Monthly Archives: November 2016

Al Qasba Lights Up For National Day Celebrations

Visitors to Al Qasba are enjoying the build-up to this year’s UAE National Day with an array of special effects lighting to mark the occasion. The newly–installed lamps and projectors are creating a unique ambience at Sharjah’s premier leisure, tourism and family destination, with the illuminations a forerunner to a programme of traditional music and dance activities over December 1-2 that will celebrate the founding of the nation.

The special lighting at Al Qasba is leading up to the location’s National Day celebrations over December 1-2, with heritage entertainment a key component of the schedule. From 4:30 pm until 10:00 pm on December 1, Emirati group Al Bahri will be performing traditional dance routines that reflect the fishermen’s way of life over the years, with another local group Al Harbeya reprising their own style of Bedouin dance for audiences on December 2 at the same timings. For those wanting to enjoy a spectacular form of nocturnal illuminations, there will be a captivating fireworks display at 10:30 pm on December 2 to mark UAE National Day.

“Al Qasba is an integral part of the community in Sharjah and a focal destination for visitors from the UAE, GCC and beyond. As such, it is committed to playing a leading role in honouring the nation and in highlighting its achievements throughout the past 45 years. This includes celebrating the National Day and paying tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our way of life. We have designed the illuminations at Al Qasba to evoke a sense of pride in the UAE for all visitors and put on traditional dances in order to showcase our strong heritage,” said Sultan Mohammed Shattaf, Al Qasba Manager.

Al Qasba offers an array of state-of-the-art facilities and tourist attractions, including restaurants, cafés, the Kids Fun Zone, the Al Qasba Musical Fountain, the Eye of the Emirates Ferris wheel, the Maraya Art Centre and two libraries, among other facilities designed to meet the needs of visitors of all ages and communities.

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Sharjah Tourism Eyes 200,000 Chinese Visitors By 2021

Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) is preparing to welcome 200,000 Chinese visitors to the emirate of Sharjah by 2021, according to a statement.

HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa Chairman of SCTDA, explained that China is major international source market for tourism and commerce. Hotels welcomed over 75,000 Chinese visitors during the first 3 quarters of 2016 showing a 75% year on year growth.

“Through taking into account the Chinese markets distinctive characteristics and focusing on the Sharjah’s strengths and unique cultural tourism offering, we are confident that we can continue the upward trend of this market into Sharjah. We are aiming to confirm 200,000 Chinese guests’ nights in 2021,” said HE Khalid Al Midfa.

“Our latest workshop with our partners Air Arabia in the north-western Chinese city of Urumqi – capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, was another part of our Chinese strategy aimed at achieving this growth. The delegation met with the region’s major travel agencies and overseas tour organisers to discuss strategies for boosting Chinese tourism to Sharjah, as well as to gain a better insight into the markets current trends,” he added, “the increased initiative to attract visitors from China has been boosted with the new Chinese visa on arrival regulation as well as the many new initiatives by the Authority and stakeholders to attract further visitors.

During the visit in Urumqi the delegations discussed new flight opportunities. Currently Air Arabia is the only outbound tourist carrier from this region and is running at high capacity suggesting there is further potential from the region. Air Arabia arranged meetings and workshops with their key agents among other outbound tourism providers.

The workshop included a presentation covering the Emirate of Sharjah’s rich history and cultural heritage, as well as its diverse tourist offerings and emphasised the emirate’s central location in relation to all continents, and underlined its character as a city and an emirate steeped in history and unwaveringly attached to its heritage.

With so much to offer, including Heart of Sharjah, Al Majaz Waterfront, Mleiha archaeological site, and the Central Souk, supplemented by a range of exciting events, such as the Sharjah Light Festival, Sharjah International Book Fair, and the upcoming U.I.M. F1H2O World Championship – Grand Prix of Sharjah, in December 2016 there was a genuine interest from the attendees.

The presentation concluded with an overview of the phenomenal growth that the travel and tourism sector in Sharjah has undergone, along with a preview of projects in the pipeline and of the sector’s promising growth prospects in the near future.

His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, said: “We, at the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, spare no effort in promoting our emirate as a year-round destination for people from any country around the world. This workshop is of utmost importance to us, seeing as China is our fastest-growing source market; the number of Chinese visitors to Sharjah increased by a staggering 75.2% in the first nine months of 2016, when compared with the same period in 2015. SCTDA regularly hosts Chinese travel industry and tourism media representatives on familiarisation trips to Sharjah, these trips provide a perfect opportunity to highlight the emirates offerings and future tourism development plans, as well as to explore different methods of cooperation to attract more Chinese visitors to the region. We are leaving no avenue unexplored in our efforts to meet our 2021 targets. The opening of a new office in the eastern part of China at the end of this month reaffirms our commitment to ensuring the numbers from this market continue with steady growth.

