Bringing spotlight on the US$137 billion global Islamic tourism market, Expo Centre Sharjah , for the first time, is set to host the inaugural World Islamic Tourism Summit & Exhibition incorporating the 2nd OIC Tourism Fair in 2015.
An MoU to bring the two events together at Expo Centre was signed last week by Mr Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, ECS , and Dr El Hassane Hzaine, Director-General, the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT), in Casablanca, Morocco.
ICDT is the subsidiary organ of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which is entrusted with trade promotion and investment among the OIC Member States.
“This is a double honor for Sharjah and Expo Centre . Being chosen as the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015 at the Arab Tourism Ministers’ Summit in itself is an achievement and adds to the list of awards and accolades Sharjah has received in the recent past. Now, the decision to organise the summit and the fair will literally be a feather in the cap for Sharjah and ECS . This also reiterates the coordination and cooperation between ECS and OIC, which has resulted in Expo Centre hosting several OIC events and playing host to several OIC delegations & dignitaries,” said Mr Midfa.
In 1998, Sharjah was recognised as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO, and the Emirate is currently celebrating its selection as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014 by OIC.
“Given the rich and diverse natural, geographical, historical and cultural heritage assets, the OIC countries have massive potential for the development of the tourism sector. However, the OIC Member States have only a modest share of world tourism market, highlighting the fact that a large part of the tourism potential of many OIC countries remains unutilized,” said Mr Midfa.
“The World Islamic Tourism Summit & Exhibition partnered with the OIC Tourism Fair aims to change this by strengthening cooperation and partnership between the OIC member states in the field of tourism, and encourage investment and partnership in the sector,” added Mr Midfa.
The event will also help in the development of Shariah-compliant hotels and resorts, entertainment & sport facilities, swimming & spa facilities dedicated to families, and promote Islamic cultural sites, Halal food & beverages, among others.
Besides, the fair is open to all countries and organisations wishing to enhance cooperation with OIC Member States and promote their tourism in the Islamic World.
The Summit and the Fair will also augment the preparations under way in Sharjah to mark the Capital of Arab Tourism honor. According to reports, a special committee has been set up to coordinate with tourism industry partners in the Emirate, while the hotel and leisure industry is also gearing up for the festivities and tourist delegations.
Expo Centre Sharjah also hosts the annual OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition and Congress, which is now into its third edition and will be held from December 8-10 this year. ECS had hosted the 13th Trade Fair of OIC Member Countries in 2011.