Sharjah is en route to become one of the most sustainable cities in the world with its green economy policy. Ecotourism is not only the future for Sharjah but also the answer to its social, economic and environmental goals.
Sharjah has been presciently laying the foundations for cultural and family tourism over the years. It has embarked on several ambitious ecotourism projects aimed at reinforcing the sector. “Over the past decade, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has worked to position the emirate among the top tier destinations for investments and tourism. Today, we have a portfolio of completed and ongoing projects worth AED 7.6 billion extending across a total area of 11.74 million square metres,” said HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Shurooq.
He added, “We have successfully achieved the perfect harmony between luxury and culture in developing our current and upcoming cultural and ecotourism projects.”
The exclusive developments include Al Noor Island, Flag Island, Mleiha Archaeological and Ecotourism project, Kalba Ecotourism project and Heart of Sharjah project. Each of these destinations tell a remarkable story and encompass culturally rich culinary and entertainment experiences.
All these factors have contributed to the emirate’s diversified growth. Shurooq invested around $1.4bn in hospitality and attractive projects between August 2015 and 2018. It has been positioning the emirate as an investment hub to the world at venues like World Travel Market London, ITB Berlin, and other top international shows, and the push has started paying off.
Al Sarkal continued, “Shurooq’s commitment towards developing projects focuses on the inclusion of diversified tourism sectors such as ecotourism, cultural tourism, educational tourism, archaeological tourism and more.”
He noted, “To deliver such qualities, values and experiences, we have partnered with leading global brands such as Shaza Hotels for its Sharjah Collection lodges and GHM for Al Bait Hotel respectively. During last year’s ATM, Shurooq signed a partnership with Emaar Hospitality Group, announcing the debut of the VIDA brand into Sharjah and unveiling of the first Al Qasba VIDA hotel through the joint venture.”
The central region of Sharjah is home to some of the most adventurous and authentic ecotourism experiences, including the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism project, and two of the Sharjah Collection boutique lodges – Al Faya Lodge in Mleiha and Al Badayer Oasis at the Al Badayer desert, one of the most well-known tourism destinations in the UAE as well as the region.
Nestled within the Kalba Ecotourism Project is Kingfisher Lodge, a collection of tented lodge-style accommodations surrounded by mangroves and diverse ecological zones, allowing guests to live in an environment-friendly way. The ongoing Khorfakkan Beach development project also promises a one-of-a-kind experience for both the domestic as well as international tourist.
These high-end ecotourism projects, set to transform the emirate into a major player in the luxury eco-resort sector, are a strategic approach to elevate the standards of Sharjah’s hospitality sector and boost investment prospects. It is just a matter of time before Sharjah will top the list of ecotourism destinations in the Middle East for both tourists and global industry players.