The latest landmark to grace the scenic skyline of Sharjah is a unique 60-metre high observatory wheel called "The Eye of the Emirates." Moving around Sharjah, you just can't miss it. In fact, it is the tallest structure of its kind in the Middle East, Africa, and West and Central Asia.

By Mubashra Siddiqui (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Thu 7 Apr 2005, 12:29 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:56 PM

Part of the Qanat Al Qasba project which aims to soon become Sharjah's ambitious entertainment and cultural hub, "The Eye of the Emirates" features 42 fully air-conditioned passenger cabins or gondolas attached to its external rim, with each cabin accommodating eight people at a time. Passengers can enjoy a panoramic view covering a distance of over 25-30 miles, including breathtaking aerial sights of the Northern Coast and Shaikh Zayed road.

Costing a total of Dh25 million, the wheel was built in Netherlands according to the latest technology and keeping in mind the highest safety standards. The capsules are aerodynamically shaped for least wind resistance and tuned mass dampers are also attached to the outer rim to prevent the wheel from vibrating at its natural frequency. Air-conditioned and with voice-overs on Sharjah in both Arabic and English, the cabins are further secured to the outer rim of the wheel ensuring unobstructed views through their large glass windows.

"The Eye of the Emirates" was assembled over a period of eight months and is the brainchild of reputed regional leisure consultants Thomas Klein International who are confident that it will prove a popular springboard to the area's extensive cultural and entertainment attractions.

"The Eye of the Emirates will be a highly visible feature...There is nothing like it in the Middle East and the surrounding areas, and we expect it to be a strong draw for people to visit Qanat Al Qasba," said Daniel During, Managing Partner of Thomas Klein International.

Qanat Al Qasba is an initiative commissioned by the Qasba Development Authority, which was recently created by His Highness Dr. Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. It is chaired by Shaikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi who said, "Both during the day and at night, the Eye will bring the Al Qasba area to life and will be a matter of civic pride for Sharjah residents, who can not appreciate their city more and show it off to the rest of the world."

She also pointed out that "The Eye of the Emirates" would provide a glimpse of the rich line-up of leisure, cultural and entertainment activities that are being offered as part of the Qanat Al Qasba attractions.

Another key feature at the Qanat Al Qasba will be global circus performances over a period of 15 months. Five different shows will run on a quarterly basis, the first being a specially-tailored performance based on Aladdin from renowned Gandey World Circus Productions.

Produced and directed by Phillip Gandey himself, the show at Qanat Al Qasba will be a world premiere. It will feature European circus artists and dancers, Moroccan acrobats, Chinese State Circus performers, Mexican clowns, South African jugglers, and trapeze artists from the UK among others. Each show will run for a period of two hours.

"Aladdin is one of the best known tales and allows for a variety of individual acts which have been woven into the story," said Gandey. "For instance, in the story Aladdin travels to China and this lets us showcase the Chinese performers for the first time here in Sharjah."

Indeed, in an interesting sequence of the tale called "Happy Cooks," which refers to the elaborate kitchen preparations that the evil Jaffar orders on his impending marriage to Jasmine, the Chinese performers display amazing plate and knife spinning and juggling skills.

Both "The Eye of the Emirates" and the Circus will open to the public at large on the 14 of this month. Tickets to "The Eye of the Emirates" will cost Dh20 for adults and Dh10 for children under twelve. The prices of the tickets for the circus depend on the kind of seating chosen and range form Dh25-60.

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