From Abu Dhabi to Fujairah, the residential property boom is widespread, as the United Arab Emirates’ economic bandwagon goes up a gear and shrewd investors and developers look for returns beyond the ‘honeypot’ cities.

One key factor in the countrywide surge has been the completion of the Emirates Road highway, making previously inaccessible northerly emirates, such as Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah, easily reachable – within an hour’s drive from Dubai. Of this trio, Ajman is setting the freehold pace.

Advertisement

Barely registering a blip on the property radar this time last year, Ajman is now making waves following the introduction of its freehold law. Its key positioning is its tempting prices, with property costing anything up to a third less than in Dubai.

Eye catcher

Among the most eye-catching developments is Emirates City, a residential and commercial town-sized freehold development being built in Ajman. It will be located on the Emirates Road, close to Tameer Holdings’ Al Ameera Village, which is a 20-minute drive from Dubai and Sharjah International airports.

Emirates City will transform Ajman with 72 residential and commercial towers, ranging between 20 and 50 storeys. These include the 40-floor Lavender and Lilies Towers, which R Holdings is developing at a cost of Dh260m ($71m) and Dh250m respectively. Paradise Lake Towers will be a collection of 25-storey towers that surround the two Emirates City lakes; four of the towers are part of Goldcrest Dreams, which is being developed by Star Giga Establishment.

Another significant development in Emirates City will be the Orbit Tower by Palm Real Estate Investment Group. Contracts for construction of the 30-storey tower are up for tender and project completion is scheduled for August 2009. Architects’ firm Adnan Saffarini has designed the tower, and is acting as consultant and supervisor. The tower contains 400 one and two-bedroom units, priced between Dh245,000 and Dh400,000.

Freehold residence

Al Naeymiyah Towers, claiming to be the first freehold residential development in Ajman, will contain 15 apartment buildings, each 70 meters tall and with 16 storeys. The initial price for a large two-bedroom apartment was Dh282,000, and Dh369,000 for a three-bedroom flat.

Three towers from Al Naeymiyah Towers phase 2 purchased by Star Giga Establishment and have been renamed The Pearl Residence. Al Khor Towers, also referred to as Creek Towers, are freehold residential buildings being built close to the Ajman Khor (Creek). Its towers are identical to the Al Naeymiyah Towers. Al Khor Towers will contain nine 16-storey apartment buildings, with only four apartments per floor. The units will either be two or three-bedroom apartments from 462 square metres (m2) to 721m2 in size. Due for completion by August 2007, Al Khor Towers will be easily visible across Ajman’s skyline and will be built close to the Etisalat building and Ajman city centre.

Al Noor Tower, springing up along the Sharjah-Ajman road, will be a 20-storey building containing 180 apartments and eight retail units. The apartments will vary in size from 213m2 to 621m2.

Al Ameera Village is a residential and commercial project being built in the city of Ajman. The freehold development will be located on the Emirates Road and will cover an area of about 279,000m2. The development will consist of 50 traditionally designed residential buildings, hotel apartments, commercial areas and a shopping mall.

Counting the stars

Nujoom Islands, also referred to as Stars Islands, is the largest commercial, residential and tourism development project in the city of Sharjah. It will cover 5.6 million m2 of coastal land on the north-eastern coast of Sharjah, along the shores of the Arabian Gulf, 15 kilometres (km) from the centre of Sharjah. It will be accessible from Ettihad Road, which crosses the southern side of the project, and Emirates Road, which connects to the project through an 8km strip.

Nujoom Islands is being built by Al Hanoo Holding Company, which is also behind Sharjah’s Emirates Industrial City. The project will be built in three stages over five years, near the village of Hamriya. Nujoom Islands will increase Hamriya’s coastal area by 30km with its extensive waterway system. Ten islands will be connected by bridges and contain 40 high-rise towers for residential and commercial purposes, 145 apartment buildings, four hotels, two resorts, and 1400 waterfront and parkside villas, five marine clubs, a large commercial centre, including a hypermarket, nine smaller commercial centres, two entertainment centres and six centres for light industries. Nujoom Islands is expected to house more than 40,000 residents.

Other Sharjah towers being planned include ABBCO Tower, Al Ameera Tower, Sharjah Gate, the 32-storey Al Taawun Tower and the 47-storey Al Sandos Tower.

Towering efforts

Fujairah’s efforts on the freehold market have been limited to the 43-storey 170-metre Al Jabar Tower, which is due to contain 270 residential apartments, commercial shops and showrooms.

One of Umm Al Quwain’s most ambitious developments concerns Al Salam City, which is being built in three phases over 15 years. Tameer and the Al Rajhi Group of Saudi Arabia each own 38.5% of the project and the Umm Al Quwain government holds the remaining 23%. Construction work on the first, five-year phase, which will cover an estimated area of 67 million m2, is expected to start later this year. On completion, Al Salam City is planned to have 1000 buildings.

Umm Al Quwain Marina is also set for big changes with 2600 residential villas and 6500 apartments planned, most of which will be either on the waterfront or on the beachfront. Some of the villas with waterfront views will be built on a large island with gated access and a series of smaller private islands will offer luxury waterfront villas. An additional 1200 resort and hotel rooms are planned, as well as parks and recreational areas, retail facilities, schools and community centres.

Emaar Middle East, part of Emaar Properties, is developing the project, which is located on the shore of the wildlife-rich Khor Al Beidah. The 1488-acre project is scheduled for completion within seven years. Tendering, infrastructure engineering and project management are expected to begin shortly.

Further east, a new project, Fujairah Paradise, has stirred interest from many Gulf Co-operation Council citizens, who have snapped up about 80% of the 1000 villas. The mountainside project, which is due to be completed early 2009, will include a 250-room hotel and other tourism-related facilities.

Good value

Global Investment House’s UAE real estate report states that Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Sharjah will be the most popular of the outlying emirates, in that order. “We expect these emirates to continue to offer a good value proposition for investments, considering the relatively low entry price. However, in terms of the scale and the number of developments, opportunities would fade in comparison with those in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” it said.

Estimates of Demand for New Houses in the UAE