Sharjah: Confluence of the past and present

With its rich tapestry of culture, heritage and history, Sharjah is one of the most dynamic and vibrant regions in the country. It is home to souks, wildlife sanctuaries, diving spots, museums, parks and Arabian wildlife, along with a host of worldclass facilities for visitors.

TT Bureau

The Central Souk
The city’s most photographed building is known for its elaborate architecture and close attention to detail with wind towers and beautiful blue tiles. Central Souk comprises six buildings that hold over 600 shops selling everything from handicrafts and clothes, to shoes, souvenirs and anything else you can think of. This is the place to visit for everything authentic — Arabian-rich carpets, lanterns, jewellery and exquisite gift items. One cam stroll down picturesque indoor alleys and experience an exciting mix of local sights, sounds and colours, that are guaranteed to pique your interest.

Al Majaz Waterfront
Looking for a perfect spot to spend the day with family? Head to the Al Majaz Waterfront, which promises fun and excitement for everyone. There are dedicated play areas, parks and activities to please children of all ages from toddlers to teens, including a mini golf course to practice their skills and several restaurants offering cuisines to please every palate. Fitness enthusiasts can jog around the perimeter on the recycled tyre jogging track, with spectacular views of the lagoon and surroundings.

Arabian Wildlife Centre
Sharjah has a unique and extensive range of wildlife, much of which can be spotted at the Arabian Wildlife Centre. The area is divided into three parts,dedicated to three different types of wildlife: mammals, reptiles and insects. However, this is more than just a zoo. It was created to help repopulate certain endangered species by means of a special breeding programme and educate visitors about the dangers of extinction and the importance of bio-diversity. The zoo has been designed in such a way that visitors can enjoy viewing the animals in their natural habitat without disturbing them.

Kalba

Kalba is home to the restored ‘hisn’ (fort), a former royal residence and a seaside promenade. On the southern outskirts of the town, the tidal Khor Kalba boasts of the oldest mangrove forest in Arabia, inhabited by two of the world’s rarest birds. Kalba has an extensive range of attractions to tempt visitors: the beautiful museum at Bait Sheikh Saeed bin Hamad Al Qassimi, watching royal falcons in flight at the Kalba Bird of Prey Centre or kayaking in the mangroves.

Heart of Sharjah

Heart of Sharjah was a project conceived in order to discover and preserve the local history and culture of the emirate. The project, which is ongoing, is scheduled to be completed in 2025, but is already a tourist hotspot for its coral brick walls, carved wooden doors and heritage museums, which evoke a sense of history and culture. This unique attraction is also home to the region’s oldest souk.

Dibba Al Hisn
This place is a must-visit, not only for its swaying palm trees and serene mosques, but also for its bountiful market produce that imparts a unique local colour and character to the place. Visitors can stroll around the harbour and see fishermen bringing in the day’s catch. Or they can hire a dhow and go for an unforgettable cruise round the coast. If they’re lucky, they can spot a dolphin or two and head to the mysterious deserted coves and secret snorkelling spots that will make it an adventure to remember.

Mleiha
Mleiha is home to several historical sites, including Bronze Age tombs and pre-Islamic forts. It is popular for its artefacts, from camel skeletons to pottery and iron tools, many of which are on display in the Mleiha Archaeological Centre. Opened in 2016, Mleiha offers an exciting range of guided tours and activities. Visitors to Mleiha can also opt for activities such as trekking to Camel Rock, desert cycling, 4WD tours, dune buggy rides and even paragliding as well as exploring stone age caves in the Valley of Caves.

KhorFakkan
If diving is your thing, then the port town of Khor Fakkan, the second largest on Sharjah’s East coast, will provide the perfect venue. Shark Island is one such destination, frequented by divers for its coral outcrops and scenic diving spots. The Rifaisa Dam, tucked away in the mountains, is another attraction, especially since it was built over a village and the tops of the houses become visible when there is no rain.

Al Noor Mosque
For anyone interested in delving a little deep into the UAE’s heritage and acquainting themselves with Islamic beliefs, the Al Noor Mosque is a mustvisit, as it is the only Mosque in Sharjah that is open to non-Muslims. A guided tour takes place every Monday at 10 am and includes a focused discussion on Islamic history and emirati customs and traditions. The mosque is modelled on the classical Ottoman style, but with a modern twist.

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