U.S. travel magazine Travel + Leisure (a guide for the best hotels, restaurants, and things to do around the world) recognized the Emirate of Sharjah, third largest and third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as home to some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in the country and therefore a must-visit place when exploring the UAE.
Did you know that Sharjah City has an impressive array of over twenty museums covering virtually every aspect of life and culture? Do check out the official site of the Sharjah Museums Department.
- The Sharjah Heritage Museum is a tour not to be missed. It takes visitants through the early origins, history, and culture of Sharjah.
- The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization is “a veritable treasure-house of information about the Islamic civilization with artifacts from across the world.” On exhibit are coins, calligraphy, manuscripts, metalwork, and much more.
- The Sharjah Maritime Museum documents sea and sail voyages, as well as established trading relations. An exhibit include the traditional dhows that provide glimpses of the fishing village on to the full-scale pearling boat that highlights the diverse maritime history of the Emirate.
Sharjah also has several art galleries, such as the modern Sharjah Art Foundation, located in Sharjah’s historic Art and Heritage Areas, which presents a year-round line up of activities and events that include “exhibitions featuring the work of Arab and international artists, performances, music, film screenings and artist talks as well as extensive art education programmes for children, adults and families. The Foundation hosts the annual March Meeting and every two years presents the Sharjah Biennial.”
Sharjah National Park, an area of nearly 630 thousand square feet, is a great spot for walking, jogging, relaxing or playing. It’s also a place to spend time with family or friends to meet-up or have picnics and barbecues.
The park, located at Al Gharayen and 3km from Sharjah International Airport Bridge, has a kids’ playground with rope ladders, a jungle gym, slides and a lot more; children are also entertained by an assortment of rides. There are sport courts too, as well as benches and green areas. In addition, there are cafeterias, which offer quality snacks and meals. Plus, there’s a miniature city with models of prominent landmarks of Sharjah city. The whole family can have fun here.
Another place to bring the kids is the Sharjah Aquarium, which is right next door to the Maritime Museum and is definitely worth a visit. And the beaches of Sharjah City to include Al Khan beach which is very near the Aquarium might be tempting too.
Other adventure activities like a safari or ATV off-roading in the sand dunes of the Sharjah desert might interest others.
Tourists should plan on visiting the “Eye of the Emirates, “the Al Majaz Waterfront and Al Majaz park; the King Faisal Mosque, the largest of the mosques in the city, the Al Maghfirah Mosque or the Al Noor mosque. Another popular stop is the Mleiha Archaeological Centre.
For shoppers, there’s an array of traditional Souqs, bazaars, and modern malls. The Sahara Centre has many shopping outlets. The Mega Mall, which is located in the heart of Sharjah City, is the largest mall in the UAE.
Events that draw visitors include the Sharjah Light Festival, held annually in February, and the F1H20 World Powerboat Championship that is held sometime in the months of November-December every year.
When it comes to sports, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium is home to big crowds. Did you know the stadium is a regular home for tournaments and for one-day cricket matches along with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as one of the UAE’s international venues for Test cricket? Sharjah Cricket Council secretary Mazhar Khan hopes the recognition of the Guinness Book of Records will help Sharjah to stage more cricket in the near future. A place where many cricket legends were shaped.
Sharjah is an emirate to visit to explore, experience and discover the secrets of a unique Arabian lifestyle and Islamic culture, ‘a fascinating oasis [that] appeals to all tastes.’ As the sharjahairport.ae website states: “Within the main city, you can picnic in one of the gorgeous parks, relax on the beach, explore heritage sites and museums, barter in souks and shop in modern malls, or walk along the corniche.”
Sharjah City was recognized by UNESCO in 2014 as the Capital of Islamic Culture and has much to promise to tourists and residents in terms of culture, nature, fun, architecture and history.