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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 26/08/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) High rise buildings around Al Hisn Fort and Bank Street will be demolished accordingly in phases and buildings showcasing Sharjahs architecture will rise in their stead.From just rubble and historical footprints of the 1800s Heart of Sharjah a four-phase 15-year historical restoration project will recreate the traditional heritage areas of Sharjah making it a tourist and trade hub. A future model of Heart of Sharjah 2025 at Discovery Centre. - KT photo by M. Sajjad

High rise buildings around Al Hisn Fort and Bank Street will be demolished accordingly in phases and buildings showcasing Sharjah’s architecture will rise in their stead. The project is scheduled for completion in 2025.

As Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) puts it the Heart of Sharjah will build and retrofit old houses to what they looked like half a century ago and link the past present and future through what was developed what is being developed and what will work 50 years from now.

Situated just minutes away from the Buheirah Corniche and 10 minutes from the Sharjah International Airport the Heart of Sharjah will revive and link the historical Souq Al Shinasiyah and Sharjah’s heritage areas. “We have documented everything. Souk Al Shinasiyah will be rebuilt on Bank Street based on the foundations detected through the survey conducted using ground penetrating radar led by Japanese professors Hanai Sasaki and Emeritus Tatsuo. Excavation and exploration works are also underway with the support of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The survey and excavation works cover an area of 2500sqm and is coordinated by the Sharjah Ruler’s Court in collaboration with Shurooq and with technical support from the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information’s Directorate of Heritage and Directorate of Antiquities.” Currently working on phase 1 of the project Shurooq is now ready to demolish three buildings which have been made available by their owners and is making sure the owners get the best in retailer’s investment. “We may or may not demolish the buildings but most have been existing for 40 to 45 years.”

Al Sarkal says Shurooq has created a committee of owners who have been given other lands and financial rewards to make sure investors receive the best. “The Heart of Sharjah will be a destination with contemporary artistic touches but retains the feel of the 1950s and reflects what Sharjah was like over half a century ago. Basically how it used to look some are retrofitted and some are to be replaced to make it look like the past merging with the present.”

A sprawling 35000sqm of lands the Heart of Sharjah 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.

Al Sarkal says that Shurooq is targeting visitors of Sharjah to stay for four hours in the historical Souk Al Shinasiyah as it links Souk Al Arsa in the Al Marijah area and Souk Saqr in Al Shuwaiheen area. “The Heart of Sharjah will bring more tourists to the emirate. We would like our visitors to stay at least for three to five days in the 54-bedroom Dh100-million Al Bait Hotel the three historical houses retrofitted and four other buildings use the fitness centre and visit restaurants and 17 museums.

“We have created more parking and walking areas and added cafes and kiosks at the corniche as well. We try to create projects and implement Islamic designs. We have 18 new shops where young Emirati entrepreneurs can do business in traditional and historical things” Al Sarkal added.

He says that the Heart of Sharjah will not rewrite history but will go back in time. “By the third phase high rise buildings in most of Bank Street up to Al Hisn Fort will be cleared. Al Bait Hotel will come next. We are trying not to be very controlled by plans. We make flexible plans. Once Al Bait Hotel opens we will promote the 18 new shops at Souk Shinasiya.”

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