Al Midfa: Sharjah Festivals and events contribute to increase tourist flow into Sharjah
Date Published: Saturday, March 7, 2015 Sharjah pavilion at the ITB Berlin travel trade show drew the attention of a number of dignitaries and visitors from various countries who expressed keen interest to know more about Sharjah’s reputation as a popular year-round destination for cultural festivals and family tourism events. On this occasion, His Excellency Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, and Khalid Al Midfa Director General received HE Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation, who discussed the different areas of Sharjah’s tourism sector, especially the role of culture as one of the key elements that have contributed to the success of tourism in the Emirate. They both also met with Dr Michel Frenzel Chairman of World Travel and Tourism Council. At the leading show, running in the German capital from March 4 to 8, 2015, Sharjah has been attracting large number of visitors from Germany and other European markets. The Emirate has positioned itself as a world class tourist destination for the entire family, capable of competing with the best locations in the world. Sharjah is renowned for a wide range of much acclaimed festivals and events, including the recently concluded Sharjah Light Festival as well as others such as the Sharjah Water Festival and Sharjah International Book Fair that draw families and visitors from around the region and beyond. “As one of the most prestigious travel and tourism events in the world, ITB Berlin is a major platform for Sharjah to show case the array of high profile leisure and fun activities Sharjah organises for families all through the year. Tourists from Europe form a major part of the visitors to Sharjah. We expect that Sharjah’s status as a global location for family events and festivals will lead to increased tourist flow from Europe, especially Germany, in the coming years,” said HE Al Midfa. Held in February every year, the Sharjah Light Festival (SLF) is the first of its kind event in the region. Using art and modern 3D lighting technology over Sharjah’s landmarks and historical buildings, international artists perform some of the most extraordinary shows during the festival to describe the story of the emirate’s cultural evolution, rich Emirati and Arab traditions and heritage. The Sharjah Water Festival is held in December every year alongside the UIM F1 H20 World Powerboat Championship, the Sharjah Grand Prix. The Sharjah Water Festival celebrates the Emirati heritage and love of sea and is a huge draw for families because of its fun events and carnival atmosphere. The Sharjah Grand Prix marks the grand finale of the World Powerboat Championship. The Sharjah International Book Fair is one of the largest events of its kind in the world, and attracts a wide range of international publishers, authors and book lovers. The Sharjah International Book Fair 2014 attracted more than a million visitors, 1200 publishers and exhibitors, celebrated authors and critics from around the world. Held in November every year, the Sharjah International Book Fair is a must-visit event in the region for all literary fans. Another well-known event is the internationally acclaimed Sharjah Biennial, which will be held from March 5 through June 5 this year. Organised by Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) every two years, Sharjah Biennial welcomes contemporary artists from around the Arab world as well as elsewhere. This major exhibition takes place in Sharjah’s historical arts and heritage areas, streets, courtyards and sites across the emirate, and attracts thousands of visitors from around the globe. Keeping with the Emirate’s status as a popular cultural tourist spot, Sharjah has been hosting Sharjah Heritage Days, a magnificent cultural event known for its lively and entertaining atmosphere. The event coincides with UNESCO'S celebrations of the Heritage International Day during the month of April every year. An expression of the identity of the Emirati people and their glorious history, Sharjah Heritage Days takes place in the Heart of Sharjah, a heritage location that contains architectural buildings, mosques and markets that bear witness to city’s development and evolution through time. Sharjah has become a major tourist destination for visitors from Europe, receiving more than 409,585 European guests in the first 6 months of 2014, registering a remarkable 17 per cent increase over the same period in 2013 when the emirate received 349,670 guests. Sharjah’s participation in ITB Berlin has contributed to increased tourist numbers from Germany as well. Last year nearly 25,000 hotel guests from Germany visited Sharjah, reflecting the Emirate’s growing popularity in Germany as a cultural tourism destination.