The last couple of years have seen the launching of major sustainable constructions projects in Sharjah, and the trend continues in 2019.
THE uae’s brand has come to be associated with all things “sustainable” and “smart” over the last decade. Suitability, in particular, is clearly outlined within national documents like the UAE Vision 2021, the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, and the UAE Centennial 2071 as a crucial objective.
And, it is no accident that these buzzwords are often heard together: many sustainable projects across the UAE are achieving sustainability by employing smart solutions. Development projects such as Aljada and Sharjah Sustainable City are good cases in point.
In 2019, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) announced its USD544 million plan for the construction of a sustainable city in Sharjah in partnership with Diamond Developers—a company with a good track record for its involvement in sustainable development in the country.
The project is designed in four phases and, if all goes according to plan—which is increasingly the case in the UAE—the first phase will become operational by the end of 2021. Located in Um Funnain, Sharjah, the project will include not only residential villas but also a school and a number of public facilities which will be built with the principle of maximum sustainability in mind. Full recycling of wastewater and 100% dependency on solar energy are among the main features of the sustainable development project, according to Shurooq, and futuristic add-ons like sustainable vegetable farming areas will be among its many bonuses.
This, however, was not the only launching event of its kind attended by HH Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Sheikh Sultan III was also present during the unveiling of another sustainable development initiative in the Emirate earlier in 2017: Aljada Smart City Project. Aljada was announced as a USD6.5-billion plan by the development company, Arada, and it can be described as a smart residential community in the heart of Sharjah, which upon completion will become one of the UAE’s most sustainable megaprojects.
Spread across 24 million sqft, Aljada Smart City Project has already become a fast-selling real estate development, not least thanks to its ecofriendly transportation, sustainable utilities, and cutting-edge telecommunications infrastructure. Aljada development is also equipped with a number of ecofriendly hop-on-hop-off buses, offering free rides to everyone moving across the residential community and beyond as an incentive to minimize the use of private vehicles.
The community’s smart bus network will be managed using a digital solution, which not only announces the arrival times, but also takes into account the area’s event calendar, updating the arrival schedules for different bus stops along the routes throughout the day to achieve maximum efficiency. However, some may still prefer private transportation, and Aljada’s smart residential community will come complete with well-positioned charging points to facilitate the use of electric cars. Meanwhile, the community’s electricity will be, in part, generated by state-of-the-art solar panels. Moreover, a traffic management system will be employed to ensure the optimal, congestion-free movement of cars around Aljada, while a parking app will allow residents to reserve their parking space prior to arriving at popular destinations around the city.
The first phases of Aljada development are scheduled to be delivered in 2019, though the entire project will not be completed until 2025. Both Aljada Smart City and Sharjah Sustainable City development megaprojects are in line with the UAE’s national ambition of achieving suitability across the Emirates, and both developers have emphasized the point that their respective construction projects will exclusively use ultra-secure, high-end materials.
Arada is currently negotiating with technology companies, with new partnerships in the offing. One of the key technologies in demand will be a local gird for the distribution and storage of renewable energies as the developer wants to ensure that Aljada’s urban lighting only uses renewable energy. According to Gulf News, a next generation 5G infrastructure will also be installed. The developer believes that the future of smart communities in Sharjah and the UAE lies in the promotion of knowledge-based economy, and Arada’s recent partnership with the American University of Sharjah can be a good starting point. A similar knowledge-based collaboration began in 2018 when the American University of Sharjah’s Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation (SRTI) initiative teamed up with the UK-based Future Cities Catapult—a center supported by the UK government and responsible for the promotion of smart cities.
It is expected that this strategic partnership along with SRTI’s incubator platforms and facilities will lead to the development of technological infrastructure needed for the expansion of smart and sustainable communities in Sharjah by engaging local private-sector companies, and international industry players, and attracting foreign investment.