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Sharjah – A seat of customs and civilization

The third largest emirate of UAE, the emirate of Sharjah, straddles the peninsula, overlooking the Arabian Gulf to the west and the Gulf of Oman to the east. This gives it the unique advantage of being geographically diverse. The emirate boasts of some of the most varied sceneries and splendid waterfronts. This bustling city is a hub for trade and business and a seat of culture and traditions. It is a blend of the old and new. Sharjah today boasts of modern waterfront hotels, beautiful mosques, lakefront apartments, restaurants, and well laid-out parks and gardens. Sharjah renowned for its souks, both traditional and new, is a virtual treat for bargain hunters. But arguably Sharjah's greatest draw is its local history, preserved at its very best in several well-maintained museums.

A brief history:
Sharjah was once part of a single emirate along with Ras Al Khaimah ruled by the Al Qawasim family. H.H. Sheikh Dr.Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi took over as Ruler in 1972 - a scholar in History, he has been conferred with a PhD (Doctorate in Philosophy) for his outstanding work. Under his able guidance, Sharjah has made rapid progress. Today, it is known as the Cultural capital of the U.A.E.

In 1971, the discovery of the oilfield near the island of Abu Musa changed the fortunes of the emirate. Sharjah was also the first port in the entire Middle East to possess fully-equipped container facilities at the Sharjah Container Terminal. Its impressive port at Khorfakkan provides important facilities for ships. It is famous in the cricketing world as a major venue for One Day Internationals. This emirate is home to some of the finest Arab, Islamic and wildlife research in the world.

Where to stay
Sharjah has ample accommodation to suit all needs, business or leisure. There are hotels to suit every budget, from luxurious five star hotels to inexpensive budget hotels. Whatever the requirement, Sharjah has something to suit every taste and budget.

Top picks:
Corniche Al Buhaira Hotel
Situated on the banks of Sharjahs’ Khaled Lagoon, this 5-star hotel offers spacious rooms with views of the lagoon. The air-conditioned rooms at Corniche Al Buhaira Hotel feature a modern, elegant décor. Sharjah’s city centre is just 10 minutes by car. Dubai International Airport is a 20-minute drive from Al Buhaira.

Holiday Inn Sharjah
Holiday Inn Sharjah offers a rooftop pool with views of Sharjah city and a 24-hour lounge serving pastries and cakes. It is a 10-minute drive from Sharjah International Airport. All rooms are sunny and fitted with large windows, most of which overlook the city. Guests can enjoy a warm drink from the tea / coffee maker and relax with the complimentary newspaper. Sharjah Holiday Inn is a 15-minute drive from Dubai International Airport.

The Radisson Blu Hotel
Radisson Blu creates iconic buildings with individual interiors invoking an inviting, exciting ambiance and offering a holistic hospitality experience that is totally relevant to this day. With a sloping façade highlighting its modern architectural design, the 15-storey Radisson Blu is a premier accommodation in Sharjah. The resort features 306 generously-appointed guest rooms, suites and poolside cabanas with stunning gulf views. Colours and fabrics are warm and inviting, and amenities like Free high-speed Internet access and use of the Bay Club promise to please.
If you are looking for mid-range hotels, Sharjah has plenty of options. Sharjah Grand Hotel, Al Hamra Hotel are a few to name offering best facilities at a reasonable price. Most of them are located within close proximity to the city centre.

Budget accommodations that provide good services and a comfortable inexpensive stay are also widely available.
What to do:
Heritage and Culture:
A visit to the heritage area is a must-do for all those interested in taking a trip back in time. Many historic buildings have been reconstructed with traditional materials. Most sites in the Heritage Area have opening times set aside solely for women. Visitors of both genders should make certain of these on arrival in the city.

