Keeping up with the Joneses
Dubai’s conservative cousin is buzzing with business it seems. Is the playing field level now for the two?
March 20, 2011 3:50 by Precious de Leon
If you’re in tourism, trade or services, you are in for a treat as these sectors are leading Dubai’s comeback, so says an Emirates 24/7 article that reports growth in Dubai to register at 3-5 per cent.
While an optimistic sense of Dubai’s investment climate, scheduled hotel launches and a strengthening banking system are attributed to this estimated growth, there doesn’t seem to be any figures (from what Kipp can see) that would prove this to be a tangible direction.
Dubai’s more conservative neighbour, on the other hand, has been making sure everyone knows their numbers.
Recent reports from Zawya, for example, show about 200,000 Russians alone have visited Sharjah, the emirate known for its epic traffic conditions, its strict views on alcohol, sheesha, gender relationships and mannequin displays.
The emirate attracted 1.55 million visitors last year, nearly half of them from Europe, according to Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority. Overall, it registered an eight per cent growth in international tourist flow.
It also reported that hotel occupancy grew to 73 per cent last year, compared to 69 per cent in 2009, whereas hotel apartments recorded 70 per cent occupancy compared to 64 per cent in 2009.
In addition, on the borders of the conservative emirate is Al Qasba, an entertainment and retail development, initially known for the Eye of the Emirates ferris wheel. The property has been expanding its scope through a calendar of annual events such as World Cup-themed festivities and the Food Festival. More recently, it has also ramped up efforts to attract international artists through its Maraya Art Centre.
Beyond retailtainment, Sharjah has been planning an overhaul of some of its heritage sites under its Investment and Development Authority (Shorouq). This includes the Heart of Sharjah development, which is aimed at restoring historic building sites to reinforce the emirate’s cultural image.
Although, there have been some whispers last year of budget issues in the emirate—with some speculating links between budget deficit and the spate of Sharjah electricity cuts last year (The Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority did send out statement apologising for the cuts, adding they were due to problems in the natural gas line feed.).
Slowly but surely, however, Sharjah seems to be on the rise.
So let Kipp rephrase our lead sentence: If you’re in tourism, trade or services, you may be best served to give some thought to discovering opportunities for growth in Sharjah.