UAE's Sharjah woos Chinese tourists

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Sharjah, the third largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), hopes to draw more Chinese tourists, said a Sharjah government official Thursday in Beijing.

"It will surely be a fantastic journey for tourists to enjoy the sea view, desert and mountains ... while commuting between two beaches at both sides of the emirate," said Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.

He made the comments while promoting Sharjah tourism at the ongoing China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market in Beijing.

In 1998, Sharjah was named the "Cultural Capital of the Arab world" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The emirate, with a population of only one million, has about 1,000 mosques and more than 20 museums. It is also renowned for various cultural and sports events.

Mohamed Ali Al Noman founded the Sharjah Light Festival, an annual nine-day show in early February featuring "light-painting" on the front of buildings and other light and sound spectacles.

"The light of the experience will forever illuminate your imagination. It is a kind of link with the past and today," he said, adding that it showcases Sharjah's inspiring architecture and rich heritage.

The festival is staged using the latest energy-efficient lighting to promote awareness of energy conservation and energy-saving technology, according to the authority.

"I have noticed that more Chinese people, especially the middle-class, travel overseas. They prefer nice views, enjoy the culture and like shopping," he said, adding that these can all be found in Sharjah.

The Sharjah government authority is planning to set up offices in major Chinese cities to promote tourism in the booming Chinese market.

In 2013, about 20,000 Chinese tourists travelled to the emirate, arriving first in neighboring Dubai. The figure represented a 10 percent year-on-year increase for the emirate.

"Sharjah is a good choice with nice weather, diversified natural views, cozy shopping and Islamic culture," said Mohamed Ali Al Noman. Endi

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