What’s On has details of plans for Sir Bu Nuair Island in the Gulf, UAE, to rival Palm Jumeirah for luxury, not in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but in Sharjah.

Ambitious new plans to transform an island in the Gulf into a five-star holiday destination have been unveiled not by Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but their more sedate sister emirate, Sharjah.

Perhaps anxious to keep up with Dubai – home to the famous Palm Jumeirah and the World Islands – and Abu Dhabi – which hosts the F1 Grand Prix on Yas Island – Sharjah has announced “groundbreaking” plans to develop Sir Bu Nuair Island, a marine and wildlife habitat 65km off the UAE coastline.

According to 7Days, by 2017 the island will be home to a luxury five-star hotel and resort, upscale villas and hotel apartments, an amphitheatre, a museum, a mosque, an airport, shops, restaurants and more.

The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has said Sir Bu Nuair Island will become a “unique” destination.

The island, a marine and wildlife habitat famed for its beautiful beaches, can be reached by sea in two to three hours, or by plane in 25 minutes from Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi or 40 minutes from Sharjah.

Shurooq unveiled the plans – expected to cost around Dhs0.5billion – at the Arabian Travel Market.

Shurooq CEO HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal said: “The aim of this landmark project is to turn this vitally important island into a unique destination; one that offers a mix of high-end luxury and comfort, one that fosters a genuine sense of community, and one that captures the region’s vibrancy and cultural heritage in its architecture and offerings.”

He said the developer would be working together with the Environment and Protected Areas Authority in order to ensure the island’s vitally important ecology is preserved.