Posted inFeaturesSustainable Spaces

Arada leads the green revolution with sustainable urban development in the UAE

Sharjah developer Arada is putting a focus on the role trees and greenery have to play in the UAE’s residential projects

Arada leads the green revolution with sustainable urban development in the UAE

If the future really is green, then UAE developer Arada is already ahead of the game as each of its Sharjah communities and forthcoming Dubai project have flora and foliage at their heart.

Most recently, Arada opened Shajar, a nursery and visitor attraction with 130,000 trees that are being nurtured before being planted in the company’s residential developments.

“Trees are hugely important from an aesthetic, health, and environmental perspective,” said Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group Chief Executive Officer of Arada. “The Shajar initiative allows us to spread awareness of the benefits of trees, while also demonstrating the importance of effective and sustainable natural resource management.”

Shajar, a word that translates to “trees” in Arabic, spans 1.6 million square feet, making it one of the UAE’s largest nurseries. The attraction is designed to boost environmental awareness among visitors, encompassing a welcome centre, tour experience and café, which are all surrounded by greenery.

The welcome centre informs visitors of the benefits of trees, as well as the effects of deforestation and biodiversity issues. The guided tour, meanwhile, allows guests to learn about some of the 50 types of tree species being grown at the nursery and the life stages of each. Visitors can also plant their own tree at the on-site workshop.

Green living in Sharjah and Dubai

Among Arada’s communities is Sharjah’s Masaar, a forested master development featuring 50,000 trees and extensive natural landscaping.

Masaar is separated into enclaves and communities, each with woodlands, parks and acres of space for walks, picnics, and other outdoor activities. The homes, which span two-bedroom townhouses to six-bedroom villas, will include smart-home features and direct access to the lush landscapes, while many also blend the environment within the design. The houses in the district of Robinia, for example, are designed around the traditional Sanskrit Vastu Shastra principles that integrate architecture with nature.

Nasma Residences, meanwhile, near the intersection of Emirates Road and Maliha Road in Sharjah, has been successfully designed as a self-sustained community with a 13-acre park.

The company is also in the process of building its first Dubai project, called Jouri Hills, in Jumeirah Golf Estates, where the homes—all of which are already sold—will offer direct access to green spaces.

Environmental and cultural principles

Aljada is Sharjah’s largest-ever development. It spreads over 24 million square feet, with more than 2.6 million square feet of green space, and will eventually encompass more than 25,000 homes.

Currently, 6,700 units are completed, alongside an entertainment space designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, an international school and retail, dining outlets and award-winning landscaping facilities.

It is all set within a green urban masterplan where trees are at the heart of it all, but Aljada is not only about environmental sustainability principles. The development also addresses social and cultural values.

This is seen in the development of Il Teatro, a new performing arts centre that will form an integral part of the community’s Naseej cultural district, a cluster of 19 buildings and residences that also incorporates Vida Aljada hotel and branded apartments complex, which will be operated by Emaar Hospitality.

Il Teatro, which is being designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando, will spread over 260,000 square feet and feature a 2,000-seat auditorium, a gallery and restaurant, with performances and shows spanning several disciplines, from opera to ballet and concerts to theatre.

Elie Mrad, Arada’s Chief Architectural Officer, said Ando’s architectural vernacular is perfectly suited to what the company is trying to achieve with Aljada. “[His] style neatly incorporates a range of natural elements including stone, concrete, light, and water, all of which combine to represent the beauty of simplicity.

“That approach has been captured in the design for Il Teatro and its surrounding plaza, which will act as a sociocultural meeting place for everyone.”

Arada committing to a more sustainable future

Arada, which was founded in 2017 by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi and Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, is also investing in a new research and development facility in Sharjah to bring a form of sustainable water treatment to the UAE—and the wider Middle East—for the first time.

The company also plans to construct and operate a water treatment plant that will treat, recycle, and produce treated water to use for the irrigation of landscapes in Aljada.

Construction is already underway on the plant and the first phase, which will have the capacity to recycle 5,500 cubic metres of water per day, is scheduled to be completed by April 2024. Two further phases will provide the capacity for 16,500 cubic metres a day and there are future plants planned to serve Arada’s other communities.

Alkhoshaibi said the project will help Arada achieve its goal of becoming a leader in the field of sustainable development. “We believe it’s important that private-sector companies commit to supporting the government by introducing greener and more sustainable technologies and processes wherever possible,” he said.

“Trees and green landscaping play a central role in all of Arada’s communities, and it’s vital that these areas can be nourished in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.”