Umm Al Quwain is now part of a well worn tourism trend that sees the development of satellite destinations around a hotspot.
While the emirate will never be another Dubai, it is seeing enough tourism action to make sure it finds its place in the sun, making it more than just the place to go skydiving when visiting the UAE.
In total, foreign investment in Umm Al Quwain hit the Dh100-billion ($27.2 billion) mark in 2007 alone, according to news reports quoting the Dr Abdullah Al Mosfer, director of the emirate's economic department.
Among the key projects are a planned Dh30 billion Al Salam City project will occupy an area of 721 million sq ft. Being constructed over a 15 year period, it will include homes for 500,000 residents, parks, entertainment centres and a shopping mall.
The Emirates Sunland Group has begun work on its Dh8 billion White Bay project in Umm Al Quwain, a master planned, resort style community with two man made islands, several hotels, a 190 berth marina, a canal and a health centre.
Emaar Properties, meanwhile, has said in media reports that it is on schedule with the developments in its Umm Al Quwain Marina development, estimated at Dh12 billion. The project involves the construction of 6,000 villas, 2,000 townhouses and around 1,200 resort and hotel rooms, while the central 450 metre diameter marina basin will provide berths for more than 600 yachts.
Several other new projects include a Dh60 million cultural centre and a Dh8 million beach park.
Among the hotel majors who are looking to develop hotels in the area is Kempinski (the group’s regional director for the Gulf, Michael Henssler calls it the UAE’s own mini Maldives), Premier Inn.
Meanwhile, the emirate’s government has announced the drafting of an international classification of hotels and hotel apartments, according to media reports. The hotels will be split into five groups depending on structure, services and amenities, while hotel apartments will be divided into normal and deluxe categories.
By Clark Kelly