Sharjah is building a new 4 million square foot (370,000 sqm.) exhibition and conference centre in Al Tai district, near the intersection of Emirates Road and Mleiha Road. Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) revealed recently that next year’s Sharjah International Book Fair will move to the new venue in order to expand its area from 25,000 square metres (269,098 sq. ft.) to 60,000 square metres (645,835 sq. ft.).
With the opening of Expo Centre Sharjah in 1977, Sharjah established the very first fairs and exhibitions centre in the United Arab Emirates. The expo centre moved to its new location on Al Taawun Street in the centre of Sharjah city in 2002. The centre now has six exhibition halls surrounding a central boulevard, with a combined gross exhibition area of 26,000 square metres (279,862 sq. ft.) indoors, plus a further 6,000 square metres (64,583 sq. ft.) of outdoor space.
Al Tai district is currently in redevelopment, with Sharjah Islamic Bank’s real estate arm, Asas Real Estate, developing some 14 million square feet of residential plots in the Al Tai Residential Neighborhood owned by United Investment. The area will also have one of the largest mosques in Sharjah, currently being built in an Ottoman-inspired architectural style.
The new Al Tai exhibiton centre’s strategic location is about 30-40 minutes’ from Sharjah’s city centre, 25-30 minutes’ drive from Sharjah International Airport and about 35-40 minutes’ drive from Dubai International Airport.
Meanwhile, Basma Group Sharjah is building a new 200 room 4-star hotel, Novotel Sharjah Expo, adjacent to Expo Centre Sharjah. The new Novotel will have a business centre and two meeting halls including a large meeting-cum-function hall of approximately 200 square metres.
The Gulf region’s meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market is estimated to be worth about US$1.3 billion (AED 4.8b) annually.