Sharjah retailers stand to benefit from an influx of new residents as soaring housing costs in Dubai make the northern emirate more attractive among commuters.
House prices in some residential submarkets in Dubai are closing in on their third-quarter 2008 pre-crisis peaks, according to a new report from Cluttons.
Sharjah's residential market, whose performance is closely linked to Dubai, is rising in areas - such as Al Nadha and Al Majaz - closest to its neighbour.
"The demand-spill-over phenomenon seen in the last property cycle is now being repeated and the recent introduction of a Salik toll gate on the Al Ittihad Road and the removal of the daily Dh24 Salik cap does not appear to have dented the appetite to live in Sharjah and commute to Dubai for work," according to Cluttons.
Retailers, such as Majid Al Futtaim, are now cashing in on the emirate's attractiveness by opening up community malls to serve residents. Majid Al Futtaim is renowned for its large shopping centres like the Mall of the Emirates.
Matajer, which are located in the Al Juraina, Al Khan, Al Mirgab and Al Quoz areas of Sharjah, have attracted more than 10 million visitors since opening a year ago.
"The one-year anniversary of [the malls] marks a significant milestone as we continue our mission to contribute to the economic development and sustainability of the emirate," said Ali Al Hashimi, the mall manager for community malls at Majid Al Futtaim Properties.
They are the only community malls of their kind in Sharjah, and the retail mix, which includes Carrefour, Baskin-Robbins, Caribou Coffee and Axiom, is specifically geared towards families living in the emirate.
Plans are in place to open two more community malls in Sharjah under the Matajer Mall brand at the end of next year. Majid Al Futtaim is also interested in opening community malls elsewhere in the UAE, but they would differ, said Mr Al Hashimi.
"Matajer is a brand name that is between Majid Al Futtaim and Sharjah Holding," he said.
"If there is another [partnership] between us and another stakeholder, probably it's going to be given another name."
However, where the centres would be had not yet been decided, added Mr Al Hashimi. "The concept is more targeting the mini communities of the urban areas of cities, so it could work anywhere."