Al HisnFort: The Sharjah Fort Museum dominates the Heritage District. The fort itself has been restored by the present Sheikh and the museum provides something of a glimpse of the social history of the Emirate. This stunning fort, the former residence of the Al Qasimi Ruling family houses priceless objects, fascinating old photographs, classic weapons and trading tools tracing 200 years of Sharjah history.
  • Al Eslah School Museum: This was the first formal school in Sharjah and today it allows the generations of the past and of the present to meet and to maintain Emirati customs and traditions regarding the Arabic language, religion and Islamic education.
  • Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization: This is a fascinating place for any visitors with an interest in the faith, as there are handwritten Qurans, letters from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to other leaders and various artefacts from Mecca itself. Also a comprehensive display of Arab handicrafts. .
  • Bait al-Naboodah: The original house of the Al Naboodah’s preserved for all to see the old Arabic traditions and way of living.
  • Majlis Al Midfa: Majlis Al Midfaa explains the functions of a majlis as a library and meeting place for local residents, scholars and merchants to discuss poetry, literature and politics, thus maintaining social and cultural communication among the educated people.
  • Souq al-Arsah, Heritage Area. Heritage Area. Another souq worth a visit. It is considered to be the oldest souq in the country. Stop at the traditional coffeehouse for a mint tea and a plate of dates.
  • Sharjah Calligraphy Museum, Heritage Area. A small museum with magnificent calligraphic works of art by Arabic artists with a workshop where students are trained in the art of calligraphy.
  • Art Area: Includes Sharjah's Art Museum which covers regional and international art exhibits, with the oriental collection being its highlights.
  • Sharjah Art Museum: The Sharjah Art Museum shows contemporary art by local and foreign artists. It is also the home of the Sharjah International Art Biennale, a bi-yearly exhibition of international contemporary art and performance.
  • Sharjah Archeology Museum. The museum explores the changing environment experienced by the region's inhabitants from the Stone Age to the present day through displays of artefacts, coins, jewellery, pottery and ancient weapons. Investigate a dig in progress, explore models of burials, houses and tombs and see the first forms of writing in this area.
  • Al-Mahattah-Museum. Al Mahatta was the first airport in the Gulf region. It was opened in 1932 as a staging post for commercial flights from Britain to India. There is an interesting film about the daily life at the airport and Sharjah town in the 1930s and four original propeller planes stand in the hangar.
  • SharjahClassicCars Museum. Located next to the Sharjah International Airport, this museum displays over 100 vintage vehicles dating back to the early 20th century.
  • Other Museums also cover marine, natural history, aviation & other valuable aspects.

Sharjah is a treasure trove of modern malls, stylish shops and boutiques and unique souks and bazaars. The city has several separate shopping areas with busy malls, large showrooms and smaller department stores and centres, as well as exciting furniture warehouses full of artefacts, with fantastic promotions throughout the year. Due to very low import taxes & absence of income taxes, retail prices tend to be reasonable for both brand name goods and especially for curios and handicrafts sold in the souks. Prices are fixed in the malls and the department stores but bargaining is a long-established tradition in the souks. Usually all major credit cards, travellers’ cheques and US Dollars are accepted.
  • Blue Souq (Souq Al Markazi or Central Souq) - An interesting shopping centre hosting around 600 shops in two wings. The ground floor shops tend to stock gold and expensive designer clothes, with the upper level containing shops stocking carpets and curios from as far afield as Afghanistan and Tibet. Haggling over prices in the upper-level shops will frequently attract massive discounts; a great place to buy gifts and traditional goods.
  • Sahara Centre - Sahara Centre, located off the Dubai/Sharjah highway and open since 2002, has a distinctive ‘tented’ exterior and is undoubtedly one of Sharjah's landmarks offering a complete family shopping and entertainment destination. Sahara Centre boasts a highly attractive mix of anchor tenants, renowned international brands and the finest regional stores and kiosks, providing a great shopping and entertainment experience in wide open spaces with natural light and an appealing, airy ambiance.
  • Sharjah City Centre - Sharjah City Centre is located in the heart of the city on Al Wahda Road, a well-known shopping district. Opened in 2001 it covers an area of over 35,000 square metres of shopping, leisure and entertainment for the whole family, and always attracts a large crowd especially with the new extension. The mall offers customers true value for money, and coupled with leisure and entertainment, is a perfect shopping destination for everyone, whether it is for a day out with the family where you can leave the children at the play area; or shopping with friends and meeting for lunch.
  • Sharjah Mega Mall - Sharjah Mega Mall located in Abu Shagara, is a leading retail and leisure facility offering over 150 retail outlets spread over three levels. A place of leisure and entertainment, the mall has Grand Cinemas offering the latest movies and Antic’s Land, a distinctively-themed family entertainment centre comprising three mystical lands with unique rides, edutainment activities and games including a roller coaster, a monorail, 3D cinema and haunted house and the latest video games.
    The mall has a large and busy food court on the top floor and there are several cafés and coffee shops to choose from on each level. Ample indoor and outdoor parking is available.
There are also a number of prestigious markets located in similar commercial centres such as Al Fardan Centre, Ansar Mall, Atlas Mall and Crystal Plaza.

