SHARJAH (الشارقة)

We had a lovely day in the more conservative emirate of Sharjah (no alcohol available). Sharjah takes a more subtle approach, forgoing glitz to concentrate on culture and history. It is home to some of the country’s best museums and art galleries: the restored Sharjah Heritage Area and the mind-bogglingly vast history of the Mleiha Archaeological Site. This emirate is doing more than anywhere else in the UAE to preserve its heritage, explaining why Unesco declared it the Cultural Capital of the Arab World in 1998. Its recognition was reaffirmed in 2014 when it became the Capital of Islamic Culture. We had a long, tiring walk through the city. We visited the Museum of Islamic Civilization (🎟️10 AED), set in a stunningly converted souq on the waterfront, where you will find everything you’d want to know about Islam.

A row of canons welcomed us in a nicely renovated 1823 fort converted into a museum with exhibits focusing on Sharjah’s ruling Qasimi family. Then we got to the Al Noor Mosque, the most beautiful of Sharjah’s 600 mosques, built in traditional Ottoman design overlooking the Khalid Lagoon. We did not go to nearby Al Noor Island because of the entrance fee of 50 AED. But we continued around the Al Majaz Waterfront with the after-dark Sharjah Fountain show, which combines lasers, lights, and spurting water columns into five-minute shows. The clutch of cafes and fast-food outlets leads us to the Al Qasba, a canal-side pedestrian zone with restaurants (Laffah – Lentil soup 10 AED, Coleslaw 10 AED, Small Pepperoni pizza 25 AED, Grapefruit juice 15 AED, Lemon Mint juice 15 AED, Small water 2 AED), and the bright and cheerful mural by Tamila Schubert, which decorates the pedestrian bridge across the canal.

Parking location – Sharjah: 25.365444N 55.389927E (🚻)