ATM 2024: Ajman may be the UAE's smallest emirate, but it has big tourism plans

Authorities report a 29 per cent increase in tourist numbers as Ajman lays plans to become a cultural hub

Ajman is popular for its coast and mangroves, with tourists also able to find cheaper accommodation than elsewhere in the country. Photo: Unsplash
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The UAE’s smallest emirate has big tourism plans this year. At this week's Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Ajman announced that international tourist numbers increased by 29 per cent last year, compared to 2022.

The emirate also used the Middle East's largest travel and tourism exhibition to launch Ajman Events Calendar, which features a variety of cultural festivals, sports events and entertainment acts set to take place over the coming months as Ajman pushes to attract more domestic and international visitors.

Among the events taking place this year are Ajman Motor Festival, Liwa Ajman Dates and Honey Festival, Festival of Folklore Strings and Ajman Half Marathon. A grand New Year’s Eve firework display is also planned.

“We celebrate the rich diversity of arts, culture, sports, entertainment and adventure that defines Ajman,” said Mahmood Alhashmi, director general of the Ajman Department of Tourism Development.

International visitor numbers to Ajman are on the up, with the emirate reporting that 60 per cent of its tourists come from outside the UAE. A lot of that is down to the affordability and the unique appeal of the emirate, Alhashmi says.

“The history and the culture in Ajman are different than in the other emirates. It’s something you can only find here,” Alhashmi told The National at the Arabian Travel Market.

“About 60 per cent of our visitors are families. Between the cost of a hotel in Dubai and one in Ajman, they choose to stay here ... because they can stay in a five-star hotel that’s a copy-paste of Dubai – nothing less, but cost-wise it might be 30 or even 40 per cent cheaper.”

Home to a large museum in Ajman Fort, the former residence of the ruling family, Ajman is popular for its coast, mangroves and corniche. The emirate has a stunning nature reserve, as well as hiking trails in the Hajar Mountains. There is also the village of Masfout, an exclave of Ajman that's surrounded by Ras Al Khaimah.

Being the smallest emirate in the UAE also offers a unique advantage, Alhashmi said. “You might think that the city’s small size is a challenge, but we think it’s an opportunity as when tourists come here, they can see the whole destination in maybe three or four days.”

Ajman is looking to build on its impressive tourism numbers. Proposals are in place to expand the offerings at hotels including at The Oberoi Beach Resort, a five-star retreat in Al Zorah. Alhashmi said new hotels were also planned, with operators coming to the emirate from Egypt and Europe.

With many international travellers looking for cultural experiences during their trips, Ajman is working to open its doors to tourists.

“We are working with a company and they’re preparing a programme. It’s not launched yet, but we’re at the stage where we are working with some local people. We’ve started with three families, two in Ajman and one in the Masfout area, and soon travellers will be able to come and visit them, stay with them, share a meal and really see how local families in Ajman are living,” Alhashmi said.

On Thursday, the Ajman Department of Tourism Development signed a deal with the Rewaq Ousha Cultural Centre, which aims to raise awareness among young people about the importance of preserving heritage.

It is part of Ajman's broader plans to strengthen ties with local groups. The move also aligns with the goal of Ajman Vision 2030 to nurture and enhance the cultural and creative landscape and to establish the emirate as a tourism centre in the region.

Updated: May 10, 2024, 4:04 AM