In 2017 Sharjah will focus on its eco diversity along with its culture and we are confident that this will continue to be a great platform to keep Sharjah in the mind of all global markets.” concluded HE Al Midfa.


Al Qasba Celebrates Sharjah’s First Ever Indian Fest

The UAE’s first ever Indian Fest got underway yesterday (Wednesday) at Al Qasba, Sharjah’s premier leisure destination, with the opening of the inaugural festival to celebrate Indian culture and traditions enjoying a huge public turnout.

Continuing until Saturday, Indian Fest is featuring a variety music, dances, art, entertainment and culinary offerings that showcase India’s vibrant culture and rich cultural legacy. Among those attending on the first day was K. Muraleedharan, Deputy Consul General of the Consulate General of India, Dubai.

Day one of the four-days Indian Fest saw a programme of music and dance performances that were applauded by residents and visitors to Al Qasba. Accompanying the Indian classical and folk music recitals. Other musical-themed activities taking place were semi-classical dance competitions for children and adults, traditional Indian street dance routines and performances from Kachhi Ghodi, whose members roamed the walkways of Al Qasba entertaining entrants to the popular family leisure destination.

Visitors to Al Qasba during Indian Fest can enjoy puppet shows by professional artists from Rajasthan and can participate in decoration tutorials and bangle workshops. Also on site is an Indian market, which is offering visitors the opportunity to buy souvenirs, such as garments and accessories. The Indian souq is also selling numerous traditional artifacts which are proving popular with Indian heritage lovers.

Cuisine is at the top of the menu at Indian Fest, with audiences enjoying live cooking demonstrations that present the most delicious dishes from every corner of the nation. There is a also line-up of food kiosks and stalls where visitors have the chance to taste a wide variety of Indian delicacies, as well as traditional street food.

Sultan Shattaf, Al Qasba Manager, said: “We organised this festival in celebration of the deep–rooted relations and strong ties between the UAE and India. Through it we seek to highlight the rich cultural heritage of the country, including its food, music, art and traditions.”

Shattaf expressed his delight with the overwhelming response the Indian Fest got on its first day and urged everyone to enjoy its extensive programme of activities that continues over the weekend. Indian Fest is open daily from 4:30 pm-10:00 pm. Today (Friday), visitors have the chance to learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle by practicing Yoga during an interactive presentation from Sumit Manav, which takes place at 7:15 pm on the main stage (next to Block A).

Al Qasba boasts a range of state-of-the-art facilities and tourist attractions, including, several restaurants and cafes, the Kids Fun Zone, the Al Qasba Musical Fountain, the Eye of the Emirates Wheel, the Maraya Art Centre and two libraries, among other amenities designed to meet the needs of visitors of all ages.

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Sharjah Hotels Welcome 1.3 Million Guests In The First 9 Months Of 2016 And Growth Continues To Look Strong

Hotels and hotel apartments across the Emirate of Sharjah welcomed a combined 1,318,748 guests in the first nine months of 2016 (January to September).

The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) released the statistics as it took part in the World Travel Market (WTM) in London on November 7-9, 2016. The Authority headed a delegation from the emirate at the World travel Market, where it profiled tourism projects taking place across Sharjah, and explored opportunities for new contracts from the European travel market. The UK market offers a good platform for growth and the Authority is keen to increase this market by 16% this year.

The 1.3 million guests spent a total of 2,943,106 nights in the emirate’s hospitality facilities during the first 3 quarters of 2016 – a 19% increase from the 2,482,721 nights spent in Sharjah in the same period in 2015. Meanwhile, overall occupancy rates remained at 62%, the same rate as last year’s.

The GCC region remains a key market segment for Sharjah showing the success of the campaigns run throughout this region reflected through the fluctuations and increases as a direct result of the marketing activities during the first nine months of 2016. Europe remains the fifth most important market to the region. New contracts signed at WTM this year suggest that the predicted 16% increase in this market will start to show shortly.

The biggest growth market for Sharjah continues to come from China; in the first nine months of 2016, Sharjah welcomed 62,936 Chinese visitors – a staggering 75% growth from the 35,928 guests welcomed during same period in 2015. Work will continue in China to further double this number by this time next year. There is considerable scope there and this market will undoubtedly continue to deliver results while the Emirate looks to establish other serious source markets.

On the same note, Sharjah witnessed a 12% growth in the number of Pakistani visitors. It is reassuring to see recovery in the traditional Russian markets with tourism showing an 8.7% increase which is the first real positive measure of growth since the rubble devalued.

