Build around communities and attractions... Sharjah's Aljada development is adding to the list of reasons why it should be a visitor magnet. Image Credit: Arada

Community engagement has been one of the focus areas for Sharjah’s master developer, Arada. From creating interactive public spaces to supporting the academic sector, it has redefined the role of developers in community engagement. In an interview with Property Weekly, the CEO of Arada, Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, talks about these initiatives.

How have you reached out to the community with the launch of Madar?

We see Aljada as being a transformational project for Sharjah. It is a fully integrated community in the heart of Sharjah that was launched in late 2017, with around 4,600 homes now sold. Despite the pandemic, this is an important year for Aljada, as we are preparing to hand over our first homes in the community in the third quarter. Ahead of that, we wanted residents to see what living here is really all about and that’s where Madar at Aljada comes in. It is a new family-friendly entertainment destination for Sharjah and the UAE, with a range of activities and attractions. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, Madar at Aljada contains seven different attractions, including the Aljada Discovery Centre, a children’s adventure playground, an amphitheatre, an indoor events space and a skatepark. We’ve also recently announced the opening of Movie Nights at Aljada, a drive-in cinema that will show films every night for free starting from July.

What kind of community engagement have you planned through Madar?

Most developers tend to build the houses first, and then add facilities like parks, retail and so on afterwards. We wanted to do things slightly differently. We felt it was important to share a taste of what this exciting new project would look like when it was complete. Although our weekend events have been temporarily suspended due to the public health situation, we were delighted to welcome tens of thousands of visitors in February and March.

How can developers initiate more community engagement?

Engagement with the local community – both inside and outside a developer’s projects – is hugely important. An example of a long-term engagement is our relationship with American University of Sharjah (AUS). Perhaps the best example of our partnership with AUS is the sponsoring of a course at the university’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, which resulted in a number of architecture students designing the AUS Pavilion, a structure that will be built in Madar at Aljada.

We felt it was important to share a taste of what this exciting new project would look like when it was complete

- Ahmed Alkhoshaibi of Arada