Sharjah turns to history to forge future tourism success

The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) will revive the original identity of traditional heritage areas of Sharjah under the Heart of Sharjah initiative.

Under the patronage of Sharjah ruler Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the ambitious plan is part of the emirate’s mission to include eight of its cultural heritage sites on the prestigious list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Shurooq said historical buildings have been restored, new structures have been constructed following traditional architecture, while some buildings will be demolished based on urban modernisation guidelines, then restored to their original form.

The decision to demolish certain buildings stems from the plan to reel the city together as per historical blueprints. By emptying certain plots, the barrier between the old city (fort) and the sea opens up which gives residents and visitors the opportunity to view the landscape from the old city, Shurooq added.

“Every aspect of the design and implementation has been carefully thought out and planned to ensure social and environmental sustainability,” it said.

Khalid Deemas, general manager of Heart of Sharjah, said: “Heritage sites are the physical component of a city’s identity. The Heart of Sharjah is of great historical importance as it reflects Sharjah’s originality.

“The lived-in architecture, the strategic locations, and the uses of these buildings reveal unique stories telling of how our city came to be and can offer predictions of where it might be going. These features add character and beauty to our city, fostering a sense of home and community, and serves as a reminder that our city’s history belongs to all of us together.”

He added: “The Heart of Sharjah is a multidimensional destination that offers the history of Sharjah as a vital economic centre. It’s no secret that physical heritage attracts tourism and potentially stimulates economic growth and prosperity. The four markets, existing shops and services will propel contributions to revitalise the commercial and economic movement at the level of land and sea.”

Heart of Sharjah includes heritage projects such as Sharjah Al Hisn Museum, Bait Al Naboodah Museum, Al Eslah School Museum, Sharjah Heritage Museum, Emirates Handcraft Centre, and Traditional Games House as well as four souqs – Al Arsah, Al Shanasiyah, Saqr, and the old souq.

Sharjah Art Museum, Emirates Fine Arts Society, Sharjah Institute of Arts, Bait Al Serkal, Bait Al Shamsi, Sharjah Art Foundation Art Space, Sharjah Calligraphy Museum, SCAACO, Ceramics House, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts, Sharjah National Theatre, and Theatrical Association are also included in the project.

This edited article first appeared in Arabian Business

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