A HUB OF TRADE AND TRADITION :
The third largest Emirate of the UAE, Sharjah is strategically placed between the Gulf of Arabia in the West and the Gulf of Oman in the East. It is known for its spectacular scenery and magnificent waterfront housing luxurious modern hotels, marvellous mosques, well laid out parks, gardens, restaurants and lakefront apartments. It’s a perfect blend of tradition and modernity, of trade and business in the form of fabulous souks as well as a seat of culture, for its local history is well preserved in its museums. Most popular as host to international one-day cricket!
Known as the cultural capital of the Emirates, this was once a part of a single Emirate ruled by the Al Qawasim family. The Sharjah Container Terminal was the first port to possess fully equipped container facilities. Even today its Khorfakkan port provides important facilities for ships. In 1971 an oilfield was discovered near Abu Musa Island and in 1972 HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi took over as ruler of a separate state, helping Sharjah progress and reach where it has today.
HERITAGE AND CULTURE :
The Heritage Area : has been reconstructed with traditional material to help you get a feel of its history. There are separate timings set aside for women vistors so do check on those before you plan a visit.
Al Hisn Fort : this was home to the Al Qasimi Ruling family and houses fascinating objects related to 200 years of Sharjah’s history. Old photographs, weapons and trading tools can be found here. The Sharjah Fort Museum forms a major part of the Heritage District.
Al Eslah School Museum : the very first school of Sharjah is today a meeting ground for Emirati customs and traditions, e.g. Language, religion and education.
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization : besides Arabic handicrafts and artefacts from Mecca, you will find handwritten Qurans and letters from the Prophet Muhammad himself!
Bait Al-Naboodah : get a taste of ancient Arabic lifestyles at the house of the Al Naboodah’s.
Majlis Al Midfa : a library of sorts for scholars and merchants that used to serve as a meeting point to discuss poetry, literature and politics.
Souq al-Arsah Heritage Area : the oldest souq in the country with a coffeehouse that serves mint tea and dates amongst other goodies.
Sharjah Calligraphy Museum, Heritage Area : displays magnificent works of calligraphy by Arabic artists and also holds a calligraphy workshop for interested students.
Art Area : houses regional as well as international exhibits, most famous of which is the oriental collection.
Sharjah Art Museum : displays contemporary art by locals as well as foreigners and holds the Sharjah International Art Biennale, a bi-yearly exhibition that showcases international contemporary art and performance.
Sharjah Archaeology Museum : displays a progression from the Stone Age to the present in the form of jewellery, coins, artefacts, weapons and pottery and even a sample of early writing. You can see a dig or burial in progress as well as early houses and tombs.
Al-Mahattah Museum : the Gulf’s first airport was opened in 1932 as a staging post for flights from Britain to India. You can spot 4 original propeller planes and watch a film that takes you down memory lane.
Sharjah Classic Cars Museum : with over 100 vintage cars that date back to the early 20th century.
Varied Other Museums : for marine life, aviation, natural history, etc.
LET’S SHOP :
From souqs, shops, boutiques, malls, department stores and showrooms to bazaars and warehouses stocking furniture and other artefacts, curios and handicrafts with year round promotions, one really couldn’t ask for more. Due to low or sometimes no taxes, prices are very reasonable though you could get a better bargan in a souq. Malls and department stores have fixed rates. Besides you can freely use your credit cards, traveller’s cheques or US Dollars!
Blue Souq (Souq Al Markazi or Central Souq) : the right place for gifts and local items, this centre has 2 wings and 600 shops. The upper level deals in traditional goods as well as items from Afghanistan and Tibet so you could strike a good bargain. The lower level stocks gold, jewellery and haute couture.
Sahara Centre : just off the Dubai-Sharjah highway is a massive tent with full time entertainment and shopping under its roof. Inaugurated in 2002, it has become a landmark of sorts selling local and international brands in a naturally lit, spacious, open air setting.
Sharjah City Centre : right in the heart of the city, covering 35,000 sq. m of total leisure and sheer pleasure lies one of Sharjah’s favourite shopping destinations. It’s complete value for money, time and energy.
Sharjah Mega Mall : located in Abu Shagara, this mega shopping experience is spread over 3 levels and has at least 150 shops. Children must visit Antic’s Land comprising 3 mystical lands, rollercoaster rides, a monorail, 3D cinema, a haunted house and all kinds of good healthy edutainment. Of course there is the grand cinema, a food court, cafes and coffee shopson each level. Parking is no problem at all.
Popular Markets : Al Fardan Centre, Ansar Mall, Atlas Mall, Crystal Plaza, etc.
FUN FOR ALL :
Depending on the weather you could take a hike, go camping, desert driving, wadibashing, swimming and scuba diving. For the more laid back there are plenty of beaches, spas, health clubs and beauty centres. Then one can also visit malls, souqs, museums, entertainment zones and world class cinema halls.
Sharjah Desert Park : located on the road to Al Dhaid, it is spread over 1km and comprises of
- Children’s Farm : with donkeys, goats, sheep and chicken for children to get a closer look at.
- Arabian Wildlife Centre : with over 100 species of Arabian fauna it is divided into a section for predators and monkeys, an aviary, a nocturnal house and a reptile and insect house. Some species here are almost extinct.
- Natural History Museum : the museum displays Arabian flora and fauna and has 5 huge exhibition halls covering various angles of natural history.
Sharjah Discovery Centre : here children can discover, explore and learn about science and technology through play and interaction.
Sharjah Aquarium : it brings up the wealth of the ocean for all to see.
Sharjah Science Museum : a great way to make science a fun learning experience by helping kids enjoy, explore and peak their interest through innovative learning tools.
Bowling : there are 3 popular bowling alleys but try for Ewan Hotel with 10 lanes and or the one at Radisson Blu Resort with 6 lanes.
Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club : besides the regular sporting facilities, it has a 9 hole floodlit grass courseas well as a flood lit paintball park with jungle and savannah playing fields, archery and 10 indoor shooting ranges.
Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club : located on the Sharjah- Al Dhaid Road you can come here for pony rides, horse racing and desert hacks. Livery is available on request.
Sharjah Ladies Club : has a national sized ice rink and can be used by non members as well for ice skating.
Al Durrah Tower : has a rink on the 24th floor called Sky 24. A lovely place for ice skating.
King Faisal Mosque : inaugurated in 1987, this mosque was gifted by a Saudi Arabian King, after whom it has been named. It can house 15,000 people and has separate prayer rooms for men and women, as well as a library with over 7000 books.
Al Qasba and Eye of the Emirates : the very best of Arabic leisure, pleasure and culture is yours for the asking.
Khalid Lagoon : most popular in summer for jetskiing.
Buhaira Corniche : are manmade islands that have been made popular by the F1 Boat Races held every December.
Qanat Al Qasba : popular for a number of annual festivals that are held here like the Date Festival held between May and August. A cultural experience where you can enjoy delicious Arabian food, henna and camel rides too. There is also a beautiful mosque located here and one can also catch a ferry ride that takes you around Sharjah.
WAY TO GO :
Bus : there are 7 local and express routes run by Sharjah Transport. Also the RTA offers an express commuter service too.
Taxi : a round the clock service is operated by many licensed companies. A ride to Dubai will cost you a surcharge of Dhs 20.