A number of existing buildings and facilities will be incorporated into Al Bait hotel development
The traditional hotel project ties in with the initiative to revive heritage in Sharjah, which was launched by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, that aims to protect and restore where possible the remaining historic fabric within the city and the Emirate at large. Of all the redevelopment programmes initiated to date, The Heart of Sharjah is the most important. Set for completion in December 2014/ January 2015, the AED 100 million Al Bait hotel project in Sharjah will spread over almost 10,000m2 and will comprise 54 guest rooms - including standard, deluxe, junior suites and suites - as well as a spa/health club, dining areas (a traditional Arabic tea and coffee house, a traditional Arabic restaurant, and all day diner, and a deli), staff facilities and utility blocks, in addition to Souq Al Arsa, one of the oldest and most important Souqs in the region, among many others. It was revealed that an agreement was signed between the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and General Hotel Management Ltd. (GHM) - a firm renowned for conceptualising, developing and operating an exclusive group of hotels and resorts around the globe - for the management of the hotel. The agreement was signed by HE Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Mr Hans R. Jenni, Director and President of GHM, in the presence of HE Sheikha Hour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the Sharjah Art Foundation, HE Sheikha Nawar Al Qasimi, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Shurooq CEO; and representatives from GHM bearing witness to the ceremony. Shurooq already has an established relationship with the exclusive management group, which dates back to 2011 when an agreement was reached for GHM to manage another Shurooq development in Khorfakkan, Sharjah, under the group's prestigious Chedi brand. Commenting on this exciting development, HE Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi said: "Investing in our heritage by refining what has been bestowed upon us, is one of the main reasons that Shurooq was established. We are pleased and excited to shine the spotlight on our history through this luxurious hotel. As the first of its kind in the Emirate and the region, Al Bait hotel in Sharjah is expected to be a unique tourism icon, and will undoubtedly draw the attention of tourists and residents alike." Sheikha Bodour added: "Sharjah offers residents and visitors to the UAE a very different experience to that of the other emirates. Our emphasis has always been about finding that delicate balance between our safeguarding our identity and embracing progress and development. Tourists who come to Sharjah have a multitude of cultural, heritage, art, and leisure options to choose from and, as the Emirate continues to evolve, the depth of possibilities are continuously multiplying. Within this scope, the Heart of Sharjah is being developed to act as the beating heart of the Emirate, a place that will bring visitors from every walk of life together and with its design that seamlessly blends the past and the present, Al Bait hotel will be a showpiece representing what Sharjah is truly about - an emirate that offers its visitors a unique opportunity to experience true Arabian hospitality and traditional heritage in luxury and comfort." Revealing the project's details, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said, " The project is implemented in line with the vision and directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and with the close follow up of HE Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), to preserve and restore the heritage and historical sites in the emirate, as well as to revive Sharjah's traditional character and national identity, and transform it into a premier tourist attraction in the emirate, UAE and the entire region." "Al Bait hotel will spread over an area of 10,000 square meters and includes a number of houses and buildings, five of which are heritage houses - including Bait Ibrahim Al Midfa, Bait Eissa Al Midfa, Bait Abdul Rahman Al Midfa, Bait Abdullah Al Mahmoud and Al Midfa Majlis, which will be renovated. In addition, a number of other houses that will be built in accordance with the standards and designs of traditional houses, but with contemporary touches that ensure quality, luxury and comfort to guests," Al Sarkal added. Shurooq CEO noted that the most important traditional houses in the area were chosen to build and shape Al Bait hotel, the first of its kind in the region, which will keep the names of its original owners and rooms so as to highlight the environment and lifestyle of the Emiratis who lived in these houses in the past. "Work will focus on the surrounding streets and courtyards that will consist primarily of hardscapes and street furniture, with area and wall lighting included. The courtyards will be revitalized and resurfaced as well. The design concept for Al Bait hotel is based on the integration of the hotel and its associated public and service facilities into the existing historical urban fabric, recreating where possible the urban character of the historical city present in the past time, he added. Al Sarkal emphasized that Shurooq is keen through Al Bait hotel to offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience true Emirati hospitality in an environment that reflects the true Emirati heritage, and which can compete with any five star hotel in terms of services, amenities and cuisine. "Our goal is to allow guests to experience the atmosphere of the past through elements that are in harmony with culture, society, history and civilization as well as the hospitality and etiquette of this generous country. We want tourists and guests to be familiarized with both our traditional and modern customs and culture; and to offer them a pure Emirati ambience that reflects the reality of life, and the history and traditions of the UAE and Emiratis. Shurooq's message is not a commercial one, but a cultural one that will enhance the position and value of the emirate. All of the major events that take place at the Heart of Sharjah such as, Sharjah Heritage Days and Sharjah Biennial reflect the vision of His Highness Ruler of Sharjah to develop this project, which will attract more tourists for its events and activities. " Designed by GAJ, one of the largest and longest established UK architectural and design practices in the UAE, Al Bait hotel in Sharjah is set to be a luxurious retreat where the traditional and contemporary meet; a true Emirati hotel that will provide guests with a unique and unrivalled experience of the best Sharjah has to offer. Souq Al Arsa will also form part of the proposed redevelopment in that it is the central spine around which the hotel will be wrapped. According to the designs it will form the primary circulation route through the scheme and will act as a pedestrian anchor to the area. This is important as it also forms an integral part of our overall site circulation. A number of existing buildings and facilities will also be incorporated into the Al Bait hotel development, including: Al Bait hotel in Sharjah is aimed at taking advantage of the richness of Sharjah's traditions and culture and to incorporate them directly into our selling proposition, not as an adjunct but rather holistically. Situated just five minutes from the city's corniche and 10 minutes from the Sharjah International Airport, The Heart of Sharjah project will, when completed in 2025, feature diverse commercial, cultural and residential projects, including restaurants, retail shops, art galleries, traditional and contemporary markets, archaeological sites, museums, play areas and commercial offices. With its location and core objectives in mind, it is also the perfect location for the exclusive Al Bait hotel.