Stock - Ajman Tourism
The Indian hospitality brand Oberoi gets to have a second resort at Al Zorah. There are a further three new hotel concepts that Ajman is pursuing, says Khadija Turki. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Attract private sector investments, build more hotels and have tourists seek out the more laidback aspects of what these destinations can offer – this has been the script UAE’s northern emirates have been following. And achieve all of these aims with the least impact on the cherished environment.

Ajman’s been busy taking this investment trail, having just confirmed a second resort by the Indian hospitality company Oberoi. There are more in the works, as the emirate works simultaneously on elevating its infrastructure and its tourism capacities.

Ajman Tourism
A central feature of the northern emirate's investment and tourism priority is to make full use of the heritage attractions.

Khadija Turki is the acting Director-General of the Ajman Department of Tourism Development. In that role, she gets to have a front-row seat as the development action unfolds – but all of with an eye on creating a perfect union of the past, the present and future.

Ajman has so far focused on existing hospitality and destination projects rather than building new. Will that change?

It is changing dramatically, we are exploring a range of potential future projects. For example, there is zoya first, the Oberoi hotel expansion, and we have three new hotel concepts in discussion with investors.

This year, one of the focus areas could be the potential for investment opportunities in Masfout, with its fascinating scenery of mountains and its cultural atmosphere presented through the Masfout museum. In addition, there are talks with investors - public and private - who are happy to invest in tourism projects in Ajman. These will definitely be important factors to the destination’s tourism potential.

Another new addition is the Heritage Path project, which is located in the Al Nakhil neighborhood and links heritage buildings starting from the Ajman Museum and the heritage district to the Souq Saleh market and the areas surrounding it. This project extends towards the waterfront and will be a pedestrian-only path to promote sustainable tourism.

Will you be designating more land for high-end resorts or hotels? Will this mean that the Ajman Tourism authority’s mandate will be widened?

There will always be a need to increase the number of hotels and hotel rooms in Ajman. The emirate definitely has the potential to increase the number of hotels and we need to study - carefully - the best investment options with our strategic partners and encourage investors to potentially invest in Ajman.

Ajman’s natural resources - the beaches, mountains, natural reserves, wetlands, and lakes - have specific qualities, in addition to the developed retreats and facilities. All this creates a healthy and profitable atmosphere for investors to invest in Ajman.

Within the emirate, which are the locations identified as being ideal for hotel or mixed-use development? Will you be targeting private investors to get these projects launched?

Private investors are always an integral part of Ajman’s economy and its futuristic vision.

The plots are available - but we always aim to study the diversification of the potential projects to fulfill all our visitors’ requirements, and expectations. A great example of mixed-use destinations is Masfout Castle & Museum as it combines a rich historical background with some fascinating hiking routs.

Al Zorah
Al Zorah has emerged as a high on visibility mixed-use destination. (Image for illustrative purpose only.)

Another example of mixed-use development is Al Zorah, which combines a mix of lifestyles with residential and commercial offerings. There is an 18-hole golf course set within a natural preserved environment of sandy areas and mangroves, and Al Zorah occupies 5.4 million square meters of lush beachfront.

Will Ajman Tourism board also be launching investments to develop related infrastructure such as outdoor activities, adventure tourism?

Ajman is fortunate to have attractions that offer a diversified portfolio of activities, whether it is heritage and culture focused like the Heritage District surrounding Ajman Museum and Al Manama Museum, with a side gig of natural and outdoors tourism focused like Masfout Castle and its’ fascinating hiking routs and mountain biking routs.