Family Fun:
Sharjah offers the outdoor adventurer the perfect weather for hiking, camping, desert driving and wadibashing, apart from the hotter summer months when scuba diving and dipping in a chilled pool can be a cooler option. For those who like to put their feet up and relax or to be groomed and pampered, the beach and health clubs, the beauty centres and the spas provide plenty of opportunities to unwind and de-stress. With the wide variety of malls and amusement centres, museums and cinemas, a good choice of indoor and family activities are available throughout the year.
  • Sharjah Desert Park: Located 28 km from Sharjah on the road to Al Dhaid, it has three components spread over one square kilometre: the Natural History Museum, Arabian Wildlife Centre and the Children’s Farm. The museum provides people of all ages with an opportunity to learn about the flora and fauna of the Arabian Desert and has five main exhibition halls: A Journey through Sharjah, Man and the Environment, A Journey through Time, The Living Desert and The Living Sea.
  • The Arabian Wildlife Centre: showcases the rich diversity of fauna in the Arabian Peninsula as well as teaching about species which have become, and are becoming, extinct. It contains more than 100 species of animals, and is divided into a reptile and insect house, aviary, nocturnal houses, viewing area and a section for large predators and monkeys. The children’s farm gives children a chance to come into close contact with farm animals, such as donkeys, goats, sheep and chickens.
  • Sharjah Discovery Centre: The Discovery Centre is an interactive ‘hands-on’ facility, designed for young children where they can discover, learn through play, explore the world around them, and understand that science and technology are part of their daily lives.
  • Sharjah Aquarium: The Sharjah Aquarium encourages all its visitors to cherish and conserve the beauty and wealth of the oceans.
  • Sharjah Science Museum: The Science Museum is dedicated to promoting interest, learning and creativity in order to make the discovery of science enjoyable and fun. It inspires innovative learning environments and tools for exploration using imaginative and enjoyable experiences to help visitors of all ages, backgrounds and origins to understand science.
  • Bowling: Go for a strike at any of Sharjah’s three bowling alleys but call in advance to book your lanes: Ewan Hotel, 10 lanes Radisson Blu Resort, 6 lanes
  • Golf, Shooting & Paintball: Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club offers 3 in one with a 9-hole floodlight grass course, 10 indoor shooting ranges, archery, and a floodlit paintball park with jungle and savannah playing fields. The club also has a health club, pool, basketball, tennis, conference facilities and two restaurants and is an excellent addition to Sharjah’s sporting facilities.
  • Horse Riding: Horse racing, desert hacks, pony rides, lessons and livery are all available at Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club located at Exit 6 on the Sharjah/Al Dhaid Road. Road.
  • Ice Skating: Sharjah Ladies Club on the Corniche Road has a national-sized ice rink. Public skating and lessons are available to members and to non-members. Skate at Sky 24’s ‘rink in the sky’ located on the 24th floor of Al Durrah Tower. Al Durrah Tower.
  • King Faisal Mosque: This magnificent mosque was a gift of the Saudi Arabian King Faisal. It was opened in 1987 and has space for 15,000 people. There are separate prayer rooms for men and women and the mosque has an Islamic library with more than 7,000 books.
  • Al-Qasba and Eye of the Emirates: At Al Qasba, you can enjoy culture, entertainment and leisure attractions representing the very best from the Arab world and beyond.
  • Jetskiing: is very famous around summer time in the Khalid Lagoon
  • F1 Boat Races: happen around the manmade island in the BuhairaCorniche sometime around December.
  • Qanat al Qasba: has a beautiful mosque right by the canal. From Al Qasba there is a ferry that gives you a boat tour around Sharjah. Several different yearly festivals take place, and each one is a wonderful cultural experience. There are many fun activities at these festivals such as camel rides, henna, delicious Arabian foods and much more. In celebration of the date season, which runs from mid-May to mid-August, the Date Festival is held at the Fruit and Vegetable Market from May 15 to August 15.

Getting around:
Public buses are by Sharjah Transport. There are seven local and express routes. Dubai's RTA also offers express commuter bus service. Taxis operated by licensed taxi companies are available round the clock. There is a surcharge of Dhs. 20 to go into Dubai.