He clarifies, however, that Nasma units come in a variety of layouts, in consideration of buyers coming from different cultural backgrounds. “We have some [that feature] open kitchens. I call it a multi-cultural design solution.”
Sustainability has also been a major consideration in the project’s development, with Arada and the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) working closely to make sure that Nasma as a community will be energy-efficient.
“The main concern now for most people is the efficiency of the air conditioning [equipment] and the water and power usage, so everything we will put into our [units] will help reduce water and power consumption,” says Moussalli. He notes that for cooling, the developer is still deliberating over two options: standard direct expansion (DX) and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems.
“We will see which is more feasible for us and for the end users, because when it comes to efficiency and power load, there’s not much difference between the two at this stage,” he explains. “People think that VRF [technology] offers more power savings, but in the end, it will depend on the design. You can [install] VRF systems, but they might not work efficiently in your [property], so you might as well use DX.”
Arcadia, for its part, tries to introduce as much natural lighting and ventilation into the design of the project’s residential units, in addition to being careful with their orientation, says Mrad: “Most [of the units] face north to [avoid] the intense heat of the sun. With units facing south, we try […] to orient all windows and openings to the north.”
Moreover, to “sustain and maintain” the spaces between villas and maximise their use, the consultancy is turning them into cul-de-sacs that residents can use either as a car park or as a playground for children.
“We are also exploring the potential of using electric cars, especially near the community centre,” he says. “And we comply with the green building code of Dubai, because we want our buildings to address [the needs] of all end users and not just those from Sharjah.”
This emphasis on diversity when it comes to the buyers of Nasma Residences is not surprising and, indeed, reflects the growth of the property market in Sharjah, an emirate that HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, chairman of both Arada and Basma Group, has described as a “secure and sought-after destination”, one that is indeed attracting an increasing number of investors and real estate developers.
Arada, says Moussalli, has had a hand in the growth of the Sharjah market: “When we launched Nasma, we expected the project to succeed. But to be one of the fastest-selling projects in Sharjah? That’s [another] thing.
“We are also working closely with the authorities, because change begins with not only the buyers but also the authorities [that are behind] the regulations and legislation. Of course, the direction comes from the ruler. If [HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah] hadn’t taken the decision to expand [the market] and bring in investors to Sharjah, none of this would have happened.”
Developers weren’t always as open to the idea of building in Sharjah as they are at the moment, recalls Moussalli: “[Many] of the large developers in Dubai weren’t brave enough to come and take that step, but we were. We [saw] that Sharjah was a place that can grow, and [we were] willing to take the challenge.”
Having decided to take the challenge, as Moussalli phrased it, Arada proceeded to engage with government bodies like SEWA and Sharjah Municipality. This collaboration has yielded positive results, with Nasma Residences getting the required support from the agencies concerned, and Arada, in turn, contributing to the Sharjah community.
“I believe change has already come to Sharjah,” says Moussalli. “Everyone is now rushing [into the emirate] to develop new areas and bring in new ideas.”