The government of Sharjah has identified 2003 as a year for tourism growth. When Sharjah was awarded the status of cultural capital of the Arab world in 1998 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), it was an official stamp of world recognition that Sharjah is living testament to art and heritage, contained within a thriving metropolis.
Director of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Mohamed A. Al Noman, explains that the appeal of Sharjah lies in precisely this mix of the old and the new. He explained: “The old part comes through the heritage and culture of 6,000 years of settlement; and the new is from the architecture and technology of an oil-producing nation”.
“Sharjah is, to a certain degree, still untapped in terms of its tourism potential. The government believed it was essential to develop the infrastructure and the development of commerce and injury before pushing tourism, but we believe the time is right for people to discover Sharjah.”
For many Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) residents, the emirate represents an ideal getaway, combining beach, shopping and culture. Al-Noman explained “Shopping is one of the most popular pastimes here in the Gulf, not least in the hot summer months. In the last couple of years, we have seen a boom in terms of shopping malls, with three new ones opening up in the last two years”.
“However, the traditional souks, selling everything from furniture to gold and spices, are as popular as ever; indeed the Blue Souk, for example, has become a tourist attraction in its own right, thanks to its distinctive architecture as well as its traditional market feel inside.”
Sharjah’s 22 museums play a pivotal role in attracting visitors to the emirates, with more than 400,000 people passing through their doors in 2002 alone. Perhaps the best known is the Sharjah Desert Park, which also has the Arabian Wildlife Center, the Sharjah Natural History Museum and a Children’s Farm in its grounds.
The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) was established in 1996, with a main objective to promote the commerce and tourism activities within the emirate of Sharjah. SCTDA activities include the organization and sponsorship of various events within the emirate, including the Formula 1 Powerboat Race, Spring Festivals, Summer Campaigns and roadshows. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )