Q&A: Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority
Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority
Sharjah is home to a rich cultural and natural heritage, which attracts many visitors from around the world, driving the growth of the emirate’s tourism sector. Golden desert sands, serene beaches and ancient mangroves coupled with modern-day attractions and outdoor adventures, Sharjah has developed a reputation as a go-to destination for families, offering them a chance to experience some of the unique wonders and beauty of the Arab world.
Amidst the current global situation, the Sharjah Government has maintained the highest international tourism standards and established new ways to ensure the safety of its residents and visitors while they continue to enjoy the many tourism spots in the emirate. Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) remains committed to enhancing the safety of tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several initiatives and partnerships including the Sharjah Safe for Tourism Stamp, which adheres to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) safety protocols, have been launched. The stamp is a globally recognised label awarded to tourism facilities, which meet international health, hygiene and safety standards.
SCTDA continues to revive tourism and hospitality sectors by strategising with our private sector partners, gaining back the confidence of tourists, guided by the gradual relaxation of travel restrictions. We are aided in this by the launch of several new projects, especially along the east coast of Sharjah.
Kalba and Khorfakkan, along the east coast of Sharjah, is considered an exceptional tourism destination with offerings for all ages and interests –adventure, nature, heritage underpinned by the intriguing biodiversity of the region. Picturesque natural surroundings showcase tourism projects that focus on sustainability, such as the Kalba ecotourism project, one of the largest ecotourism projects in the UAE.
The East Coast, given its strategic location, has seen the introduction of an extensive list of tourism projects; the development of Khorfakkan city, the Cloud Lounge, situated at an altitude of 580 metres above sea level features breathtaking panoramic views, Wadi Water Canal, providing visitors with the opportunity to ride water buggies, connects to the sea of the Khorfakkan beach. Furthermore, Al Rayaheen hostel, Youth Hostel in Khorfakkan, Shees Park and Lounge Project, Najd Al-Maqsar Village, the Amphitheatre, Khorfakkan Fort, Al Rabi Tower, and Al Adwani Tower, to name a few, have been conceptualised to seamlessly integrate the elements of sustainability, heritage and nature, with a focus on maintaining the balance between the environment and tourism growth.
Several infrastructural developments have also been undertaken to boost local tourism under the wise guidance of Sharjah’s leadership, including major national projects such as road extensions, designed to provide ease of access and connectivity for the city’s residents and visitors throughout the year. An important coastal area with an ancient history as a stop on marine routes, the East Coast also looks forward to welcoming the return of cruises to the port of Khorfakkan as soon as the situation returns to normalcy to accommodate visitors as well as domestic and international tourists.
Tourism has always been and will continue to be a major driver of the UAE’s economy as the country enters a new phase of growth and development. We, at SCTDA, look forward to being partners in the UAE’s tourism success saga with much enthusiasm and optimism as Sharjah continues to strengthen its partnerships with both the private and the public sector as well as with local and international organisations to ensure the growth of the sector in line with developments on the global tourism landscape.