Introducing holidays to Sharjah
Sharjah doesn’t have the profile of neighbouring Dubai, but don’t let that lead you to believe that there’s little to enjoy in this Emirate. There’s a coastline to enjoy with some fine beaches – and, yes, the weather is as hot as you imagine it to be – but Sharjah probably trumps Dubai as a cultural destination with some top-notch museums and buildings along with unique protected landscapes.
The decision of the United Arab Emirates to prepare for the end of their oil reserves by turning their cities into huge tourist attractions has been a delight for adventurous travellers. While it hasn’t had the profile, Sharjah has had money ploughed into its attractions just like Dubai, which is easily accessible from its near neighbour.
There’s luxury accommodation and fine dining wherever you look. And Sharjah has been declared the Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO in the past, a title it loves up to with a fine collection of museums like the city’s art collection and the Museum of Islamic Civilisation.
Remember to pack for different cultural customs and that Sharjah is an alcohol-free destination.
Head on down to the Al Majaz Waterfront to enjoy some city centre peace and quiet. Big brand restaurants are clustered around attractions like coloured fountains and a London Eye-style wheel in pleasant pedestrianised surroundings on the Gulf.
The Al Noor Mosque, modelled after the famous Aya Sofia in Istanbul, is a beautiful sight in its waterfront setting and is welcoming to visitors who come to admire its stunning architecture as well as the crowds who use it as a place of worship every day.
Life’s a beach
You won’t go short of sand in this desert kingdom. The city has invested heavily in its beaches, which are beautifully cleaned and maintained and offer a variety of experiences so expect to find more than just dunes.
The Al Khan Lagoon is a favourite with Jet Ski riders and other motorized water sports fans, with the Al Khan beach’s waters providing good family-safe swimming.
The Al Corniche Beach has traditional palms lining its approaches, with smart clubs and resort hotels vying for access to its sands. Khorfakkan Beach should be on your list if you like watersports or barbecuing, which has become a favourite activity for locals here.
The Al Buheirah Corniche and Sharjah Cornice are artificially created seafront attractions, complete with lagoons and fountains. They’re great places to enjoy romantic sunset seaside walks.
Of course, Dubai’s beaches have become world famous. The JBR Beach is just the biggest and most popular (unlike many local beaches it’s free as well), with a lively seafront promenade that’ll keep you and the family well fed and watered between times on the sand.
Remember that local Islamic standards of dress apply on Emirates beaches.
You must visit the desert in this part of the world, and the city’s Natural History Museum and Desert Park offers a safe way to get the best out of the experience, offering a lot for the kids to enjoy along the way.
You can get a bit more of an insight into the art and culture associated with the religion, at the world-class Museum of Islamic Civilisation, which has artefacts from across the Islamic world displayed in a fine building with staff renowned for their friendliness. Elsewhere, a local heritage museum is growing in quality and the city’s art museum is full of world treasures.