Sharjah, the emirate of culture that wants to shine next to Dubai

This content was published on September 29, 2021 – 09:19

Francesca Ciccardi

Sharjah (UAE), Sep 29 (EFE).- The small emirate of Sharjah, in the shadow of its better-known neighbors, is seeking to attract cultural tourism, with half of the museums in the entire United Arab Emirates (UAE ) and initiatives like the International Book Fair, and take advantage of the Expo2020 which opens this week a few kilometers away, in Dubai.

Sharjah has been defined for some years as the emirate of culture, with several universities on an area of ​​2,500 square kilometers and a population of around one and a half million inhabitants.

“It’s fascinating to see what Sharjah has to offer, we have over 50% of the museums in the country and each offers a unique experience and value…we tend to focus more on the value we offer to our visitors,” he says. of the Sharjah Trade and Tourism Development Authority, Khalid Jasim al Midfa, told Efe.

In an interview at the International Government Communication Forum, which the emirate has been organizing since 2012, Al Midfa defends Sharjah’s singularity and particularity, while emphasizing that it does not seek to compete with its most famous neighbour, Dubai, which receives many tourists from all walks of life. on the world. .

COMPETITION WITH DUBAI

“We complement each other, we don’t compete. Dubai, the closest emirate, focuses on other areas, it is much more commercial, while Sharjah focuses on culture, heritage, art , adventure tourism, ecotourism …”, he assured with a smile but without failing to emphasize that there is no rivalry.

“The concept of competition exists but we maintain a healthy level of competition,” he adds.

“We have other objectives, another vision, which is to invest in people”, which is at the center of Sharjah’s strategy, under the leadership of a leader who, without as much oil as the other emirates , opted for the promotion of culture and education and its international projection.

The head of the Authority did not want to reveal the data of the sector in 2020, but pointed out that in 2019, almost 1.8 million tourists visited Sharjah, the most numerous being Russians, followed by those from other Persian Gulf countries, China, India. and, to a lesser extent, from the United Kingdom, Germany or the United States.

These visitors have generated revenues of 573 million dirhams (about 155 million dollars/132.8 million euros) and, although they have decreased significantly due to the coronavirus crisis, Al Midfa hopes for the recovery of the sector. in 2021 and the opening on October 1 of the Dubai Expo, about 50 kilometers away.

GOOD PROSPECTS

This year, the third quarter is showing good results, according to the head of tourism, who assures that Sharjah will benefit from the major world event in the neighboring emirate as well as from the seven that make up the UAE.

“We haven’t done more infrastructure for the Expo. We did that in a long-term strategic plan, but of course (those who attend) the Expo are going to visit many of our attractions,” says -he.

“In fact, we have had a very good relationship with the management of the Expo for five or six years, we organize and plan with them because we need each other,” he adds.

Tourism workers are also hopeful that the sector will recover, which is already beginning to rebound from the hiatus of 2020 due to the pandemic, for which the Emirati government restricted the entry of tourists in the first few months.

A souvenir seller in the souk in the center of Sharjah’s capital, Sultan al Amer, tells Efe that the situation is starting to improve now and that the majority of those who come to his shop are foreigners, Europeans and even Latin Americans, in organized organization. groups.

He assures that several tourist buses can now arrive per day, even if the high season has just started with the drop in temperatures, which are slightly below 40 degrees during the day and 30 at night.

The 20-year-old believes tourism is growing in Sharjah, although some older colleagues, like Abu Mohamed, who sells textiles at the souk, don’t share the same optimism as they prepare to open their shops at 4 p.m., when the heat begins to give a respite. ECE

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