Emirate follows neighbouring Dubai and Abu Dhabi with 25-year construction project

Sharjah, one of the seven emirates of the UAE, has broken ground on a major project to regenerate its city centre in a bid to attract tourists. The Heart of Sharjah scheme by the  Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) will take 25 years to complete and is being touted as one of the largest heritage projects in the region”, although the developer declined to reveal its cost.

The first phase, which will take two years, will involve transforming one of the ruling family’s houses, Al Midfaa mansion, into a hotel. The project will also restore and partially demolish historic buildings and markets (“souks”). Two of these, Saqr Souq and Al Arsa Sou, will be connected through rebuilding a historic market called Al Shanasiah Souq which disappeared as a result of changes to buildings in the 1970s. The souks will get better air-conditioning, lighting and gates.

The project also encompasses preparations for the Sharjah Biennale in 2011, which will be hosted by the Sharjah Art Foundation.