Sharjah seeks to attract tourists through culture
By Francesca Cicardi
Sharjah, UAE, Sep 29 (EFE).- Sharjah, home to half of the United Arab Emirates’ museums, is seeking to leave its mark on the map of cultural tourism through hosting major events such as the Sharjah International Book Fair, as well as benefitting from Expo2020 that opens this week in Dubai.
Beyond Dubai’s shadow, Sharjah, where around 1.5 million people reside, has been promoting itself in recent years as the UAE’s Emirate of Culture, with a number of universities covering an area of ??2,500 square kilometers.
“It is fascinating actually to see what Sharjah has to offer. We have 50% of the country’s museums in Sharjah and each museum offers a unique experience and value… we tend to focus more on the value we give to our visitors,” Khalid Jasim al-Mifda, chief of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, tells Efe.
In an interview during the 10th edition of the International Communication Forum, al-Midfa defended Sharjah’s uniqueness and highlighted that it is not competing with Dubai, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
“We don’t compete. we complement each other very well. Dubai, our closest neighboring emirate is focusing on a different area, a very commercial area, while Sharjah is focusing on culture, heritage, art, adventure tourism and ecotourism,” al-Mifda explains.
While he did not want to reveal the 2020 tourism sector data, al-Midfa stressed that nearly 1.8 million tourists visited Sharjah in 2019, mostly Russians, followed by nationals from Persian Gulf countries, China, India, and fewer numbers from the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States.
Revenues reaching 573 million Emirati dirhams (about $155 million) have been generated thanks to the growing numbers of tourists, which decreased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.
Al-Midfa, however, hopes the sector would witness a noticeable recovery in 2021 especially after the Dubai Expo opens on October 1.
Sharjah’s head of tourism underlines that good results have been registered during the third quarter of 2021 and assured that not only will the Dubai Expo benefit Sharjah but also its other six sister emirates.