Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has showcased its rich portfolio of tourist projects and leisure destinations to visitors and tourism industry experts during its sixth consecutive participation in the Arabian Travel Market (ATM 2016), which concludes April 28th at Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Shurooq’s participation at ATM 2016 forms part of its on-going efforts to promote investment prospects in the emirate’s tourism sector. During the exhibition, the Shurooq stand hosted a significant number of visitors and travel and tourism agents keen to find out about the authority’s new developments. Shurooq representatives gave detailed presentations about its new projects, most notably the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism Project, which proved popular with visitors and investors.
The Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism Project offers a new concept of tourism projects never known in the Arabian Gulf region before. The development has been designed as a unique destination that combines history, nature and culture, together with the art of hospitality, offering a new leisure experience to adventure and nature lovers.
HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq, said: “Sharjah is home to a range of exceptional tourist and leisure destinations, some of which are unique in the region. We are always keen to use our participation at ATM to highlight our portfolio of tourist projects, and this year we have place a focus on the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism Project, the first phase of which was launched in February.”
Historical studies conducted on Mleiha show that it was first inhabited 130,000 years ago. Findings have revealed archaeological treasures left behind by the successive civilizations throughout history, spanning the Palaeolithic Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and pre-Islamic-period.
The first phase of the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism Project saw the opening of the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, which was constructed within a specially designed building that allows visitors to gain a deeper insight into the region’s history in a fun and interactive manner. Designed to cater to the needs of tourists and provide them with information about Mleiha’s history, the centre highlights archaeological finds, has informative and educational displays with historical facts about the region and includes café and a library.
The centre is also equipped with interactive screens that display documentaries about Mleiha’s history, signboards with details about the area, a store for the brand ‘I Love Sharjah,’ service facilities and administration offices. The project houses a range of archaeological sites, including Umm Al-Nar Tomb, the Valley of the Caves, the Mleiha Fort, historic horse and camel graveyard, the farm house, the ancient farmhouse with kitchen, the pre-Islamic Mleiha Palace and burial chambers.
Marwan Al Sarkal said: “The advantages of the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism project are not limited to the tourist and historical aspects. It offers rewarding investment opportunities within the fast-growing hospitality and leisure sectors, as well as provides sports and other facilities. The project aims to consolidate sustainable development in Mleiha region, where it will offer job opportunities for the local community – either directly or through small enterprises – signifying its importance as a new source to the rapidly growing region.”
Al Sarkal added: “We look forward to commencing work on the second phase of the Mleiha project in collaboration with our partners and relevant bodies. The project is expected to see an estimated investment of AED250 million over the next few years.”
The second phase will involve the construction of the Mleiha National Desert Park over an area of 450 square kilometres. Operated in collaboration with the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority, the park will serve as a wildlife reserve that will see the release of a range of rare wild animals such as the Arabian Tahr, Oryx, gazelles and desert and mountain deer.
The second phase will also include the setting up of the Night Camping Park, which will be fully equipped to cater to the needs of camping lovers, in addition to a bed-and-breakfast style motel for overnight stays. Development work is underway to renovate old buildings at the site to serve as a motel within the project.
Phase two will also see the establishment of an astronomy observatory in cooperation with the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences, allowing for enthusiasts to enjoy the stars and sky from the centre of Mleiha.
Shurooq has allocated three areas within the project to be designated for luxury hotels and resorts to serve the local community and tourists. These designated areas will be offered to investors who are interested in benefiting from promising investment prospects available in the Mleiha project and the Central Region in general.
As the CEO of Shurooq explained; “The Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism project mainly aims to share the region’s archaeological treasures and ecological diversity with visitors and reflects Shurooq’s commitment to striving to protect our heritage and preserving our cultural history for generations to come. We intend to work towards promoting this important historical site in order to both protect it and bring visitors to it.”
Al Sarkal concluded by saying: “We still have unique future plans for the Mleiha project which will offer rewarding investment opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry and we look forward through these plans to contributing to the emirate’s economic prosperity, specifically in the tourism sector.”
Shurooq is also showcasing at its stand in ATM 2016 a host of its other leading projects, including Al Qasba, Al Majaz Waterfront, the Heart of Sharjah, Kalba Eco-Tourism project, Al Montazah Amusement and Water Park, Al Bait Hotel, Al Badayer Desert Camp, and Al Noor Island, among others.
Al Majaz Waterfront is one of the most popular destinations for tourists and residents and offers a variety of events and activities throughout the year.
Al Noor Island is located in Khalid Lagoon in Sharjah and is one of the most important and newest leisure destinations in the emirate and the UAE. Due to its unique location, the Island is a perfect venue for hosting various events and activities that attract thousands of visitors of various social and cultural backgrounds. Al Noor Island combines art, nature and leisure attractions that create a scenic and tranquil destination in the heart of Sharjah.
Al Bait Hotel, one of the most significant components of the Heart of Sharjah project, comprises five old buildings that have been renovated and redesigned as a five-star hotel within the historical area in Sharjah. The design for Al Bait Hotel’s interior has been developed to both create a high value luxury experience and to immerse guests in local heritage within traditional Arabian ambiance. The hotel project aims to offer guests the opportunity to experience the warm and comfortable Arabian hospitality.
On the second day of ATM 2016, the Shurooq stand received official figures, most notably Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the Ajman Municipality and Planning Department, who was received by H.E. Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq, and Shurooq representatives who briefed him on Shurooq’s projects and achievements.
In its 23rd year, the four-day Arabian Travel Market is expected to attract more than 36, 000 visitors, with the participation of over 2, 800 exhibitors. The region’s leading travel industry event offers an ideal platform for global travel agents to meet, network and discuss business opportunities in various sectors, such as destinations, travel technology, airlines, cruise tours, hospitality, car rental, and medical tourism and spas and health resorts.
The Arabian Travel Market show, divided into geographical regions and dedicated sectors, is attended by exhibitors from all over the world.