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Date Published: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 AL MIDFA: 71 CALLS BY INTERNATIONAL CRUISE SHIPS CARRYING 157,000 PASSENGERS TO VISIT SHARJAH IN UPCOMING CRUISE SEASONS With the arrival of two new cruise ships, MV Mein Schiff 2 and Aida Aura in Khorfakkan on 15 and 16 November, Sharjah welcomes the start of a busy cruise tourism season this week. MV Mein Schiff 2 and Aida Aura arrived in Khorfakkan on Saturday and Sunday (November 15 and 16) respectively with a total number of 3,400 passengers on board. Welcoming the new cruise ships from Europe, HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Director General, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority said that Sharjah is looking forward to a strong cruise tourism season with thousands of international tourists in the months ahead, 2015 is going to be an important year for us on many levels particularly when the Emirate is getting ready to be crowned as the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015. MV Mein Schiff 2 and Aida Aura are operated by German cruise companies (TUI Cruises and Aida Cruises) and are known for their luxury and comfort. On their maiden visit to Khorfakkan, the two cruise ships and their mostly German passengers and crew were warmly welcomed by the SCTDA, Khorfakkan port officials and local tourism industry players with traditional Ayala band playing on the quay. The passengers were treated to traditional Emirati hospitality at a local house in Khorfakkan and given insight into Sharjah’s history, Emirati heritage and culture at the Heritage Village. Sharjah is looking forward to further growth of the cruise industry over the next couple of years. More than 71 calls by 17 major international cruise liners are expected at Khorfakkan Port during the upcoming two cruise seasons, carrying more than 157,000 international cruise passengers. Referring to the growing interest of the international cruise tourism industry in Sharjah and the East Coast, Al Midfa said that the surge in international arrivals and cruise ships offers tremendous opportunities and avenues of growth to tourism and hospitality sector stakeholders in the Emirate. Al Midfa said that SCTDA is committed to developing the tourism infrastructure and services in the emirate, especially on its East Coast which is known for its natural beauty, long coastline, golden beaches and picturesque mountains. “We are seeing more and more international investors and hospitality chains showing interest in the East Coast and as a result a number of new tourism and hospitality projects have begun taking shape,” he said. The SCTDA Director General said Khorfakkan, the only natural harbor and strategic deep sea port in the region, is ideally located and well connected with international shipping routes.