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Sharjah is steadily gaining prominence as a holiday locale for families as well as a popular MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) destination.
According to figures released by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, tourists checking in to the hotels in the northern emirates have been rising every year.
In 2014, the numbers crossed 2 million for the first time, up by around three per cent from the arrivals in 2013. Sharjah currently has over 10,000 hotel room keys divided between 50 hotels and 56 hotel apartments. Around 4,000 new hotel rooms are expected to be added in the next three years.
Sharjah being a popular MICE location has resulted in Sharjah Expo Centre hosting a number of trade exhibitions. Spread over 128,000 square metres, it was the first exhibition venue in the UAE inaugurated in 1977. Around 10,000 square metres of additional space has been recently created to meet the rising demand. A new four-star hotel with 200 rooms is currently under development close to it.
Sharjah's tourism industry has benefitted from being named the Islamic Culture Capital in 2014 and growth is expected to continue this year, which will be Sharjah's year as the Capital of Arab Tourism.
The emirate boasts a rich cultural heritage with various archeological wonders kept in the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation and Al Hisn Fort. There are also new glitzy tourist havens for families like the Al Majaz Waterfront. A heritage hotel, Al Bait, is set to come up as part of the Heart of Sharjah development. The Heart of Sharjah is an ambitious project set for completion in 2025. It seeks to preserve old-world charm by restoring some old buildings and constructing new buildings in traditional style. These will be converted into hotels, cafes and art galleries.
• Sharjah will have 4,000 new hotel rooms in the next three years
• Al Bait Heritage Hotel is coming up at Heart of Sharjah project
• The Sharjah Expo Centre underwent expansion to meet demand
Source: S. Dhar, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer