Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), talks about the importance of India market as well as Sharjah’s expanding tourism basket
Hw important is India as a source market for you? What was the Indian arrival numbers in 2022 and what is your expectation from 2023?
India continues to be an invaluable source market for the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA). We are thrilled to share that India was the largest source market for Sharjah in Q4 of 2022. A total of 41,932 Indian tourists travelled to the Emirate during that period, representing 10 percent market share, as compared to 41,334 visitors from the UAE. Our target for 2023 is to increase this percentage from 10 percent to 15 percent.
What promotional and marketing activities have you planned for India market to tap the new age travellers?
The new age travellers are always on a quest for newer and authentic experiences – be it related to culture, art, food, stay options, etc. and Sharjah has a vast portfolio of offerings to cater to these tourists.
Amongst the many unique stay options is our one-of-a-kind heritage resort, The Chedi Al Bait, a GHM hotel set in the city’s Heart of Sharjah district which is part of an Emirati conservation project. The Mysk Kingfisher Retreat is a luxury eco-resort offering guests luxury tents with its own private ocean-side pool. Then, for an ultimate glamping experience, we have the Mysk Moon Retreat.
Our newest offering, the Sharjah Safari is the largest safari outside of Arica and home to more than 120 species of animals, which live in Africa and up to 50,000 animals, ranging from birds, reptiles and mammals; such as lions, elephants, giraffes and rhinoceros.
Then, many visitors also choose to plan their visit to Sharjah for fun activities during local and international festivals. These events, dotted throughout the year on the emirate’s events calendar, feature everything from sports competitions to celebrations of UAE culture and Emirati tradition in the Heart of Sharjah, to immersive experiences in art galleries. Sharjah Light Festival, Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah International Book Fair are just some of the events that the Emirate is famous for!
All of our promotional and marketing activities – be it trade engagements, participation in prominent trade fairs, familiarisation trips, roadshows among others – are targeted at ensuring that potential visitors are fully informed of the many options available to them and are able to easily curate their visit to our emirate.
What new products are you launching in India?
We have some bespoke new projects in the pipeline that will have something new and unique to offer. Sharjah’s new adventure tourism project in the breathtaking eastern region of Khorfakkan shines new light on the emirate’s vast potential for adventure tourism. It is being developed on a picturesque site overlooking the serene Luluyah beach. Upon completion in Q4 of 2023, the development will be a haven for adrenaline seekers with its offerings of a zipline, a giant swing, a dry-slide track, hiking tracks, mountain bike tracks, and more.
How is the development on tourism and related infrastructure front?
There are many projects that are under development in the emirate, including the two hotels – the Al Bridi Resort and Al Jabal Resort, both operated by LUX*. The Al Bridi resort will be built within the environs of Sharjah Safari, allowing visitors unique access to a very experiential stay in the emirate. Set in the largest safari park outside of Africa, this new Lux* property will have 35 private tented retreats, each with endless views over the desert setting that is home to more than 50,000 animals.
On the east coast of Sharjah, the Lux* Al Jabal Resort in Khorfakkan will be a nature-surrounded resort set on a hillside overlooking a beach. This hotel has a substantial eco-conscious focus with 45 cube-shaped chalets constructed from special Finnish pine from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, a global initiative that promotes the responsible sourcing of wood. LUX* Al Jabal Resort and LUX* Al Bridi Resort are both expected to open later this year.
What sort of global best practices are you planning to adopt on sustainability and green fronts this year?
With the construction of Sharjah Sustainable City, the emirate of Sharjah is taking an environmental leap. Modelled on the success of the iconic development “The Sustainable City”, the project is designed to improve the quality of life for residents without compromising the needs of future generations. It is a joint venture between the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and Diamond Developers.
The 3, 4 and 5 bedroom villas meet the highest standards of social, environmental and economic sustainability and are nestled in an all-encompassing sustainable and environmentally thoughtful design, creating comfortable living conditions for the residents of today while creating inspiring opportunities to minimize the community’s carbon footprint.