Sharjah showcases present and future

Sharjah showcased a captivating vision of the present and future of tourism at ITB Berlin 2023. Led by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), the emirate’s innovatively designed pavilion at the event, powered by latest digital technologies, was a popular hive of activity and business networking for three days.

TT Bureau

SCTDA led a delegation of 15 public and private entities, tourist office representatives and travel agencies from Sharjah, who presented emerging investment opportunities in tourism to visiting business professionals, industry leaders and potential partners, in a series of meetings. At the event’s various discussion forums, the Sharjah delegation representatives also turned the spotlight on the efforts and innovations in the sectors of sustainable tourism, eco-tourism, adventure and cultural tourism driven by their efforts. Over the years, Sharjah has emerged as one of the regional leaders in these sectors, which are playing a major role in promoting and preserving socio-economic history and our natural environment.

Sharjah’s stunningly diverse natural beauty characterised by pristine beaches, rugged mountainous terrain – all enriched by the town’s unique cultural heritage come together to offer tourists and visitors several opportunities to explore. In recent years, these opportunities have expanded considerably through the hosting of cultural events, new adventure tourism and water sport activities, the opening of luxury hospitality destinations, as well as heritage attractions, which all contributed to Khorfakkan winning the prestigious award – an acknowledgement of the coastal town’s dedication to promoting sustainable tourism options and providing exceptional experiences to residents, visitors and tourists.

From experiential virtual tours of emerging touristic assets like the Sharjah Safari – the world’s largest wildlife safari park outside Africa, to serving traditional Arabic dates and coffee, Emirati garments, and more, the Sharjah showcase at ITB Berlin 2023 was a fitting reflection of the emirate’s modern outlook rooted in its authentic traditions.

On participating in this year’s edition of ITB Berlin, HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the SCTDA, said: “This is a key global industry event in tourism, which brings together leading players in hospitality, leisure and tourism from around the world. Our presence here offers promising opportunities to reinforce Sharjah’s position on the map of global tourism, particularly that the emirate has unique potential in which tourists and travel professionals alike showed great interest.”

He added, “Through our participation, which convened 15 public and private entities from our partners, we have successfully promoted Sharjah’s diverse touristic landscape and offerings. We harnessed our presence at ITB Berlin to promote the natural diversity and sustainable projects in Sharjah, as well as the various entertainment options on offer. Moreover, we introduced the public to unique tourism experiences and products, as well as the agenda of major events that enrich their experience in Sharjah. We also highlighted the authentic cultural aspects of its tourist destinations, given that the European market is one of the most important markets that exports tourists who are interested in culture, heritage and history to Sharjah. This makes the emirate an ideal attraction that meets the needs of European tourists in general and German tourists in particular. We aimed to take visitors in immersive digitally created tours across the emirate at our pavilion. The pavilion’s interactive design elements especially impressed our visitors. We look forward to translating the results of meetings held by the participating entities from the emirate into achievements and investment opportunities.”

HE Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah, said: “The bond between Sharjah and Germany has been cemented over centuries through trade, personal relationships and shared diplomacy. As the UAE’s most important trading partner in Europe, Germany has played a vital role in developing the country’s industrial sectors, but our relationship goes beyond trade and investment; it is grounded in deep cultural exchange, which has built a bridge between the East and West. For years, Sharjah has been popular among

German tourists seeking an immersive cultural experience, and the steady increase of visitors year-on-year is a testament to this. The emirate’s rich history, vibrant art scene, and luxurious hospitality offerings have attracted visitors from all over the world. German cities of Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt have also long been popular among Emiratis, showing the strong connection between our two nations. Tourism has become a crucial aspect of our relationship, not only as an economic driver but also as a means of promoting mutual understanding and tolerance between countries, cultures and peoples,” HE Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi added.

On Sharjah’s achievements and future plans on display at ITB Berlin 2023, HE Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, CEO of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said: “Shurooq is proud to be part of these collective efforts to raise the profile of Sharjah as a growing global destination. We are honoured to highlight our contributions to this unique journey of sustainable development. Shurooq is showcasing a selection of world-class developments, including the ‘Sharjah Collection’ managed by ‘Mysk by Shaza’, the Mleiha Archaeological and Ecotourism Project, Al Noor Island, The Chedi Al Bait hotel, Sharjah  and The Serai Wing – Bait Khalid bin Ibrahim, which have highlighted the beauty and limitless potential of Sharjah in wide-ranging sectors like eco-tourism, luxury and heritage hospitality, and arts and culture. We are also giving visitors an insight into our dynamic plans and future visions for our partners, our people and for Sharjah,” he added.

For her part, HE Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) in Sharjah, expressed the entity’s keenness to participate in prestigious international events like ITB Berlin, which focus their discussions on ways tourism and travel can serve as contributing factors to environmental, wildlife and heritage protection. EPAA joined this conversation by highlighting its Sharjah Safari project, which boasts 12 diverse natural environments and is home to endangered animal species who live freely on premises that extend over 8 square kilometres. Through this unique safari offering, Sharjah has consolidated its leading position as an attractive destination for lovers of nature and wildlife tourism, the EPAA Chairperson added.

HE Dr Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, Chairperson of the SIH, underscored that the entity’s participation in ITB Berlin reflects on its mission to engage with global stakeholders as well as global audiences, as well as promote its strategies and programmes designed across scientific, practical and academic disciplines to protect and preserve local heritage for future generations. “This participation stems from SIH’s keenness to establish a strong presence on the world tourism map, and communicate directly with industry counterparts,” he added.

Dr Al Musallam explained that the SIH’s participation in this edition of ITB Berlin is distinguished, attractive and includes an important visitor station. A specialist team welcomed visitors and provided various information and publications. In addition, craftswomen demonstrated traditional and popular crafts and Emirati food.

HE Ali Salim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Airport Authority (SAA), said: “ITB Berlin serves as the ideal platform for showcasing our expertise as an aviation industry leader in the region and as a global gateway, used by millions of travellers each year. Through our participation, we have highlighted smart services that the Sharjah Airport offers to travellers, and shared our project expansion plans to attract more airlines.”

He added, “This event creates key networking opportunities with aviation experts, allows the exchange of ideas, and exploration of new avenues for collaboration. We aim to keep with all the advancements in the global travel market, cater to the needs of our customers, particularly in the European markets, and enable entrepreneurs worldwide to learn about the diverse investment opportunities in Sharjah. This will further contribute to enhancing the Emirate’s position as a preferred destination for travel and business.”

HE Issa Hilal Al Hazami, Chairman of the Sharjah Sports Council (SSC), emphasised that their participation in ITB Berlin 2023 furthers SCC’s plans to highlight the role of sports in touristic, social and economic sectors, as well as in enhancing the emirate’s reputation in sports, in line with the directives of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin

Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. “We have showcased SSC’s new initiatives and events as well as its upcoming projects; ITB Berlin offers a vibrant platform to exchange ideas and share our future vision. It is an opportunity to showcase the emirate’s constant progress and highlight its leadership in various fields, particularly in sports. The diversity of tournaments hosted in different cities and regions of the emirate reflects its diverse natural beauty and introduces guests to its rich history, monuments, and peoples,” he said.

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