Outstanding tourist destination to include five-star hotel, souk, retail stores, amphitheatre, museum, harbour and airport
Shurooq announced that the project will be developed at a cost of half a billion Emirati Dirhams by the year 2017 with the aim of boosting Sharjah's travel and leisure sector with further tourist attractions and forms part of Shurooq's strategy to develop eco-tourism projects around Sharjah. The development of the Sir Bu Nuair Island also comes in line with Shurooq's commitment to sustainable development, and developing various sectors in the Emirate, specifically the tourism sector. The tourism project, uniquely located in the heart of Arabian Gulf and enjoys natural and environmental significance, will include a luxury five-star hotel & resort, hotel apartments and villas, a camping village for those who love camping, retail shops, a souk, dedicated family areas, an amphitheatre, a museum, a mosque, an education centre, a harbour and an airport. HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said, "Sharjah is witnessing impressive growth in its tourism sector, whether in terms of its numerous new tourism projects or the increasing number of visitors. Shurooq seeks to continuously boost and support this growth through the development of exceptional facilities and high quality services, so as to highlight Sharjah as a unique tourist destination for tourism investments in the region and the Middle East." He went on to add that the development of Sir Bu Nuair is in line with Shurooq's strategy to create a large variety of truly unique destinations within Sharjah that will further differentiate the Emirate as a premier leisure destination in the UAE and the region. In a presentation delivered during the press conference, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), shared the details of the project, saying, "Sir Bu Nuair Island is predominantly uninhabited. It is located 65km off the UAE coastline on the Arabian Gulf, and covers an area of about 13 km2. Travelling to the island takes 2-3 hours by sea, 25 minutes by airplane from Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi, and 40 minutes from Sharjah. It has been a natural habitat for turtles for over 2000 years and boasts a vibrant marine ecosystem. The island is protected due to its significant environmental features, including geological formations, natural flora and marine birds, and is characterised by its unspoilt natural scenery. Our aim is to develop Sir Bu Nuair into a unique island destination; one that offers a mix of high-end luxury and comfort, one that fosters a genuine sense of community, and one that captures the region's vibrancy and cultural heritage in its architecture and offerings." Shurooq CEO outlined the key components of the development namely, the redevelopment of the island in terms of environmental aspects; the building of new commercial and entertainment features to complement the area; the beautification of the island in terms of landscaping; and the enhancement of tourism by offering a true experience and understanding of the island's cultural treasures through various events and activities. In terms of the architecture, specifically, Al Sarkal said: "Sir Bu Nuair seeks to recreate the vibrant social, commercial and community fabric found in small port towns around the world, in a manner that is aligned with our traditions and the values of the region. Our vision is that the architecture will reflect Emirati contemporary design that reflects the style, composition, and nuances of a traditional Arabic village, comprising of low-rise buildings that look and feel like a natural part of the island environment." A favourite diving and snorkelling destination due to the bio-diversity and its coral reef, Sir Bu Nuair Island also offers a number of other attractions. It is home to an annual environmental and sporting competition where fishermen, divers and seamen take part in a three-day treasure hunt and various sporting, cultural, heritage and environmental activities. It is also the starting point of the penultimate leg of the Al Gaffal Dhow Race, where one hundred 60ft dhows (traditional sailing boats) compete in a race from Sir Bu Nuair to Dubai. "With the island's delicate ecosystem in mind, and continuing our steadfast commitment to sustainable development, Shurooq is programming environmental and conservation education into our developments. We are taking a proactive role to protect our natural assets, and we are carefully planning to minimise our impact and ensure sustainability," Al Sarkal said. "Sir Bu Nuair Island is beautiful, healthy, rich and extensive in ecological diversity as well as heritage. We are extremely excited about this project and, as always, will be focused on delivering quality that will exceed both client and visitor expectations while maintaining environmental sustainability," he added. Highlighting the historical significance of Sir Bu Nuair Island, Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairman of Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), said in a speech during the press conference, "Sir Bu Nuair is one of the most important environmentally protected areas in Sharjah. The Emirate of Sharjah has continually established establish various natural reserves during the past years, in its effort to safeguard the Emirate's biodiversity and natural environment, which tops the list of priorities and interests of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah." She added that the island, also known as "Sir Al Qawasim", is characterised by its natural scenery and beautiful beaches, have yielded archaeological finds of pottery items dating back to approximately 3,500 BC were found, with other recovered items dating back to 1,500 BC. The Island is also an important refuge for marine birds, which visit the Island in most seasons of the year. It is also home to sea turtles, such as the Hawksbill turtle and the green turtle. The discovery of green turtles nests on the island was in fact unprecedented as has been commonly held that green turtles do not live or nest in the Arabian Gulf This year has seen the existence of 385 turtle nests recorded on the Island coast. Al Suwaidi clarified that Sir Bu Nuair Island still maintains its originality, and reserves it's cultural and heritage characteristics, as well as its social and cultural prestige. The island enjoys official protection and care by its designation as a protected area as per Decree No.25 of 2000, which was issued by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Sir Bu Nuair was been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012 on the UNESCO's preliminary list. Al Suwaidi noted that the Island is home to a number of rare fish species that do not live in the waters of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Gulf of Oman. The island also is home to a range of different species of marine plants, as well as numerous seaweed species. Sir Bu Nuair also home to a number of important species of endangered animals and plants and is a refuge for certain wild birds such as the Alasard, the Alwaraqa, and the Alqoba, as well as by birds of prey such as the Peregrine Falcon. In addition, marine surveys and studies have identified a total of 20 species of coral in the waters surrounding the island. The island is also home to rare species of fish and coral with a total 58 species of reef fish recorded during the surveys conducted in the northern and western reef areas in the island. The Fish Gobiodon citrinus, which is a species absent from and uncommon in the Gulf and Gulf of Oman, was found in the coral reefs of Sir Bu Nuair. The Island is also refuge to many marine algae and seaweed species, as well as to a number of endangered animals and plants. The Arabian Travel Market is the premier B2B travel exhibition in the Middle East. The show provides an established international platform allowing exhibitors to reach high value customers, build their brands, and access excellent networking opportunities. Shurooq was established in 2009 with the aim of achieving social, cultural, environmental and economic development on the basis of Sharjah's distinct Arab and Islamic identity, and to encourage investment by adopting the best international standards in providing quality services that help attract investors from the region and the world. Shurooq's key mission is to provide facilities and incentives to help overcome obstacles facing investment activities in the Emirate, evaluate tourism-related infrastructure projects, and lay down the necessary plans to complete such projects.