisable landmarks.
Shurooq currently leads a diversified portfolio of infrastructure projects, with a total value of more than AED 10bn that covers a total land area of more than 12.4 million square metres across the Emirate’s western, central, and eastern regions.
he successful redevelopment of Al Qasba into a premier tourist destination back in 2005 was the start of their development journey to strengthen Sharjah’s cultural and business elements to residents, citizens and tourists in the UAE.
“At Shurooq, we have a clear plan and path towards achieving our business goals, and so we worked on developing and launching several other leisure tourism projects across Sharjah. Our foray into cultural tourism came about with the Heart of Sharjah destination – the largest historical preservation and restoration project in the region,” explains H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).
“Sharjah is an Emirate with rich environmental cultural resources, and by integrating principles of sustainability as a strategic element in Sharjah’s economic development plans, Shurooq has spearheaded a number of major real estate and retail projects, providing grounds for new economic expansion for a number of Sharjah-based and UAE-based companies, as well as global companies who look to enter our region’s markets through smart, responsible and long-term investments.”
Discussing the unprecedented circumstances created by the pandemic, Al Sarkal explains that whilst it of course brought challenges for businesses, it has also served as a learning curve that has opened opportunities and emphasises the need to be agile, resourceful and tenacious in order to adapt and respond quickly to changing environments.
Last year saw Shurooq launch the House of Wisdom – Sharjah’s new cultural edifice and an iconic architectural marvel, was one of their most anticipated openings. 2020 also saw the opening of Phase 1 of AED 4.5bn Maryam Island – the first-of-its-kind waterfront development in the Emirate by Sharjah Eagle Hills Development, a joint-venture initiative between Shurooq and Eagle Hills. The newly opened Maryam Beach Residence comprises of 688 residential units, a swimming pool, children’s play zone and kids’ swimming pool, beach access, 40 retail units and F&B units.
This year will see the opening of Moon Retreat, their second boutique hospitality offering in Shurooq’s Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism destination., along with three large-scale tourism and hospitality projects in Khorfakkan, Kalba and Al Dhaid, which will bring the Emirate’s central and eastern region into the folds of Sharjah’s ambitious plans to position itself as a leading hub of nature-inspired experiences.
On the tourism and real estate side, Shurooq has many projects in varying stages of development, chief amongst which is the Sharjah Sustainable City, an AED 2bn mixed-use urban project that is the first fully integrated Net Zero energy community in the Emirate. In partnership with Diamond Developers, the scheme will feature world-class environmentally friendly residential units, green houses with modern technology and vertical farms, driverless cars, a multi-service commercial centre and a school. The first phase is set to open in September.
“Aside from this, we also have the AED 160M Kalba Waterfront project – the largest retail and first inclusive waterfront destination which is also part of the Sharjah Eagle Hills Development portfolio. Boasting a magnificent view of a serene lagoon lined by mangroves, this scheme will open in Q2. A third project, also under the Sharjah Eagle Hills Development, is the AED 120M Palace Al Khan, a spectacular seafront hospitality retreat while family-focused Avenues Mall Sharjah, featuring 71 leasing units of which 30 per cent are F&B outlets, will be inaugurated in the fourth quarter of 2022. The second phase of Maryam Island will be delivered next year as well,” explains Al Sarkal.
Flanked by a picturesque mountain range and stretches of sandy shores, Khorfakkan lies on the east coast of the UAE and has been attracting visitors steadily over the years. A pivotal part of the Shurooq portfolio, to further enhance its appeal as a tourism and investment destination with more diverse attractions and activities they have launched the Khorfakkan Beach destination, a first-of-its-kind large scale redevelopment and redesign project in the eastern region of the Emirate. A 1km stretch on the south side of the scheme has been redesigned to feature world-class recreational activities, water sports activities, retail outlets and restaurants whilst new amenities have been added to the existing family beach park, including eco-friendly picnic and barbecue areas.
“Shurooq has been reaching new levels in the Emirate with its unique mixed-use developments combining retail, cultural attractions and F&B into master-planned destinations. An array of projects are being developed in strategic partnership with regional and international companies that have been instrumental in elevating Sharjah’s status as one of the Middle East’s most progressive and dynamic destinations, not only for tourism and trade, but also for catering to the ever-growing demand for residences and leisure,” Al Sarkal comments.
“Our vision to identify and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with strategic partners will see the entity explore opportunities in new verticals that are providing solutions to support diverse socio-economic sectors. These will include investments in technology and tech-driven sectors such as AI, robotics, healthcare, agriculture, education and industrial manufacturing, amongst others, all of which will effectively boost Sharjah’s economy and spur FDI growth,” Al Sarkal concludes.