Construction has begun on the reconstruction of the Souk Al Shanasiyah, one of Sharjah’s traditional market areas that was virtually lost to modernisation and is now being rebuilt on a 5,872 square metre plot in the Heart of Sharjah, one of the largest heritage developments in the Middle East. The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the investor/developer, aims to restore the neighbourhood to its 1950s appearance.
The Heart of Sharjah development is expected to be completed in 2025 and the current construction forms part of the first of five phases. The area will feature commercial, cultural and residential facilities, including the AED100 million (US$27m) Al Bait Hotel, restaurants, retail shops, art galleries, traditional and contemporary markets, archaeological sites, museums, play areas and commercial offices. Construction includes new buildings, reconstructed building and the renovation of historical buildings for a variety of uses.
With over 45,000 visitors before the site has even launched, Heart of Sharjah is expected to become one Sharjah’s biggest tourist attractions. The Emirate has already received 600,000 tourist visitors overall this year, with a total of two million tourists expected by the end of 2014.
Sharjah’s has garnered global attention this year after being selected as the Islamic Culture Capital for 2014, while 2015 will mark Sharjah’s year as the Capital of Arab Tourism.