How have you drawn international events to Fujairah, and how do you hope to build on that portfolio in the coming years?
HAMDAN KRAM AL KAABI One of the showcase events in our calendar is the Fujairah International Arts Festival. We have already held our first Fujairah International Arts Festival, and in 2018, we will hold our second one, building on the success of the first event. There will be a range of programs on show, incorporating existing and new ones. There will also be some heritage and national events. We are promoting the Arts Festival both through the media and by reaching out to guests who attended the first festival. The organization process includes local communities, the tourism sector, and even groups representing various nationalities. We have a variety of programs with the aim that the festival will be attractive to all nationalities and expect participation to grow as a result. The cultural sector is very important for any nation.
MAJOR AHMED EBRAHEIM ALBLOOSHI Marine tourism has become a very important area of tourism worldwide. People love to go cruising, fishing, diving, snorkeling, and sailing, and we see a trend in more countries, regions, and cities depending on marine and water tourism as a result. Fujairah International Marine Club was established in 1999, and we have had the highest-level powerboat competition, Class 1, here for six years in a row. We have held these races in Fujairah and Dibba, which has brought investors to the UAE and placed us on the map in terms of water sports. We had a great media footprint in many countries, with Class 1 being broadcast worldwide on all sorts of platforms. Since then, we have focused on different water sports, and more traditional sports like sailing and rowing. We want to instill a love for these traditional sports among our current and future generations.
Where do most of your tourists and visitors come from?
HKAK Around a million tourists visited Fujairah in 2016 with many coming from within the UAE and the GCC. Most tourists are looking for sightseeing and culturally rich holiday destinations. In Fujairah, we cooperate with the Tourism Authority, and we organize some cultural events together. The Fujairah Culture & Media Authority also has its own face-to-face programs that support tourism. We think differently and take a different approach here to the one in Sharjah or any of the other Emirates. This creates a good mixture that combines the different attractions and approaches to tourism and culture.
AEA Tourists mostly come from within the UAE, particularly for religious holidays like Eid or public holidays. That is our main target market, but many tourists also come from abroad, primarily Germany and Russia. We receive most of our visitors through Dubai Airport, and up to 90% of all visitors come via the new road, which has reduced the travel time between Dubai and Fujairah to under 50 minutes. We also have a lot more rooms in Fujairah, around 8,000 rooms in total, spread across eight hotels. Fujairah has beautiful geography as well as a long and interesting history, with many historic forts located here as well. These assets help drive the rapidly growing tourism industry in Fujairah. In terms of overall revenue, tourism accounts for about 30% annually, but we could do better. The UAE in general wants to boost revenues from tourism, and Fujairah is part of that push.
How are you working to promote the Arab and Emirati cultures?
HKAK We have already set up a program for use abroad and we will continue to develop this. One aspect of the program is the Fujairah Day. We have held this event in Paris, France in 2015 and in Aqaba, Jordan. For 2017, we are planning another Fujairah Day, possibly in Saudi Arabia, with a view to perhaps going to London for the 2018 event. We bring our local heritage and culture to the fore at these overseas events, and want this to be an exchange of culture and heritage with other nationalities that attend our events.
AEA The UAE is one of the world's leaders in the sport of power boating, so our new youth training center will help bring further talent into this sport. The power boating program is for children between ages eight to 15, and it is open to all nationalities. It does not just teach power boating but the importance of sportsmanship and discipline. We will also have waterskiing, jet skiing, rowing, and sailing programs coming up in the near future.