Capturing the Soul of a City
A destination for tradition, culture and heart
Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, better known as Shurooq, was undertaking the restoration and preservation of the historical heart of the emirate of Sharjah. The largest project of its kind in the region, it aimed to bring back the old world charm, history and sense of place displaced over the years by modern developments surrounding the emirate’s expansion.
MBLM created and promoted a new brand around the historically affluent district, aptly named Heart of Sharjah. The branding program looked into the past, brought it into the present, and embraced the future of Emirati tradition and culture within the Sharjah. The branding process commenced with defining the essence of Heart of Sharjah. MBLM created a strategic platform based on the location being a “place of a million stories”, a notion that the narratives of the founding families were alive and found around every corner in the district. This also acted as a medium for new stories to be woven in through developments such as boutique hotels, galleries and cafés. The new visual identity leveraged this story, building on the intersections between past, present and future, and reflecting the tales of a location steeped in culture.
To bring the story to life, MBLM developed a comprehensive set of promotional experiences and materials, the core of which was a discovery centre to exhibit the historical wealth of the district and the emirate. Here, the lives of the founding families were showcased using audio-visual experiences, with historical artifacts displayed along the walls in a traditional setting modernized for the needs of the experience. The discovery centre also fulfilled a secondary purpose by attracting and informing investors with a detailed masterplan for Heart of Sharjah and supplementary investment-specific marketing materials.
The experience was brought together with the help of a comprehensive public wayfinding system for the entire area, built on a scalable and modular set of branded elements, and a guided tour map to help visitors find their way through the district’s many attractions.
The new Heart of Sharjah brand has helped build awareness among investors and tourists alike, and has created a unique, ownable identity and sense of purpose for the custodians of this slice of Sharjah’s past. This has led to increased footfall at the area and the discovery centre, and a growing amount of investments and property developments within the district, most prominently the Al Bait Hotel and traditional souqs. Heart of Sharjah has established itself as a premier destination for cultural understanding within Sharjah and the Middle East.