Dar Al Arkan, the Saudi real estate development company, is elevating the luxury living experience with Aida — its mixed-use development project ensconced in the hilltops above the shores of Muscat. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Muscat, Aida is a modern paradise — an absolute oasis in the clouds. The project’s pièce de résistance is its hanging suites. “Engineering-wise, we’re proud to say that this has never been done before, anywhere in the world,” says the chairman of Dar Al Arkan, Yousef Al Shelash. “However, even the architect who designed the product still cannot believe that we will find a way to suspend these pods.”
According to Sheikh Yousef Al Shelash, Dar Al Arkan, founded by six families in December 1994, is currently working on all the engineering research and development necessary to successfully suspend the floor-to-ceiling glass pods 100 meters above the Arabian Sea. “People have planted pods in the mountains before, which is different,” says Al Shelash. “And the only people who have done this before, such as in Machu Picchu, Peru, used metal-and-glass pods, very old designs, whereas we are doing this at the level of a five-star hotel.”
Aida is the company’s first partnership with Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group) — the executive arm of the Sultanate of Oman for tourism advancement — to drive the development of the property market and support the growth of Oman’s real estate sector. The investment value from both parties will reach Saudi Arabian riyal 6 billion, and will be developed in three stages on an area of 3.5 million square meters.
“Oman has always offered an exceptional experience for residents and tourists, and the development of Yiti and Yankat areas will further elevate the nation’s offering and position it as a world-class destination,” says Ziad El Chaar, CEO of Quara Holding, which comprises Dar Al Arkan. “Our project in Oman builds on Dar Al Arkan’s strategic aspirations of elevating the standards and quality of the real estate sector in the region, but most importantly, with this project, we’re working to ensure a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to building a large, mixed-use development that fits in with the characteristics of the area.”
Dar Al Arkan Creates Aida As an Ode to the Sea
Visiting Aida in Muscat will be a must for those looking for unique experiences. “This is a bucket list item,” says Yousef Al Shelash. “They will be ready for the first visitors in three years.” At that time, visitors can expect to be cradled to sleep on the cliffs high above the gently rolling waves.
The project is made up of stunning residences, outstanding amenities, and breathtaking outdoor landscapes. Dar Al Arkan says the Aida is “a place where the earthy atmosphere envelopes 3,500 residential units of medium-sized villas, town houses, and low-rise apartments.” In addition, the property includes two magnificent hotels, a sprawling plaza populated with charming cafés and restaurants, and amenities that include prime shopping spots, state-of-the-art wellness centers with gyms and pools, and picturesque outdoor landscapes.
Between the cliffs, the company built nature-bound villas. “Each interconnected through winding pathways, each obsessively private. The villas are built to ensure absolute peace of mind and a continuous waterfall of inspiration, surrounded by the cliffs and mountains of Muscat,” states Dar Al Arkan. However, guests lucky enough to stay in the hanging suites, known as Aida’s “hidden pearl,” will enjoy the tranquility of the private pool. Each floating pod with floor-to-ceiling windows includes a cozy bedroom and en suite bathroom.
How Does Dar Al Arkan’s Aida Compare to Peru’s Skylodge Adventure Suites?
Aida takes sleeping under the stars to new extremes. Before Dar Al Arkan developed the suspended pods in Muscat, adventurous tourists needed to travel to Machu Picchu, Peru, for a similar, albeit less luxurious, experience.
The Skylodge Adventure Suites is a collection of four glass capsules, each with room for four guests and an attendant, as well as a dining capsule secured 1,200 feet up a mountainside. “This is the inspiration a little bit for the hanging pods that we’re doing in Aida,” says Al Shelash.
According to Skylodge’s founder, seasoned mountain climber Ario Ferri, the idea was inspired by the hanging tent system utilized by mountain climbers for staying overnight on rock faces. Al Shelash says, “You can go and sleep in these. They are only 6 or 7 square meters, whereas the Aida pods are 21 square meters.”
And getting to the Skylodge Adventure Suites is no easy task. Guests either need to hike the 1,200-foot via ferrata or navigate a hike and zip line trail accompanied by professional guides. “The building is very simple,” says Al Shelash. “It’s just glass pods, and they’re hanging from those cables. So you have to climb to go there.”
Raising the Bar on Real Estate Development
For the past 27 years, Dar Al Arkan has been committed to delivering top-quality projects. It operates in eight countries, has delivered 5,000 units, and is listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange since 2007. The company utilizes technological advancements in its projects, whether it be 3D concrete printing or real estate digital portals. It also collaborates with world-renowned artists, architects, and experts to build their masterpieces, and offers high-quality real estate opportunities to better the lives of homeowners and investors.
“Whether it is a new home or a new property investment, every future homeowner or investor should enjoy a contemporary lifestyle that matches their aspirations and success, as well as develops and preserves their wealth for future generations,” states the real estate development company. “With every project, from a single residential unit to a mega retail destination, Dar Al Arkan does not simply adhere to the global real estate guidelines. Instead, it puts expertise at the heart of it by continuously creating bespoke gold standard principles for commercial, residential and mixed-use projects, on-time delivery, construction, and maintenance.”
In addition to Aida, the company’s recent projects include the Pagani Tower, a residential building located in J One Tower in Downtown Dubai with interiors crafted by Italian sports car designer Horacio Pagani, and the 340-unit W Residences Dubai — Downtown. “That’s the first W Residence of its kind,” says Yousef Al Shelash. “All the other W properties are combined with a hotel. This does not have a hotel element, so this is more private. These are residences, so you don’t have this check in and check out, and have the hassle of losing your privacy in that development. This is your own private W residence with your own private W spa, and pool, and the meeting rooms. This is like you own that hotel or those residences.”