His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA, said: “Sharjah’s travel and tourism sector has been scoring impressive results since the beginning of this year, it is spreading its risk by having a diverse portfolio of markets and this has been supported by the host of programmes and promotions organised by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority in collaboration with other stakeholders. As Sharjah aims to achieve its ambitious targets of 10 million visitors by 2021 it is confident that all the markers are showing good growth. During the first 9 months of this year Sharjah’s travel sector generated AED497 million in revenues, pointing to the success of our efforts to bolster the sector and, subsequently, the emirate’s economy.”

H.E. Al Midfa added: “The GCC region maintained its position at the top of our list of source markets as a result of good connectivity among other factors. However, the emirate has witnessed a significant increase from a diversity of markets representing our strategy focus. Sharjah stands out with its tourism offering, that combines culture, entertainment, and shopping to create a truly remarkable experience for everyone that visits.” Sharjah has 105 hospitality facilities with more due to open this year. It offers an interesting mix of international brands and boutique hotels, which are spread equally between city and beaches.

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Sharjah International Book Fair Attracts 2.31 Million Visitors And Achieves AED 176 Million Sales

Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) concluded on a record-breaking note on Saturday, with the 35th edition of the world’s third largest book fair the most successful to date. Titled ‘Read More,’ SIBF 2016 hosted more than 2.31 million visitors over its 11 days, with the footfall figures breaking all previous records established since its first edition in 1982. The volume of book sales at the fair reached AED 176 million, the highest ever in its three-and-a-half decade history.

Hosting 1,681 publishing houses from 60 countries with approximately 1.5 million titles on display, SIBF 2016 ran from November 2-12 at Expo Centre Sharjah. Visitors enjoyed an array of sessions hosted by its Kids Activities programme, Cultural Activities programme, Cultural Café, Cookery Corner and Social Media Café.

More than 600 school visits were a feature of SIBF 2016, with the total attendance from all segments of the community helping to create a buzz around the fair that was evident through the prevalence of its hashtag ‘#SIBF2016,’ recorded more than one billion impressions in English and Arabic. The hashtag proved to be an extremely popular trend through social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), said: “The UAE leadership’s decision to promote reading and a love of books has been an instrumental factor in making this year’s edition of Sharjah International Book Fair its most successful to date. His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has been the strongest supporter of the event having believed its potential from its very first edition three-and-a-half decades ago”.

The Chairman of SBA stressed that the 35th edition of the book fair boosted SBA’s ambition to make SIBF the world’s number one fair in terms of number of visitors, and total sales.

Significant announcements made during SIBF 2016 included Al Ameri revealing the brand name ‘Turjuman’ for the AED 2 million Sharjah Translation Award for international translation and authorship award which will be run by SBA. Offering further support for SIBF, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi announced that he was making a personal donation of AED four million for Sharjah’s libraries to purchase books from participating publishers at the fair, thereby considerably enriching the emirate’s literary landscape.

An array of cultural personalities and media celebrities participated at SIBF 2016, including renowned Egyptian actor Ezzat Al Alaili, Algerian poet and novelist Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Saudi poet Dr. Mohammed Al Muqrin, Palestinian poet Ibrahim Nasrallah,  Iraqi researcher and writer Rasheed Al Khyoun, International relations expert Dr. Parag Khanna, Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and Indian film actor and producer Mammootty. Famous authors taking part included Cassandra Clare, writer of The Mortal Instruments fantasy novels and Eric Van Lustbader, New York Times bestselling author who has penned 10 of The Bourne Series novels.

Guest of Honour at this year’s was the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which was chosen in recognition of its efforts in promoting education and culture in countries affected by war, conflict and natural disasters. UNESCO presented a rich programme of activities at the fair as part of its strong relationship and shared interests with Sharjah, the Capital of Arab and Islamic Culture.

On the sidelines of the fair, the third edition of the joint conference between SIBF and the American Library Association (ALA), took place from November 8-10. The SIBF/ALA conference hosted an array of presentations and discussions that dealt with the pressing issues and most recent developments relating to book archiving, storage and retrieval, with a main focus for this year being the library’s ever-expanding role as a community centre.

Each year, SIBF brings together hundreds of government and semi-government organisations, publishing houses, distributors, booksellers, e-publishers, rights agents, cultural institutions, public libraries, research centres, publishers’ associations, university libraries, media and producers of literary and educational aids. The event will shortly be moving to a new venue to facilitate a capacity increase that will take it from the 25,000 metre floor space that it has occupied to one of 60,000 metres.

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Al Qasba To Host ‘Indian Fest’ Next Week!

