With a new legislation that came into effect this spring, Sharjah for the first time allows non-Arab nationals without a UAE residency visa to purchase property in the emirate on a 100-year renewable land lease. The move aims at stimulating demand and increasing foreign investment in Sharjah’s real estate market and is seen to be a game changer for the sector.
The new policy is expected to spur residential development, as well as lifestyle and retail projects. Furthermore, Sharjah residents who are not keen on buying property because their residency visa is bound to employment, are expected to make up the first wave of buyers. Others will likely be investors looking to purchase into affordable master-planned communities, as well as those looking to rent out homes to the growing number of students and office workers in the emirate.
“All this will stimulate demand, together with continued efforts by Sharjah to develop the private sector, strengthen the economy by diversification and shape a favourable environment for job creation, business growth and investment,” said John Stevens, managing director of property consultancy Asteco.
It is also expected that the drive for more residential developments in Sharjah will kick off a new rivalry with Dubai, where developers are now also focusing on providing more affordable housing.
“It is true that Sharjah established itself as a major destination for real estate investment in the region,” said Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, or Shurooq, adding that “we achieved this by stimulating the market in Sharjah in two ways: understanding the real estate market and providing investors with the highest possible return on their investments.”
Currently, there are a number of major freehold and long-term leasehold developments under way in Sharjah by developers such as Arada with its $6.5-billion (Dh24 billion) Aljada development, Alef Group with its car-free Al Mamsha community, Majid Al Futtaim Group/Sharjah Asset Management with its Uptown Al Zahia development and an Eagle Hills-Shurooq joint venture that has three projects already announced, Maryam Island, Palace Al Khan and Kalba Waterfront.
A big incentive for developers
Property Weekly talks to Low Ping, CEO of Eagle Hills, on the future of Sharjah’s property market and how the emirate’s new real estate legislation will help shape it.
What is your perception of the property market in Sharjah?
Abu Dhabi and Dubai have established the UAE as a top tourist destination, and we are now seeing visitors branching out beyond these emirates. Sharjah is also witnessing a distinctive boom in its diversified economy. It is already a popular residential destination because it provides such easy access to Dubai, and it is now becoming a business in its own right. We believe the residential demand will mirror this growth and diversification.
How will developers react to the opening of the property market to non-resident buyers?
This decision will allow developers to promote their projects globally and target investors from around the world. This will certainly encourage more developers to invest in Sharjah, driving its ongoing diversification and development as a premier lifestyle destination.
This decision will allow developers to promote their projects globally and target investors from around the world.
- Low Ping, CEO, Eagle Hill
Do you expect more lifestyle developments in Sharjah?
Sharjah has approved a budget of Dh22 billion for the fiscal year, with 24 per cent of this dedicated to infrastructure. On the back of this strong government endorsement, many developers will be open to exploring investment in Sharjah. Furthermore, the population in Sharjah is increasing dramatically due to the growing workforce, which will necessitate new projects to match the increasing demand for housing and leisure destinations.
Is affordable housing in Dubai negatively affecting Sharjah?
We have seen great demand for affordable housing in Dubai, however, due to the growing business workforce in Sharjah we do not expect this to have a negative impact. Sharjah will remain a business hub and a preferred destination in itself for many UAE residents, especially those that are also working in the emirate.