While Dubai admires many bright high-rise buildings and shopping malls, neighboring Sharjah uses a more subtle method to attract tourists, which allows it to focus on the emirate’s culture and history, forgetting the glamour of luxury. Some travelers are repulsed by conservatism, but if you can spend a day or two without beer, Sharjah will be a great place to visit.
It is home to some of the country’s best museums and art galleries, including the renovated Museum of Cultural Heritage and the Archaeological Centre of Maleh. This emirate is making the greatest effort of all in the UAE to preserve its heritage. That is why in 1998 UNESCO declared Sharjah as the cultural capital of the Arab world, and in 2014 it confirmed its title and became the capital of Islamic culture.
The Sharjah heritage and art areas are closely linked to one of the most dynamic art museums in the region; this is a real pleasure for dedicated art lovers and occasional visitors. On the lower floors, there are two galleries with constantly changing temporary exhibitions.
At the top is a permanent exposition of masterpieces of Arab art that have been created since the late 19th century. The importance of the museum as one of the few to have such an extensive collection of Arab art is unquestionable.
The most amazing items of the permanent collection can be found in the exhibition wing of Barjeel Collection Wing – here is a collection of the most innovative and significant works of famous Arab artists from the Foundation of Art Barjeel. Among them «Palestinian woman» Lebanese artist Rafik Charuf, «Ten tired horses speaking with nothing» influential Iraqi artist Kadhim Haider, chaotic and colorful «Popular Quarter» Egyptian artist Zeinab.
If you think that the real history of the UAE began only after the oil was discovered, you’ll see a lot when you’re in the archaeological center and you get a sense of the legacy.
Archaeological excavations in Malehe show that ancient people passed here on their way to Asia during the Paleolithic era. Later in the year 8,000 BC, the Neolithic community settled there, and the area was successively settled during the Bronze, Iron, and Pre-Islamic eras. Spend an exciting day exploring historical landmarks. The interactive Visitor’s Centre, built around the large Bronze Age tomb of Umm al-Nar, houses a museum with a large number of multimedia displays and information panels on which information about the historical value of Maleh is presented. But in order to get a better understanding and to learn about archaeological finds from different eras, collected from different parts of the desert, it is better to book a cheap excursion to the Archaeological Center.
You can also take a mountain bike or take a hike. You can visit the main attractions during any of the tours. Lovers of history must see the caves of Faya, where archaeologists discovered the earliest evidence of the presence of an ancient man outside Africa; the caves of the Wadi and the source where the remains of the Neolithic cemetery were found; the Bronze Age tomb Umm an Nar, as well as tombs, foundations of the fort, palace and houses that belonged to the local population in the pre-Islamic era.
The location of Malehi right on the crossing of the beige desert plains into the yellow and orange dunes is ideal for active rest. The Malehi Visitors Centre offers four-wheel-drive dune rides, mountain biking, hiking, riding, star watching, and camping. If you’re hungry after a field trip, welcome to the finest restaurant that serves the most delicious homemade ginger drink that will satisfy your thirst.
Almost everything you want to know about Islam is in this museum, located in a stunning old bazaar on the promenade. The first-floor galleries are dedicated to various aspects of the Islamic faith, including rituals and the importance of the Hajj, as well as the scientific achievements of the Arab world, especially in the fields of mathematics and astronomy.
On the upper floors, you can travel through the 1,400-year history of Islamic art and see artifacts. Don’t miss the mosaic with the zodiac signs inside the central dome. The photo and description of this landmark Sharjah are perhaps among the most recognizable for the whole world.
The supervision of the collection is rather old-fashioned and requires reconstruction, but one cannot deny the beauty of the exhibits presented. In particular, the first gallery can see an 11th-century cat-shaped smoker from Khorasan in eastern Iran and a magnificent collection of ceramic dishes. In the second gallery, note the iron pins with the heads of demons and cows. Audio guides are available free in six languages.
This park in the lower part of Khalid Lagoon is a favorite destination for walking families, roller skaters, and sunset tourists. The main attraction is stunning views of the high-rise buildings with bright lights and the Al-Nur mosque opposite the promenade.
The kids will be thrilled with the Sharjah Fountain Show after dark, wherein five minutes you will see a bizarre game of lasers, light, and water jets. Other activities will include a playground, a camera obscura, a boat walk, and a mini-golf park. There are also a number of cafés and fast-food establishments, all of which offer luxurious views of the city from the upper terraces.
Observe marine creatures from the west and east coasts of the United Arab Emirates – you won’t even have to wet your feet.
The murens hide, swim flying rays, and dance jellyfish, recreating the nature of Dibba Rock, mangroves, coral reefs of Shark Island, and other habitats of native fish.