The emergence of sustainable cities reflects a proactive approach to addressing the urgent issues of climate change and the complexities associated with urban living. Notably, in the United Arab Emirates, the Sharjah Sustainable City stands out as a model development, underscoring the emirate’s dedication to fostering environmentally conscious lifestyles.
In an exclusive, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Sustainable City, Yousif Ahmed Al Mutawa, provides valuable insights into the city’s progressive efforts in seamlessly incorporating renewable energy sources and implementing eco-friendly infrastructure. This discussion highlights the innovative strategies employed by Sharjah Sustainable City to pave the way for a sustainable and ecologically responsible urban environment.
Economy Middle East: What was the inspiration behind Sharjah Sustainable City?
Yousif Ahmed Al Mutawa: Sharjah Sustainable City is a partnership between the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Diamond Developers.
This collaboration was formalized through a memorandum of understanding in March 2018. Groundbreaking took place in 2019. The primary objective was to establish a residential project adhering to the highest standards of social, environmental and economic sustainability. The city is a dynamic and forward-thinking entity committed to creating a globally recognized development that positions Sharjah as a preferred real estate investment destination within the region.
Economy Middle East: Could you provide an overview of the project’s size, phases and housing options?
Yousif Ahmed Al Mutawa: The city covers an area of 7.2 million square feet in the Al Rahmaniya area of Sharjah. It is an inclusive community consisting of 1,250 three-, four- and five-bedroom villas spread across four phases. It offers mixed-use amenities with a variety of sports and wellness facilities, including separate gyms for men and women, health clinics, retail shops, food and beverage outlets, as well as a nursery.
A leading sustainable developer in the region, it’s seeing strong sales performance in all four phases. For example, the fourth and final phase launched in May 2023 has seen 60 percent of its 324 villas purchased. This follows an overwhelming response to its first three phases. The first two comprise 604 spacious and modern villas that are now fully sold out. The only limited availability remains in phase three, with 90 percent of villas already sold. We expect to have the final phase ready by Q2 of 2025.
Economy Middle East: What makes Sharjah Sustainable City stand out among sustainability projects in the UAE and the region?
Yousif Ahmed Al Mutawa: Sharjah Sustainable City is the first sustainable master-planned residential community in the emirate of Sharjah. Its buyers enjoy the advantage of zero service fees for the first five years post-purchase. Furthermore, every spacious villa is designed as a smart home, equipped with rooftop solar panels and energy-efficient kitchen appliances. These innovative elements, combined with features such as thermal-insulating construction materials, smart home automation and energy-saving electrical fittings, contribute to saving up to 50 percent on utility bills. It comes on top of a sense of security provided by our round-the-clock security measures, complete privacy, top-notch maintenance, and ample parking.
Economy Middle East: How does it support sustainability pillars and the U.N. SDGs? How does it contribute to the fight against climate change and environmental preservation?
Yousif Ahmed Al Mutawa: The city understands the importance of protecting our planet and creating a better future for generations to come. It incorporates innovative technologies and practices that help reduce our ecological footprint while promoting social well-being. It’s a revolutionary project that supports SDGs by focusing on sustainability, renewable energy and green living.
Some of the SDGs that the city supports include:
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. The city’s goal is to rely 100 percent on renewable energy sources, like solar power, to meet energy demands.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. The development promotes sustainable urbanization by having green spaces, walking paths, bike lanes and jogging tracks.
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. The city encourages residents to recycle, reduce and reuse waste through educational and practical recycling programs.
SDG 13: Climate Action. The city is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable living practices to address the issue of climate change.
SDG 15: Life on Land. It aims to preserve and protect natural ecosystems, including native flora and fauna, by implementing sustainable land-use practices.
SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. Firmly believing that collaboration is vital to achieving SDGs, the city partners with like-minded individuals and organizations to create a sustainable community.
Economy Middle East: What environmental benefits does a sustainability-focused community offer?
Yousif Ahmed Al Mutawa: The city raised the profile of Al Rahmaniya and Sharjah. The city has become one of the key landmarks in the emirate and a catalyst for growth, leading to environmental development.
It aspires to achieve Net Zero. Additionally, it aims to provide practical solutions related to food security, water and energy management, and conservation of natural resources. The city also treats 100 percent of its wastewater for landscape irrigation and maximizes recycling to divert waste from landfills. It features facilities such as green domes with vertical farms that can produce about 90,000 kilograms of chemical-free leafy greens and vegetables. Furthermore, the city promotes walkability and will have 80 EV charging stations across four phases.
Economy Middle East: How about socioeconomic benefits?
Yousif Ahmed Al Mutawa: We have seen the establishment of more facilities like schools and new businesses in the adjacent areas. This proves how the city boosts employment and income generation. Moreover, thanks to its facilities and eco-friendly environment, it has led to improving the overall well-being of its residents. After COVID-19, we have seen more and more people realizing the importance of wellness and moving to locations where they can be closer to nature.
The city has also helped in decentralization. It develops a unique, diverse neighborhood that has created its own identity that caters to the needs of people and the environment. It also reduces congestion in the emirate’s urban centers. The city has also put efforts into educating its residents and visitors about sustainability’s importance.
Our goal is also to make an eco-conscious community that values sustainable living. By sharing knowledge and building capacities, we expect a chain reaction of positive change that never stops. We want to make our residents ambassadors of sustainable living, promoting green living, especially in MENA, which is vulnerable to climate change.