Al Qasba, Sharjah’s premier leisure, tourism and family destination, is gearing up to host the biggest Indian cultural extravaganza the emirate has ever seen. Al Qasba Indian Fest, scheduled to be held from 16 to 19 November, will be a four-day showcase of India’s vibrant culture and heritage.

Featuring classical dances, music, arts and entertainment from all corners of India, the festival aims to celebrate Sharjah’s love of world cultures. From colourful puppet shows, rangoli’s colourful decoration workshops and competitions, bangle workshops to a variety of folklore dance performances from all over India, an interesting line-up of eclectic programmes has been planned to leave visitors thoroughly entertained.

Other attractions will include classical music evenings and dance competitions, live cooking demonstrations, traditional Indian street dance performances, plus an interactive lecture on how to lead a healthy lifestyle through Yoga by Sumit Manav on 18 November, at 7:15 p.m. on the main stage next to Block (A).

“The objective behind organising the Indian Fest is to highlight the emirate’s strong passion for cultural engagement. India has been intentionally chosen as the festival’s theme this year considering the huge international appeal its culture has, andthe large Indian population residing in the emirate. Through this festival, we will be able to further Al Qasba’s role in promoting cultural and entertainment activities in Sharjah, creating awareness about the importance of the destination as a major centre that advocates family values in the UAE,” said Sultan Shattaf, Al Qasba Manager.

A line-up of food kiosks selling sumptuous Indian delicacies and stalls offering authentic Indian crafts, spices, garments, accessories, and the famous Indian carpets made of hand woven natural silk and fleece will be exhibited at Al Qasba all throughout the fest.

Al Qasba destination will be soaked in the beauty and grace of Indian culture throughout the festival. Colourful Indian fabrics, handmade umbrellas, Rajasthani puppets, and other vibrant Indian accessories will adorn the premises, creating a mini India, right here in Sharjah.


“Sharjah Stamp Exhibition 2016″At Mega Mall Narrates The Region’s History

Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr, former Speaker of the Federal National Council inaugurated today the 6th annual edition of the Sharjah Stamps Exhibition 2016 – one of the most prominent cultural events hosted by Mega Mall, Sharjah’s leading shopping destination.

The opening ceremony was attended by Abdullah Khoury, President of the Emirates Philatelic Association, Morhaf Kishi Director of Properties at Mega Mall, and Mohammed Sorour, Marketing Manager of Mega Mall, as well as a number of officials from both sides.

Running between 8-12 November, the cultural exhibition comes in cooperation with the Emirates Philatelic Association, and sheds light on an array of UAE, regional, and international postage stamps. It represents and ideal opportunity for collectors and philatelists to swap, buy, and inspect rare collections of valuable stamps.

Commenting on the inauguration, Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr, said: “the Sharjah Stamp Exhibition echoes the UAE’s history and achievements throughout the years, by showcasing an array of iconic stamps, postcards, and collectables that represent eras of the country’s history and culture.”

Al Murr said that Stamps and postal marks mirror the history of a country, describing philately as a sophisticated hobby that carries a significant historical and cultural value.

For his part, Mohammed Sorour, Marketing Manager of Mega Mall, said: “For many in the region, The Sharjah Stamp exhibition is considered one of the most important cultural events in the Emirate, bringing together veteran philatelists and enthusiasts, who share the common interest of preserving heritage through stamps.”

Sorour noted: “We at Mega Mall are always keen on organizing the Sharjah Stamp Exhibition – in cooperation with Emirates Philatelic Association- to attract large groups of individuals and institutions alike, with the goal of promoting the culture of stamp collection.”

“Previous editions of the exhibition proved a great success, and was praised by participants and visitors alike”, he added.

The first day of the exhibition saw huge turn-out of visitors from different nationalities and age groups, with many postal authorities, stamp traders, collectors, visitors and journalists attending the event.

Visitors inspected a wide range of local, regional and international stamps, and stamp accessories; such as albums, magnifiers, medals, stamps books, in addition to books and publications that explain the importance and history of stamps, with some dating to more than 100 years ago.


Historic Aircraft To Go On Display In Sharjah

A rare example of the passenger aircraft that is synonymous with early jet air travel in the UAE made its final journey when it arrived in Sharjah this month.

The front section of a Vickers VC10, fondly nicknamed ‘The Queen of the Skies’, recently arrived from the UK by boat before being driven through the mountains from Khor Fakkan to Sharjah Al Mahatta Aviation Museum.

There it is being added to the permanent exhibits for the UAE community to gain unique access to the cockpit, cabin and cargo hold of a plane that regularly touched down in what is now the UAE and throughout the Gulf in the 1960s and 70s.

