In conversation with HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, executive chairman, Shurooq, about their nature-inspired property— Al Badayer Oasis in Sharjah

Can you brief us about the Al Badayer Oasis property?
Al Badayer Oasis by ‘Mysk by Shaza’ is a luxurious, eco-friendly boutique retreat located in the heart of central Sharjah’s Al Badayer desert. A picturesque desert resort, it is the third gem in Shurooq’s ‘Sharjah Collection’ and offers a fully integrated hospitality experience in the heart of a tranquil desert. With 21 rooms and 10 tents, this intimate campsite delivers the ‘Arabian castle’ feel. Guest facilities include two restaurants – a pan-Asian restaurant and an international allday dining restaurant. A fully equipped health club and a luxurious indoor pool. The property comes with a host of adrenalinepumping activities or adventure seekers. Ultimate desert experiences can be had with dune bashing, 4 X 4 trips, quad biking, horse riding, desert safaris, and camel tours. For nature lovers, the retreat can organise tours to explore the UAE’s local wildlife, falconry displays, and indulgent nights of spectacular stargazing.

HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal

What inspired the creation of this property?
The soul of Al Badayer Oasis rests in the In conversation with HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, executive chairman, Shurooq, about their nature-inspired property— Al Badayer Oasis in Sharjah AN OASIS OF LUXURY IN THE DESERT culture, traditions and natural environs that set Sharjah apart. Its location in an enchanting desert locale is reminiscent of the way our ancestors set out to build their earliest settlements and began what we today call ‘the Emirati way of life’. Designed like a real oasis, this natural desert retreat draws on our Emirati heritage and sets the mood for a different kind of relaxation for guests. The inspiration for this property was prompted by Shurooq’s vision to contribute in thriving UAE’s ecotourism industry. We wanted to bring to life meaningful connections between our guests and their natural surroundings in a way that satisfies even the most discerning traveller.

What are the main takeaways in terms of design, quality of service, and cuisine from a customer experience point of view?
The resort’s architecture is the quintessential representation of a calming, luxurious, Arabian oasis set amidst uninterrupted views an expansive desert. Naturally, therefore, vernacular elements in terms of desert-inspired design, materials, texture, and colour have played a big role in its construction. Known for its dramatic “desertscape” and the Big Red Dunes, Al Badayer is the ideal spot for adventure, wellness and a classic taste of Emirati culture. Guests can expect every modern comfort in our upscale deluxe-king and deluxetwin rooms or the more traditionally styled one-bedroom king and two-bedroom twin tent accommodations. Quality of service by the retreat’s operators, Mysk by Shaza, meets the highest international standards. Dining is a spoilt-for-choice affair at Al Badayer Oasis. With a touch of local charm, the contemporary styled Al Madam lays out an extensive spread in international and regional fare while the speciality restaurant, Nizwa, seeks out the cuisines of the destinations on the Silk Road to satisfy the guest’s palate.

What are the design highlights of this property?
Its very location in the heart of the sprawling Emirati desert, and resemblance to ancient caravanserais which once served as the breeding grounds of cross-cultural interaction, sets the colour palette and architectural design tone for Al Badayer Oasis. There is a harmonious interaction between the structural and ambient aspects of the area as authentic elements symbolising traditional Emirati homes come to the fore with spacious, internal courtyards. The central plaza leads to an amphitheatre and an Emirati traditional watchtower, where events and activities take place during the day and in the evenings. Nestling perfectly within their spectacular natural settings are glam camping tents for guests who like to experience the traditional Bedouin lifestyle. These tents are informally arranged within the desert setting with private outdoor swimming pools that complement the retreat’s architecture.

What qualities do you think make this property stand out?
Shurooq’s commitment to environment-friendly and sustainable practices is evident in Al Badayer Oasis and is what makes this property stand out. Several initiatives are in place to reduce waste and conserve resources. For instance, the retreat’s water conservation measures consist of a water recycling process that makes use of efficient technologies and piping channels to recycle water for multiple uses in and around the property. Apart from an energy-efficient lighting system, other green actions at Al Badayer Oasis include low consumption of plastic and the use of recycled materials in the various amenities and services provided to guests.

How, according to you, is the hospitality industry evolving?
Over the past few years, an increasing number of players in the hospitality industry has been investing in sustainable eco-tourism in a meaningful way. With tourists too becoming more aware of the impact of their travels on the local environment and communities, there is a greater demand for responsible, ethical and sustainably developed destinations. The non-traditional tourism projects perfectly align with Shurooq’s commitment to promoting responsible tourism by offering authentic, local experiences, and its vision to set new benchmarks for eco-luxury destinations. We have come a long way in materialising this vision with our Sharjah Collection brand – a trio of eco-retreats, namely Al Faya Lodge, Kingfisher Lodge, and Al Badayer Oasis – purposefully located in key locations throughout Sharjah. Through the eco-oasis of Al Badayer, Shurooq aims to advance responsible tourism practices and wildlife conservation in the UAE and Sharjah. To drive tourism growth, Shurooq is investing heavily in environmentally responsible luxury hospitality in natural areas that conserve the area’s environment and natural habitat, as well as improve the welfare of local people.

What are your expectations in Sharjah’s investments in tourism during 2020?
2020 appears to be a promising year as it will be marked by the launch and development of several tourism and hospitality projects across the emirate. In December 2018, we opened the Khorfakkan Beach project, the first fully integrated beach project in Sharjah’s eastern region that is redefining tourism and business experiences for visitors and tourists and has allowed investors, retail businesses and SMEs to tap into new markets to drive economic growth within the city of Khorfakkan. Shurooq’s conservation, preservation, and restoration initiatives are attracting global designers, developers and investors who are looking to bring their innovations and architecture into Sharjah. This year, we further our role in intensifying the emirate’s investments in tourism in a way that preserve and promote Sharjah’s cultural and historic heritage in a modern, contemporary manner By developing projects that enrich and promote authentic, cultural and eco-tourism, Shurooq will continue to contribute to Sharjah’s global tourism ranking along with the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), and contribute to its Sharjah Vision 2021, attracting a total of 10mn tourists by the year 2021. It will also facilitate the access of local and global brands to Sharjah’s tourism sector through strategic partnerships. We’ve already seen great success in this area by successfully bringing the world’s largest festival for art and entertainment, Fringe, to Sharjah and the UAE. This is a brand new investment in 2020, by Shurooq to promote tourism and culture in Sharjah.