Stock - Serai Wing, Bait Khalid bin Ibrahim
Shurooq plans to build things its way, focussing on Sharjah's Eastern Coast and the Central Region for its inspired developments. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Here are the options - build a G+X story hotel building. Or invest in re-developing a heritage site or one out in the desert into an eco-tourism spot. There are no prizes for guessing which one the Sharjah Investment & Development Authority (Shurooq) will choose.

“I don’t think we have developed even one hotel project in the G+X mode,” said Khawla Sayed Al Hashimi, Director of Project Development at Shurooq, which in recent years has taken the message of merging the environment and the wider economic aspects of tourism across its portfolio.

It does mean Shurooq needs to take the roads less travelled for instance it is doing with The Serai Wing, Bait Khalid bin Ibrahim. Dating back to the 19th century as a pearl merchant’s home, it will be turned into a 12-key boutique wing at The Chedi Al Bait, located in the centre of the Sharjah district. The transition of the merchant’s home will be completed by end of the year.

If this means breathing new life into old buildings in some remote parts of Sharjah and making them into destinations for new generations, we are fine with that.

- Khawla Sayed Al Hashimi of Shurooq

“What we want to do more than anything is transform how hospitality is experienced,” said Khawla. “There are certain parts of Sharjah where we could do that, such as the Eastern Coast, the Central Region, and even within the city.”

The Chedi Al Bait itself is grounded within those beliefs. The 53-key property, managed by GHM Hotels, was launched by Shurooq in 2017.

Striking out on its own

For these bespoke projects, Shurooq is making all the planning and the investments. And yet, there are other projects where the Sharjah investment firm has pulled in other developers, including Nakheel, Eagle Hills and Kuwait’s Mabanee.

Stock - Serai Wing, Bait Khalid bin Ibrahim
The Serai Wing was one of the Shurooq projects in the spotlight at Arabian Travel Market. This will see a 19th century home being re-purposed for a boutique luxury stay.

“Those projects where we have alliances are distinctly commercial, where the partners do have a clear understanding of return on investments,” said Khawla. “We are very much open to partnering to get these projects launched and built. It’s not as if we want to build everything of consequence in Sharjah.

“At the same time, there are certain developments linked to heritage sites, in the deserts and near mountains where the infrastructure will not be there. They may not yield the necessary high returns that partners may seek. Those projects we will keep building on our own. For us, these are important more than just a monetary aspect.”

Five launches, each distinctive

At Arabian Travel Market 2022, Shurooq launched five projects, including The Chedi Al Bait boutique extension. The others are:

  • The Najd Al Meqsar Village set in the mountainous stretches overlooking Khorfakkan. There will be 13 houses within the 100-year-old Najd Al Meqsar village, which were restored as part of a larger revitalisation project of the Wadi Shiesite by the Sharjah Infrastructure Development Authority. These will turn into luxury heritage-style hotel units.
  • The Lux Al Jabal Resort will be on the slopes of the Soueifa mountain and will have 45 one- and two-bedroom units, and a private suite complete with a swimming pool. The 187,000 square metre project will also feature a clifftop restaurant and is set to be complete next year.
  • There will also be the Lux Al Bridi Resort in Al Dhaid. The 35-key property is also scheduled for a 2023 opening and is situated adjacent to the Sharjah Safari project – the largest conservation park in the region.
  • Another reveal at the ATM was the Nomad by Mysk, which is a collection of 20 fully-equipped trailers ‘designed to complement their natural surroundings’ and will dot the sandy beaches of Al Hamriyah. Nomad will start welcoming guests later this year and is being billed as an ‘offbeat escape’.

“These are projects that we have been working on and should see completion by year-end or the next year,” the official added. “Do stay tuned, there are a lot of other projects we are working on that could come up through the pipeline. They will have the same attributes, of being eco-tourism ventures, relatively offbeat locations, and, most important, built by us. That’s the way we like to build.”

Talk about IPO is there, but…
With the UAE’s focus on deepening its stock markets, private developers have once again been mooting the possibility of coming up with IPOs. This is one option to source funds needed for their next development phase, rather than rely on debt finance, which is getting costlier, or offplan sales.

According to Khawla Sayed Al Hashimi of Shurooq, similar talk has often been raised within the entity. “It is not a route we are pursuing, the IPO. We will keep looking at solutions to raise new funds for our needs, but it will still be the old ways.”