$60B Community Breaks Ground in Ajman, UAE

Following the lead taken by some of its larger neighbors, Ajman, the smallest in size of the seven federated states making up the United Arab Emirates, has broken ground on Al Zorah, a $59 billion master-planned “sustainable residential, business and leisure community,” according to a Reuters news report.  Al Zorah’s

Following the lead taken by some of its larger neighbors, Ajman, the smallest in size of the seven federated states making up the United Arab Emirates, has broken ground on Al Zorah, a $59 billion master-planned “sustainable residential, business and leisure community,” according to a Reuters news report.  Al Zorah’s developer is Al Zorah Development Co., a JV between the Ajman government and Beirut-based Solidere International Ltd. Solidere, Lebanon’s largest publicly traded company, is widely credited as a major force behind war-torn Beirut’s gradual re-emergence as a cultural and commercial center, It was founded as a public-private partnership in 1994 by then-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose family continues to be the principal shareholder since his assassination in 2005.  The project, according to Reuters, will be a self-contained city of more than 2,900 acres encompassing residences, offices, retail, schools, hospitals, resort hotels, marinas and other leisure facilities, and about 10 miles of beaches and waterside promenades.  When complete, the project will house 200,000 residents and workers. Ajman’s current population is 300,000, out of 4.5 million in the UAE overall. The initial phase will take 30 months to complete, but the entire project will be completed in 15 years, a spokesman told Reuters.  The scale of Al Zorah inevitably invites comparison with other Gulf region mega-projects, such as Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi, where the Shams Abu Dhabi development will occupy about a quarter of the island. The development will eventually include housing for 100,000 people, about 1.4 million square feet of commercial and recreational facilities, and a 247-acre park.  And in late March, CPN reported that MGM and Sorouh Real Estate of Abu Dhabi had partnered to develop a large hotel/retail/entertainment project in that emirate.