The government of Umm Al Quwain has signed a joint venture with Sobha Group to build a major new Dh25 billion tourism resort on Al Sinniyah Island.
The development, known as Firdous Sobha, would cover a 53 million square feet site on the island, which is 1.2 kilometres from the shoreline. A bridge is also planned to link the island to the mainland and highway network.
It will contain a minimum of “four to five” resorts and hotels, according to the Sobha Group chairman P N C Menon, plus an 18-hole golf course, a separate par three course and an academy. It will also house boutique retail units, two villa communities, low-rise apartments and a marina. A series of man-made canals and lagoons will also be created around the site, with accompanying boardwalks.
The partners will each have a 50:50 stake in the joint venture, and it will be developed in phases. Detailed plans for the resort have yet to be drawn up, but it will contain 24 million sq ft of built-up area, including low-rise apartment blocks and luxury golf course and sea view villas.
A company will be appointed to handle master planning within the next two months, and detailed designs will be ready in six to nine months. Mr Menon expects that ground will be broken on site within a year, and the first phase will be completed within three years. Sobha Group will handle its construction.
Speaking at a signing ceremony held at the Umm Al Quwain Marine Club, the emirate’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Rashid bin Saud, said: “We are targeting eco-tourism rather than high-rise buildings. We want to have this island-friendly feeling to the emirate.”
Mr Menon said this latest project takes Sobha’s development pipeline in the UAE up to $18.5bn within three masterplanned communities – the other two being Mohammed bin Rashid City District One and the adjacent Sobha Hartland site.
“We’re also under discussion for another project. Hopefully, within six months we will announce it. With that, I think we are putting a cap to what we are doing in the UAE.”
Julia Knibbs, an associate director and UAE head of research and consultancy at property consultancy Asteco, said there was currently no comparable high-end mixed-use tourism and residential project in Umm Al Quwain, although Emaar Properties had previously developed a mid-range community of 277 villas known as Mistral Villas.
“It’s a good thing for Umm Al Quwain because it will create something more attractive in that emirate, but at the same time there’s a lot of new development occurring in competing emirates like Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Sharjah,” she said, adding that the emirate’s economic base was not as strong as in neighbouring areas.
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