Sheikh Youssef Al Shelash: Innovation Is Driving Development 

Sheikh Yousef Al Shelash is the chairman of Dar Al Arkan, a leading real estate developer headquartered in Saudi Arabia. The construction and building industry in that region of the world is thriving in the first half of 2022. A recent report stated that in Q2 2022, construction and building activities comprised 11.6% of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economic activity. Dar Al Arkan real estate development is driving some of that growth and is known to incorporate technology and exclusive elements of luxury into its projects.

That same report credited real estate activities for 14.5% of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy. Since its inception in 1994, Dar Al Arkan has expanded to operate in eight countries and delivered 15,000 residential units and 500,000 square meters of commercial space. Sheikh Yousef Al Shelash says the company’s goal is “bigger than just the commercial target of building houses and apartments and making money. In addition to making money, the main motivation is to build houses and apartments where families grow and build a community.”

The company has crafted a reputation for building properties at the intersection of quality and luxury like new and innovative residences with state-of-the-art amenities to ensure the properties are as energy efficient as they are aesthetically pleasing.

Innovation on the Rise in the Middle East and Around the World

Dar Al Arkan is a global brand,” says Al Shelash. He takes pride in showing the world another image of what Saudi is by being successful in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and Spain. In February 2022, the company opened its first office in China. Al Shelash says that the company is “showing the Saudi values in delivering on promises, and delivering on quality, and delivering on time. This is what we [strive to do] in our real estate projects outside Saudi Arabia.”

The Urban Oasis with interiors by Missoni is the company’s first project done outside Saudi Arabia. Embracing co-branding in Dubai on the exclusive waterfront property has been an asset to the real estate development company as it establishes itself in the United Arab Emirates. “If you dress up in Missoni, and you have some Missoni furniture, and you attend Missoni fashion shows, why not live in a Missoni apartment also?” asks Al Shelash.

The company states, “The best of Miami is now in Dubai. Immerse yourself in only the second distinct residential tower in the world with interiors by Missoni. This is the Urban Oasis, where Miami’s mood, vibes, and lifestyle are expertly captured in every detail. Enjoy exclusive waterfront living, with penthouses accessed by private elevators, luxury apartments, first-class amenities, and sweeping views of the city and the canal.”

The Dar Al Arkan chairman supports 3D construction technology. The company partnered with the Danish 3D printing company Construction Buildings on Demand (COBOD). The cutting-edge construction technique is catching on worldwide because of the benefits of 3D construction printing technology, including it being a safer way to lay the groundwork for a structure. The machines also work more quickly and efficiently.

In early 2002, Habitat for Humanity debuted its first 3D printed home in the United States. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom concrete structure took 28 hours to construct in Virginia. It’s a solid 1,200-square-foot house, and the exteriors were built to withstand hurricanes and tornadoes. “We hope this new 3D technology will be another way to build more affordable homes for families with low to moderate income,” stated Janet V. Green, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg region.

In the Middle East, 3D printing is creating equally important housing, and Dar Al Arkan is paving the way with its collaboration with COBOD, a global leader in modular 3D construction printers. The company stated, “Leveraging 3DCP will not only transform the real estate market through increased efficiency, quality, and growth but also empower national talent, resulting in a better quality of life for everyone in the Kingdom.

“The 3D Concrete Printer (3DCP) is very similar to the standard fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer. While the FDM prints scaled-down 3D models for buildings and projects, the 3DCP is capable of printing actual-size units that are safe, solid, and EU-certified.”

Using this technology, the company, led by Al Shelash, can print an entire house with three workers, and it only takes two days to set up the printing structure and one day to dismantle it. Not only does this type of construction meet the highest safety standards, but it’s highly customizable, and the printing structure can be adjusted to print residential spaces in a range of sizes. 

Yousef Al Shelash Talks Innovative Projects

Perhaps Dar Al Arkan’s most ambitious undertaking is the Shams Ar Riyadh. Located in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Shams Ar Riyadh spans 5 million square meters. Commercial and residential buildings are mingled among high-end restaurants and lush landscapes. 

The company intends to make it a smart neighborhood by connecting the audio and visual communication services into one network. The development also includes technologically advanced management systems for heating, cooling, and security needs. “Because Shams Ar Riyadh is close to Riyadh, the company had the option of developing some of the most luxurious villas,” says Yousef Al Shelash. The interiors of many of the luxury villas were created through collaborations with internationally renowned designers. “We were able to create more premium products because of its proximity to the city center,” says Al Shelash. “This is one of many master plans that Dar Al Arkan does.”

The company’s Shams Al Arous is a best-in-class integrated community in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The residential and mixed-use properties include schools, commercial centers, and exquisitely landscaped green spaces. The company states, “The residential areas of the project are characterized by contemporary designs, both diverse and harmonious, with multiple areas of apartments and villas. [In addition,] the infrastructure of the project is ideal, as it includes a major road network with an extension to Palestine Road, internal roads and sidewalks, electrical power and water supply networks, a drainage system, street lighting, and landscaping.”

Another of the real estate development company’s finest residential projects, Buraydah Hills, Al-Qassim, is approximately a nearly five-hour car ride from Shams Ar Riyadh. The development, built with high-quality infrastructure and front-line engineering, includes residential apartments, high-end villas, and unique plots for buyers to build their dream homes. Dar Al Arkan states, “This authentic community is engulfed by premium amenities that pay homage to Saudi roots but stay true to its aim of bettering the quality of life for its residents.”

“Buraydah Hills offers more than just world-class infrastructure such as water, electricity, and bureaucratic services. It also provides recreational activities, such as commercial spaces, schools, markets, mosques, green spaces, gardens, walkways, and bike paths.”

With the construction technology ecosystem constantly in flux, it’s worth watching to see what Yousef Al Shelash and Dar Al Arkan will build next.