Umm al-Qaiwain has become the latest emirate to launch multi-billion dollar real estate developments, with the government signing agreements with two local/Saudi Arabian joint ventures.

The more advanced scheme is the estimated $3,300 million Umm al-Qaiwain marina waterfront community. Emaar Middle East, a joint venture of Dubai-based Emaar Propertiesand Saudi Arabia’s Al-Oula, along with another Saudi firm, Watd Properties, will be the prime developer.

Under the plan, the group will build a 7.5 million-square-metre waterfront development containing about 9,000 housing units. The project includes 2,600 residential villas, 6,500 apartments, six beachfront resorts and four marinas located on the shores of Khor al-Beidah, a wildlife conservation area overlooking Al-Yufra creek.

Construction is expected to begin within the next three months. The client is also evaluating bids from five firms for the infrastructure engineering and project management services contract. US-based HOKhas completed the masterplan.

The government has also entered into a joint venture agreement with Sharjah-based Tameer Holdingto build an estimated $8,200 million city development located in the desert off Emirates road. Covering an area of about 220 million square metres, the project aims to create housing for 500,000 people.

To be divided into three phases, work on Al-Salam City is due to begin by the end of the year. Each phase is set to see investment of about $2,700 million. The scheme calls for construction of high-rise buildings, community facilities and retail and entertainment centres.

The first phase, scheduled for completion by 2008, comprises the entire city’s infrastructure, a downtown area with one of the federation’s largest shopping malls, 20 residential and commercial towers each of about 20 storeys, a residential district with 1,000 villas and 200 buildings ranging from five-10 storeys. It will also include a 50-storey luxury hotel.

Foreign nationals will be able to buy property in the project on a 99-year lease basis. The government will hold a 23 per cent stake in the first phase. Tameer is in final negotiations to select a consultant. Dubai-based Artech Projects Consultants and Managementis the concept designer. Tameer is 50 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rajhi Group(MEED 15:7:05).