DUBAI, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Sharjah, a sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), gears up to attract more Chinese tourists in the coming years, said a Sharjah official on Friday in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
Sharjah will attract Chinese tourists by transforming the emirate into a "China-ready" cultural destination, said Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA).
In recent years, "Sharjah registered double-digit growth of Chinese visitors, and in one year, we even recorded 120 percent growth," said Al Midfa.
Sharjah is a UAE center of archaeology and has 16 museums which are mostly located in the emirate's heritage area, he said.
"Our emirate is a magnet for Chinese tourists as China has a rich culture and history itself, and we provide a cultural journey to discover Arab and Emirati history and hospitality," he added.
In 1998, UNESCO awarded Sharjah the title of the Cultural Capital of the Arab World.
By 2021, Sharjah aims to welcome as many as 200,000 Chinese visitors by 2021, according to SCTDA.
Since February 2015, Sharjah's low cost Air Arabia has operated direct flights from Sharjah International Airport to Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Al Midfa said that the government-controlled airline will have new destinations in China very soon, as well as collaboration between Air Arabia and a Chinese airline.