When Construction Week interviewed the group chief executive officer of KBW Investments, Ahmed AlKhoshaibi, in April 2017, not even two months had passed since Nasma Residences was launched.
At the time, however, the project’s road infrastructure had already been completed, and all 107 units comprising Phase 1 of the five-phase development had been sold.
The latter was achieved in less than a month, making Nasma one of the fastest-selling residential projects in Sharjah, and establishing Arada – a partnership enterprise jointly formed in January 2017 by Saudi Arabia’s KBW Investments and the UAE’s Basma Group – as a significant new presence in the UAE property market.
“Arada may be a start-up, but it’s a strong start-up,” AlKhoshaibi said during the interview. “Name another start-up that sold out its first phase – or any phase, for that matter – in a month.”
Having hit the ground running on its inaugural project, Arada is keeping the development of Nasma Residences moving at a rapid pace in order to meet its Q4 2019 completion date target. Enabling works commenced in September 2017, with the main contract for Phase 1 awarded to Intermass Engineering & Contracting. The contractor began construction of the project’s first phase in January this year.
In February, Intermass was awarded one of the two contracts for Phase 2. The second was awarded to Klampfer Middle East, a Sharjah-headquartered company founded by KBW Investments and Basma Group. Construction of Phase 2 started in March.
Arada is currently in the tendering process for the Phase 3 main contract, which it plans to award in July. It is also expecting Arcadia Middle East – the designer of the project’s residential units and another KBW Investments-Basma Group joint venture – to complete the design of Phases 4 and 5 by the end of this month. All three phases are due to start construction this year. Khatib & Alami, meanwhile, has completed all infrastructure design.
Arada says it is in the process of choosing a contractor and consultant for the utilities-related infrastructure at Nasma Residences, which will include sewage and electricity facilities, as well as updates to the road network.
Giving Construction Week a tour of the project site, Mohammad Moussalli, director of development at Arada, says that 490 units of the approximately 800 villas and townhouses comprising the master-planned community have been purchased: “We plan to sell [all the units] within this year.”
He goes on to note that progress on Phase 1 has crossed the 25% mark, with structural works done for 20% of the units, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) and finishing activities now being implemented. Phase 2, meanwhile, is 5% complete. Construction activities on Nasma are expected to peak in Q1 and Q2 2019, taking the number of workers on site from the current 300 to 1,000-1,500.
Occupying 46.5ha of land in Sharjah’s Al Tay area, Nasma Residences is located on Emirates Road and is close to the new Sharjah Convention Centre – a detail that is said to differentiate the project from other residential developments in the emirate.
“What sets this project apart from everything in Sharjah are three things, one [of which] is location,” explains Moussalli. “[It’s] away from the traffic and is accessible to everyone in the northern emirates. It offers ease of access to Dubai, and is almost halfway to Abu Dhabi.”
The project’s amenities are also a selling point, he adds, saying that Arada’s goal is to provide residents with a sense of community and ensure that they have everything they need within the development. These amenities include a community centre, a mosque, a GEMS school, and a 6,600m2 shopping mall called Nasma Square.
The community centre, also designed by Arcadia Middle East, will feature a medical centre, a pharmacy, a nursery, a club house, and an anchor store, as well as restaurants and cafés. Moreover, green spaces like public parks will account for 40% of the development.
Moussalli continues: “You’ll have everything you need [in close proximity]. You will even be able to go on foot to the mosque, the school, the community centre, and the huge parks we are providing. We are providing all that at a price that is [affordable] for residents and locals.”
The price of a two-bedroom townhouse at Nasma starts from $272,257 (AED1m), according to Arada, revealing that the majority of its buyers so far has been Emiratis, followed by other Arab nationals and South Asians.
Offering his perspective on what makes Arada’s debut project different, Elie Mrad, head of architectural division at Arcadia Middle East, tells Construction Week that Nasma Residences has been designed with Sharjah’s culture in mind.
He elaborates: “It’s a challenge to design in Sharjah, because it has a strong culture. We have to understand that culture, so we did a lot of research and listened to the salespeople – to the way they sell and the feedback [they received] from the customers – and then implemented [what we learned] in our design.”
One cultural element that Arcadia factors into its work for Nasma is the issue of privacy, says Mrad, revealing that the firm addresses it by coming up with designs that will allow residents to welcome guests into their living room while still keeping areas like the kitchen private, or let them exit the house without passing by the living room.