Zaha Hadid-designed Aljada development inspires new Saudi Arabia mega-project
Developer Arada plans to launch a project in Saudi Arabia that will be comparable to – and perhaps larger than - the $6.5 billion Aljada megaproject on its home turf in Sharjah, according to CEO Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Arabian Business reported.
Aljada, which was launched in September 2017, is a still only partially completed, master-planned, 24 million square foot megaproject with residential and business portions, as well as student housing, hospitals, schools and entertainment venues.
In an interview with Arabian Business on the sidelines of Cityscape in Dubai, Alkhoshaibi said a comparable development will be launched in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s in Riyadh, and at a minimum, it will be the size of Aljada, if not bigger,” he said. “It’s a similar concept: a fully-encompassing city with all the amenities, quality, and all those facilities, at an accessible price point. It’s the same strategy we did for Aljada.”
Alkhoshaibi declined to provide further details on the project, other than saying that it's expected to be formally announced in the first quarter of next year.
Saudi Arabia, Alkhoshaibi added, has become increasingly attractive for Arada, which originally first envisioned an expansion to Dubai before the kingdom.
“When we launched Arada, we had a roadmap, or a masterplan, which was to become number one in Sharjah, move to Dubai, then Saudi, and then the Western world, the UK or Australia,” he added. “We’ve altered that, so Saudi will come next….we’ll still come to Dubai, but we’ve put Saudi first.”
According to Alkhoshaibi, approximately 4 percent of Arada’s UAE sales come from Saudi nationals, which leads him to believe the firm is “just touching the surface”.
“We did the research, and saw there was huge demand from Saudis to buy, in Saudi, and that they want something like Aljada,” he said.
To cater to a growing Saudi customer base, Arada has established an office in Riyadh’s Al Faisaliyah Centre, which he said is expected to open by December this year.
“With this office, we expect our sales to grow anywhere from 20 to 30 percent for the UAE market,” Alkhoshaibi said.
While Alkhoshaibi said that Arada still has plans to expand across Sharjah’s borders into Dubai, it is “probably not the time now”.
“It’s obvious that supply and demand is an issue. We don’t want to enter into a market where we can’t really perform at our greatest,” he added. “We feel that right now, Dubai is going through a transition.”
Additionally, Alkhoshaibi said that Arada is confident that Dubai will emerge “really strong” over the next several years.
“We’re still watching and analysing locations. We haven’t stopped researching,” he said. “But right now, Saudi is hot.”
Arada is a joint venture between Sharjah's Basma Group and Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed's KBW Investments.