The aircraft will be a lasting example of a great airliner known for its ability to operate in hot climates. Only 44 models of the British-made VC10 were ever built, despite it being second only to Concorde in the time taken to cross the Atlantic by a jet airliner.

Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department, said: ‘We are honoured to be bringing this icon of air travel to Sharjah for people of all ages, and especially aviation enthusiasts, to enjoy.

The arrival of the VC10 adds another chapter to the story of aviation in the UAE, and in particular Sharjah, from where the first commercial landing took place in October 1932 at Al Mahatta Airport.

SMD would like to extend a special thanks to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, for his foresight and generosity in ensuring that this historic aircraft was transported all the way from the UK to its permanent place at Al Mahatta Museum.

The section of aircraft to go on display in Sharjah is from a Super VC10. It was built for East African Airways Corporation in 1969 and registered as 5X-UVJ. It flew on routes taking in London, Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, and Kampala.

In 1979 it was sold to Britain’s Royal Air Force to be converted into a flight re-fuelling tanker and for a further 28 years it operated mainly out of RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.  Huge fuel tanks in its cabin replaced the rows of passenger seats. In March 2013 it flew its last flight into Bruntingthorpe Airfield in Leicester to be ‘˜struck off charge’ and taken out of service.

And now the aircraft has completed the last leg of its distinguished service. The front 40 feet of the aircraft was loaded on a cargo boat in the UK and shipped to the port city of Khor Fakkan, where it arrived in early May. There, it was mounted onto a truck to continue its journey westwards over the Hajar mountain ranges of central UAE until it arrived at the aircraft hangar at Al Mahatta Aviation Museum.

Al Mahatta Aviation Museum is considered to be the first airport in the UAE, which was built in 1932 as a staging post for commercial flights en route from Britain to India. It was converted into a museum in 1999/2000 to tell the story of the history of flight in the UAE and the region.

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For more information on Al Mahatta Aviation Museum, and other museums in Sharjah, please visit www.sharjahmuseums.

More Than 650,000 Visitors Attend Sharjah International Book Fair In First Four Days

More than 650,000 visitors have attended the first four days of this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) – a record in its 35-year history. The collected data indicates that the current edition of the fair, which concludes next Saturday at Expo Centre Sharjah, will break the record for overall number of visitors at a single edition, surpassing even last year’s SIBF which reached one million visitors by its close.

HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), organisers of the annual SIBF, announced that the fair has attracted approximately 655,000 from Wednesday to Friday – a figure that has broken the SIBF 2014 record of 520,000 visitors over the same period.

Al Ameri highlighted the factors he believed have played a key role in attracting a greater number of attendees to the fair this year, pointing to the ‘Year of Reading 2016’ initiative and numerous other literary-themed campaigns and activities organised by government bodies that have encouraged residents and tourists to visit the 1,681 publishing houses and enjoy the 1,417 activities taking place at there.

SIBF 2016 welcomes visitors from 9:00am to 10:00pm Saturday to Wednesday, 9:00am to 11:00pm Thursday and 4:00pm to 11:00pm Friday. Hundreds of cultural personalities, artistic figures, media representatives, acclaimed actors, renowned chefs and social media celebrities are participating at the global event.

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Beijing Circus Thrills Crowds At Sharjah International Book Fair

The ‘Brilliant Art Show’ circus from Beijing, China, performed a stunning mix of acrobatics, juggling and balancing at the 35th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), as just one of the hundreds of attractions this year’s event.

The family-run circus, who have toured all over the world, produced a series of acts which stopped the book fair crowds in their tracks at the Expo Centre Sharjah. During the half hour show in the main concourse of the venue, the Beijing-based performers treated the audience to an array of traditional circus acts which showed the crowd dexterity, coordination and strength.

Circus director, Yu Jian said: “We have been to many places in the Middle East, but it is wonderful to be in Sharjah. The feedback has been fantastic for us and the performers are delighted that the crowd have been so interactive. They have appreciated our acts, which is always our main goal as entertainers.

Many of the troupe began training when they were less than ten years old and have been performing since they were twelve. “There is an enormous amount of preparation and rehearsal that goes into an act,” Yu Jian continued. “Although sometimes the acrobats may only be on stage for 15 minutes, they have trained for fifteen years to make sure each performance is perfect.”

Although the show is aimed mainly at children, the audience was filled with spectators of all ages.

“When we start different routines have some fun with the crowds, they like to join in with the atmosphere. We produce highly skilled performances and it’s not just the kids who are impressed. The Sharjah International Book Fair is a wonderful event for us and we look forward to coming back to Sharjah in the very near future.”

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