Keywords: city branding, place marketing, qualitative research, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, UAE, cultural heritage, brand management
City brand challenge 101: Sharjah in a globalised UAE context
The main purpose of this paper is to make a business case for Sharjah, the third largest of the seven city–states that constitute the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We undertake an exploratory enquiry into the 'place marketing' effort of this little known geographical entity relying extensively on secondary data - notably the official website of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), media sources, a selection of place branding literature. We also draw upon our personal observation and lived experiences in the emirate. Our central proposition is that Sharjah need started being viewed in a similar vein as its more populous sibling, Dubai. To achieve this, however, its modest branding efforts needs to become more robust, especially in the light of its acclaimed status as the 'cultural capital' of the UAE, with its rich array of cultural and traditional edifices (including several museums of archaeology, natural history and science, heritage, Islamic art), as well as its location advantage.