By Andy Sambidge
Work progresses on Heart of Sharjah project; first phase slated to be complete in 2015
The first phase of a major 15-year tourism project in Sharjah which aims to revitalise the emirate's heritage is on track for completion in 2015, it was announced on Monday.
The Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah said work was well underway on The Heart of Sharjah scheme, which is being managed by The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, also known as Shurooq.
The Heart of Sharjah seeks to reflect what Sharjah was like over half a century ago. The project will restore and revamp the city's traditional areas to create a tourist and trade destination with contemporary artistic touches, yet retain the feel of the 1950s.
Scheduled for completion in 2025, the scheme will feature diverse commercial, cultural and residential projects, including a boutique hotel, restaurants, retail shops, art galleries, traditional and contemporary markets, archaeological sites, museums, play areas and commercial offices.
Abdulaziz Al Musallam, director of Heritage and Cultural Affairs, said: "The Heart of Sharjah represents one of the most significant and ambitious restoration and development projects that have ever been attempted in the UAE or the GCC.
"We are extremely pleased with the progress that is being made on this landmark project... The Heart of Sharjah is long-term project that has become a labour of love for all the parties involved, and seeing it steadily take shape fill us all with immense pride."
The Heart of Sharjah project has work ongoing at several sites. Currently. chipping is already underway at Al Hisn Fort and at the Al Midfa Houses the foundations have been checked and evaluated and tests to evaluate the feasibility of adding an upper floor have been conducted.
Repair work on the Al Midfa Tower is about to commence, while at Al Tawaweesh House the foundation work has been completed and design and layout studies are underway.
The project is one of the largest tourism and heritage projects in the region.
Shurooq CEO, Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, said: "Executing a project of this scope would be impossible if not for the cooperation of stakeholders across the full spectrum of conservation, heritage, and development."