At Cityscape Global last month, Georges Khouzami, COO of Al Thuriah Group, unveiled the Muweileh Community right next to Sharjah’s beautiful University City. More than 21 schools, 17 universities and around 20 significant landmarks surround the place, making it the perfect location for students, professors and academic staff. At the launch, Khouzami spoke about the increase in demand for quality education that acted as the impetus to launch this project. “It is meant to promote workplace accessibility to the staff of educational institutions within the area, as well as give students the opportunity to look for accommodation in a well- planned community surrounded by a wide range of dining, entertainment and shopping options.”
Sharjah is known for high-yielding assets and not for capital appreciation.
In June, the Sharjah Real Estate Registration Department, the government regulator, announced that Dh14.7 billion had been invested in local property in the first half of the year. This figure is already 65 per cent of the total value of transactions for the whole of last year, which proves that demand remains robust in Sharjah’s property market. Interestingly, the highest number of transactions in the emirate has come from within the Muwaileh area, according to the report.
According to Khouzami, “Sharjah has never been known for capital appreciation. The emirate is known for high-yielding assets and will guarantee better returns compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Sharjah is also less exposed to international markets or to the influx of foreign investors. So if the Chinese devaluate their currency, Dubai would be affected, but not Sharjah.”
Against this backdrop, Al Thuriah expects to deliver Muweileh Community in the third quarter of 2021. “Our standards are high — from the quality of materials to ensuring that deadlines are met without fail, everything is taken care of by one of our companies such as Al Thuriah Properties, Al Thuriah Construction, Al Thuriah Leasing and Al Thuriah Facilities Management. Once investors have purchased one of our buildings they, can leave all the day-to-day running of it to us and enjoy a hassle-free investment with high returns,” says Khouzami.
The Muweileh Community follows Al Thuriah’s launch of La Plage Tower and Sahara Tower 6. Talking of the ripple effect of softening property prices in Dubai, Kouzami said, “The homes that we have built have residents who mostly work in Dubai. With the prices softening in Dubai, it has opened an opportunity for them to move to Dubai for the same rents that they were renting in Sharjah. So, like for like, we had to reduce our prices as well to match what’s happening in Dubai. But we have added better value by coming up with bigger units. For example, while in Dubai a one-bedroom unit will vary between 450 sq ft and 750 sq ft, in Sharjah they would get the same unit in the size of 1,000 sq ft or 1,300 sq ft. So when residents get a 50-60 per cent bigger space, it really matters to them. They are willing to drive a bit more to come back home to a bigger space, where as a family they can live comfortably. A bigger bedroom, a proper kitchen and three bathrooms for a two-bedroom unit — all these add up to make them want to buy property in Sharjah.”
Preference for end users
Does he have more end users or investors coming in? “During the first half cycle of the project, the investors come in. They purchase at a price that is slightly lower than what it would be at completion. But as we get closer to completion, the end users come in,” Kouzami explained. “It works for them as they can move in straightaway and don’t have to pay rent. They can also see the finished product and study it. I feel when end users buy we are doing something right. I love to have their feedback because they really care for the property.”
Talking about La Plage, his pet project, Khouzami says, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever worked on. I put my heart and soul in it and the 45-storey building has 90 different layouts for different types of families. At Dh550 per square foot, I would still go ahead and call this a luxury offering, as I cannot ask more in this market.”
Muweileh Community, on the other hand, has come up in an area that has so far never seen a well-rounded residential community. It has eight residential buildings in two distinct designs: Type A for corner plots and Type B for inner plots. Each consists a ground floor, two parking floors and five residential floors. Each floor consists of 11 unique apartments for a total of 55 apartments
“This is where the academia is focused in Sharjah. We have started construction and I can’t wait to see it come alive. The main purpose of the project is to cater to the academic staff and the students of the universities. We have tried to offer a unique lifestyle that never existed in such an area.”