Sharjah unveils four hospitality tech projects


The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) unveiled four innovative tech projects last month at Gitex, a major technology show in Dubai. These were a tour guide chatbot powered by artificial intelligence, a smart hotel licensing and classification system, a smart vehicle permit for desert tour or safari vehicles and an intelligence gathering statistics system for hotels.

“These latest projects reflect our commitment to introducing technology-driven ideas that will promote Sharjah as a world-class tourist destination with a wide range of leisure, cultural, and entertainment activities,” Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, chairman, SCTDA, said. “We are confident that these initiatives will help accelerate the fulfilment of the main goal of Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021, which is to attract 10 million tourists to our shores. The projects launched at Gitex are also aligned with our unwavering support to the UAE’s efforts to promote innovation and creativity on all fronts.”

The ‘AI Tour Guide Chatbot,’ a 24/7 voice-and text-based chatbot, developed to provide the latest information about Sharjah to tourists was unveiled. The interactive tour guide chatbot, which is accessible via WhatsApp, a mobile app, SCTDA’s website, and Facebook messenger, shares accurate details about the emirate’s top tourist destinations, must-do activities, world-class accommodations, leading restaurants, and much more.

“Continuous innovation is one of the authority's strategies and we target that by end of 2019, we can provide innovative digital channels and tools that serve all individuals and institutions”
– Khalid Jasim Al Midfa


The project is the result of SCTDA’s initiative to incorporate the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), into its tourism programs to better highlight Sharjah’s renowned beauty and hospitality while enhancing visitor experience. The ‘AI Tour Guide Chatbot’ supports five languages: Arabic, English, German, Chinese, and Russian, and can recognise various Arabic accents.

Also launching is the ‘Smart Hotel Licensing and Classification’ system. This project fully automates the business processes of the Tourism Standard Department. It covers various service modules such as the ‘Hotel Establishment Registration and Online Application’ of all licensing-related services; inspection; violation management; hotel establishment classification management for classification and grading system; and assessment management allowing SCTDA to supervise all assessment information. 

The system also has a ‘Partner Interface,’ which provides an interface to the hotel establishment to review information relating to their establishments. It also enables them to initiate and track their applications with SCTDA, therefore providing a one-stop shop for all possible functions. It automates all the transactions of the specified services and supports workflows. External customers can register, customise an account and start using the services upon approval of their applications.

The third project is called the ‘Smart Vehicle Permit System,’ which aims to reduce time spent in managing vehicle permit applications as well as other transactions for desert tour or safari vehicles. The multi-purpose online system aides in the faster issuance of permits and vehicle stickers. It issues electronic permits and vehicle stickers with countermeasures to thwart duplication and forgeries. The system is also equipped with smart workflows that identify the process and automatically assign the application to the responsible individual in the chain for action. It also automates fines and fees computation along with the integration of payment using credit cards and Tahseel Management dashboard, with access to various reports and analytics.

Fourthly, the ‘Hotel Statistics System- Business Intelligence (HSS – BI) solution, which collates on-the-spot guest data and statistics on multiple variables such as nationality, length of stay, and revenue, occupancy rates among others. It also enables the user to interact smartly using the interactive tools in the dashboard to make and customise reports, aiding decision makers in making necessary judgments.

“Over the years, we have witnessed how technology has transformed the hospitality and tourism landscape. It has helped reduce costs, enhance operational efficiency and improve services and customer experience. We want to emphasise this role even further. Continuous innovation is one of the authority's strategies and we target that by end of 2019, we can provide innovative digital channels and tools that serve all individuals and institutions. We also want to emphasize the importance of keeping pace with the global changes taking place within the sector where there is an ongoing shift towards a future that works on smart platforms and services that can be accomplished in no time and with the push of a button,” the chairman added.