Sharjah: A new edition of the international Fringe festival— the biggest art and music event in the world — has arrived in Sharjah, the artistic heartland of the Middle East.
Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) revealed the emirate has formally joined the international Fringe community at a press conference on Wednesday and will host the first Middle East Fringe Festival. The festival will be held from January 16 to February 1 for 17 days in an attempt to bring more theatre and entertainment opportunities to the diverse population of the UAE.
Sharjah’s streets and stages will be the setting for 600 shows that feature a whirlwind of dancers, colours, and imagination at main emirate attractions— Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba, and Al Noor Island.
This Shurooq attraction will host over 50 UAE, country and world performers performing street and circus shows, theatre, dance, music and other interactive entertainment types to attract UAE audiences from all nationalities and age groups.
Sharjah Fringe Festival 2020 is presented by Shurooq with Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) in a strategic partnership. It will be organized in collaboration with Dubai-based events company Dolphin Creative by the National Arts Festival, South Africa, which also produces a thriving South African Fringe.
Ahmed Al Qaseer, Shurooq’s COO, explained: “We want to send a message by taking Fringe to Sharjah that our city is’ a city of choice.’ Through Fringe, we want to bind the more than 200 nationalities in the UAE to the global language of the arts. At the same time, we are building bridges with other cultures that translate the vision of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah’s Supreme Council Member and Ruler, who chose understanding, culture and arts as our road to development.
The festival has a broader appeal beyond the theatre crowds, and Sharjah has planned its seventeen-day program with a particular focus on children. The Sharjah Fringe 2020 will feature 600 craft, theatre and street performances events.
During her speech, Sharjah Fringe’s executive producer, Nobesuthu Rayi, said the festival would include 35 performances, including top international favourites such as the U.S. Great Bubble Boy, Stick Stones Broken Bones from South Africa, Australia’s Tom Thum beatbox artist, I Love Children’s Show named the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s Best Children’s Show, and several other.
Rayi added that the Fringe Festival was born out of the passion of a group of artists with a stronger commitment to their craftsmanship and artistic message than being accepted into a traditional setting. A bold and novel concept emerging in Edinburgh for the 1940s era soon caught up with the rest of the world. More than 200 Fringe events are taking place around the world today.
The biggest edition in Edinburgh exists, with a total of 3,000 events. With their 2019 edition, they sold more than 3 million tickets. Only the World Cup of the Olympic Games boasts larger numbers.