By Sam Bridge
Sharjah to host a new edition of the international Fringe festival - the world's largest art and entertainment event
A new edition of the international Fringe festival – the world’s largest art and entertainment event born in Edinburgh – has been born in Sharjah.
Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has announced that it will be hosting the first Fringe Festival in the Middle East – Sharjah Fringe Festival - for 17 days from January 16 to February 1, 2020.
The streets and stages of Sharjah will be the backdrop for 600 shows featuring a pandemonium of performers, colours and creativity at key destinations in the emirate – Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba and Al Noor Island.
These Shurooq destinations will host over 50 artists from the UAE, the region and the world, who will present street and circus acts, theatre, dance, music and other forms of interactive entertainment, to delight UAE audiences from all nationalities and age groups.
Sharjah Fringe Festival 2020 is presented by Shurooq in partnership with Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA). It will be organised by the National Arts Festival, South Africa, who also produce a thriving South African Fringe, in collaboration with Dubai-based events company Dolphin Creative.
Ahmed Al Qaseer, COO of Shurooq, said: “By bringing Fringe to Sharjah, we want to send a message that ours is ‘a city of choice’. Through Fringe, we want the 200-plus nationalities residing in the UAE to connect with the global language of arts. At the same time, we build bridges with other cultures.”
Majid Hamad Al Suwaidi, manager of overseas promotion department at SCTDA, said: “The Fringe Festival is a big driver of the tourism economy, and by bringing this amazing event presented by Shurooq to Sharjah, SCTDA seeks to boost the emirate’s tourism offerings by allowing visitors and tourists hundreds of entertainment choices.”
Nobesuthu Rayi, executive producer of Sharjah Fringe, said the festival will feature 35 productions, including top international Fringe favourites like The Amazing Bubble Man from the US, Stick Stones Broken Bones from South Africa, the Tom Thum beat box act from Australia and the I Hate Children’s Show, as well as 30 street productions happening outdoor.
“This will be happening over a period of 17 days, and will be 1,100 hours of pure entertainment”, she said, adding, “You will be treated to high level artistry coming in from around the world for free.”
The Edinburgh edition remains the largest, featuring an average 3,000 shows with over 3 million tickets for the 2019 edition. Only the Olympic Games World Cup boast bigger numbers.