Funded by Shurooq, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, Sir Bu Nair Island, 120km from Sharjah and 80km from Abu Dhabi, is a 13km-square island and a nesting haven for rare turtles.

It is one of two islands owned by the emirate, along with Abu Musa, and was declared a protected zone in 2000 by the ruler of Sharjah.

Marwan Al Sarkal, Shurooq’s CEO, said the plans for the Dh 500m ($137m) development project began two years ago. “We wanted to create a destination that will really make a difference to the Sharjah tourism sector,” he said.

Sir Bu Nair has for decades been used as a shelter for pearl divers. Only 2-3% of the island will be developed, on the cove at its tip. Hana Al Suwaidi, head of Sharjah’s Environment and Protected Areas Authority, said the team, along with the World Wildlife Fund, had found about 385 turtle nests and believes there are three rare breeds of turtle on the island – the hawksbill, loggerheads and green turtles.”The green turtle usually only nests in Oman,” she said, adding “And although we’ve not yet found any nests of the loggerhead, we have identified the turtles.”

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