Sharjah Light Festival begins

The much awaited Sharjah Light Festival got off to a colourful start with H.H. Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, formally inaugurating the first of its kind event in the Middle East in Sharjah on Thursday night.

The Sharjah Light Festival, being celebrated by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority from February 10 to 18, 2011, lit the skies and dazzled the crowds at 12 locations across the emirate.

The opening ceremony was graced by H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, a number of Sheikhs and senior officials. After launching the colourful extravaganza at the scenic Al Qasba, Sheikh Sultan went on a cruise from Al Qasba Canal to Khalid Lagoon in a procession of abras and accompanied by prominent sheikhs and VVIPs and members of the media to inspect the rare encounter of light and colour that lit up the landmarks across the emirate.

In his speech on the occasion, SCTDA Chairman Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, pointed out that Sharjah has long been home to culture, history, art, education and heritage. "Its distinct blend of tradition and modernity gives Sharjah its unique charm and has helped it emerge as the capital of Arab and Islamic culture. And it is the extraordinary vision of Sheikh Sultan that has brought glory to Sharjah making it the hub of the Arab and Islamic civilization," said Al Qasimi.

At the same time, he added, Sharjah has worked relentlessly to develop its tourism sector by carrying out extensive studies of tourist sites and potential in the region. The SCTDA has spared no effort in promoting and presenting the best image of Sharjah and its world class tourist attractions by organizing international events and festivals attracting over 1.5 million tourists from around the world.

The SCTDA chief emphasised that the emirate is seeking economic development by undertaking projects that not just support its infrastructure but also attract international investors. This is necessary to develop a balanced economy. At the same time, he stressed, we celebrate a genuinely rich heritage, artistic creativity and culture reflecting our glorious history.

The Sharjah Light Festival is one such initiative, a unique achievement based on solid foundations laid down by our ancestors. "All this has become possible only because of the blessings of Almighty God and the insight and vision of H.H. Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, ," he pointed out.

Sharjah is making efforts to raise the cultural and intellectual standards in order to groom a mature generation capable of preserving and promoting and the future of this emirate, he said. Introducing the Sharjah Light Festival, Al Qasimi said that the festival opens "a beautiful world full of happiness, joy, imagination and dreams it's a child's world, the ultimate world of innocence!" The unusual festival of light, a dazzling marriage of art and the magic of light, took everyone's breath away. The effervescent dance of lights accompanied by some scintillating music created a heady experience for the visitors, turning the spotlight on Sharjah's rich cultural heritage and history.

Visitors to the Light Festival will be treated to extraordinary and never before seen views of Sharjah's distinguished landmarks and historical buildings. The audiences are sure to be entranced by the electrifying coloured lights that stream out of the magnificent landmarks of the emirate, with the magical Arabic music playing in the background.

Even though such light festivals are common and very popular in continental Europe and have been held for many years there, this is the first time that such an entertainment and cultural extravaganza is being held in the Middle East. Utilising light and computer animation in a way never witnessed in the region before, the Sharjah Light Festival casts a spell on the visitors, virtually "redrawing" whole buildings in the space of a few minutes. The light shows are being supervised and monitored by world class professionals and artistes with experience in organising similar festivals in Lyon, France and Berlin, Germany.

The Sharjah Light Festival uses a new high quality light presentation technique -- Light Emitting Diode (LED) -- that consumes minimal power.

Objectives of the Sharjah Light Festival The aim of the Light Festival is to turn the spotlight on Sharjah's status as a favourite international tourist destination, emphasising the emirate's magnificent Islamic architecture and cultural heritage. The light festival will add numerous new and interesting events to the emirate's already busy and exciting calendar.

The Sharjah Light Festival was unveiled earlier in two magnificent preliminary shows. The first was launched at Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building on May 2, 2010. The show captured the attention of residents, tourists and media representatives. The launch ceremony also unveiled the festival's logo celebrating light. The second preview came as part of the Eid Al Adha celebrations in November 2010 at Sharjah Cultural Palace where a number of visitors had gathered to enjoy the play of light and colour illuminating the emirate's magnificent monuments, landmarks and government buildings the Eid celebrations.

The locations The Sharjah Light Festival is being held at 12 locations across the emirate, namely: Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Al Qasba (2 locations) Al Majaz Park Al Noor Mosque Palm Oasis The Central Souq Heritage Area '&' Arts Area Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization Al Maghfira Mosque Sharjah Hisn Cultural Palace Square Government buildings (6) Al Layyah area.

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