Sharjah, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, is an appealing and safe destination with a rich history and culture, warm and friendly people, and year-round sunshine. While its diverse landscape includes majestic mountains, rolling dunes, and pristine beaches, its culture is a unique blend of east and west. Fishing and pearling, in addition to general trading, have played important roles in the Sharjah economy, but the pearling industry faded in the 1940s due to strong competition from Japanese cultured pearls.
There are attractions and amenities for all types of travelers here, including fascinating museums, ancient souks, wildlife centers, and off-road adventures, as well as modern shopping malls, luxurious hotels and resorts, delectable dining, and thrilling entertainment venues.
Sharjah's strategic location and abundance of natural resources have aided the emirate's economic growth. Sharjah was home to the first international airport in the Arabian Gulf, built by the British in 1932, as well as the region's first container port, builtin 1976. Sharjah has some of the UAE's most diverse landscapes, ranging from the bustling capital city on the Arabian Gulf through the interior desert and over the Hajar Mountains to the pristine beaches of its east coast enclaves.
The British maintained relations with the Trucial States, the former name of the United Arab Emirates, until 1971, when the country gained independence. Sharjah is ruled by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi since 1972. The discovery of oil in 1972 and the start of natural gas drilling in 1990 provided new sources of income for Sharjah, allowing the emirate to rapidly develop into the successful cultural and business hub that it is today.
However, due to Sharjah's limited oil and gas resources, the economy has been diversified to include manufacturing, health care, environmental protection, tourism, transportation, and logistics. The Sharjah government has established two economic free zones and increased investment opportunities in the emirate in recent years.
Excavations in Sharjah's Mleiha area show that humans were present during the Neolithic Period, the Bronze Age, and especially the Iron Age. Sharjah as a geographical entity has a long history, with archaeological evidence of human civilization dating back at least 10,000 years. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, European powers such as Portugal, Holland, and the United Kingdom were interested in Sharjah as they competed for control of trade routes between the Mediterranean Sea and India.
Sharjah is mentioned on a 1666 Dutch map, which pinpoints the locations of Sharjah towns Calba, Gorfocaan, and Dabba, as well as an 1820 British Royal Navy Sharjah map of the walled city. A treaty signed in 1820 between Britain and local sheiks gave the British control of the Arabian Gulf trade routes. Ptolemy, the Greek geographer, included Sarcoma on one of his maps almost 600 years later, demonstrating international recognition of the Sharjah area.
Sharjah is recognized internationally as a cultural destination as a result of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Mohammed Al Qasimi, a member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The honors recognize Sharjah's leadership role in not only supporting the arts, but also in increasing understanding and appreciation of the emirate's history, architecture, traditional culture, and Islamic roots.
Click by Nitin Badhwar from Flickr
Sharjah's Corniche St, which winds along the coast, is ideal for relaxing strolls and breathtaking views of the city's skyline. Watch the dhows and other boats bobbing outside Creek Customs at the northern end. The bustling street further south is lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels. Corniche is the best place to visit Sharjah at night alive with tourists, joggers, and families out to enjoy the evening air.
Click by Richard Mortel from Flickr
Sharjah Fort, or Al Hisn, was built in 1823 and served as the residence of the ruling Al Qasimi family as well as the seat of Sharjah's government. It was once the largest and most important building in the emirate, but it has since assimilated into the city and is now part of the Heart of Sharjah heritage area. Outside, visitors can see how the fort once protected the city and its inhabitants, while inside, royal artifacts tell the story of Sharjah's modern history and its ruling family.
Click by Shahid Ahmed Siddiqi from Flickr
SHARJAH MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION
This museum's exhibitions work together to tell a comprehensive story of Islamic civilization. Begin with the Abu Bakr Gallery of Islamic Faith, which introduces Islam and its main principles. Following that, explore the museum's collection of reproductions and interactive models that explain the accomplishments of history's great Islamic scholars. Four large galleries upstairs display Islamic art and handicrafts dating from the seventh to the twentieth centuries.
Click by Usamah Mohammed from Flickr
AL NOOR MOSQUE
On the banks of Khalid Lagoon, the iconic Al Noor Mosque stands proudly. Its design is based on traditional Ottoman elements, such as calligraphic inscriptions from the Holy Quran and intricately decorated domes, arches, and pillars. Al Noor is one of the country's few mosques that welcomes non-Muslim visitors. On Mondays at 10 a.m., regular tours are held to promote cross-cultural understanding and to allow visitors to learn about Islam and admire the building's stunning architecture.
Click by Hasan Basri AKIRMAK from Flickr
KING FAISAL MOSQUE
The grand size and complex geometric design of King Faisal Mosque, which is located right in the heart of Sharjah city, make it an interesting sight to behold. The mosque, Sharjah's largest and most distinctive house of worship, covers an area of 12,000 m2and can accommodate up to 12K people inside and an additional 5K outside. While non-Muslims are not permitted to enter, it is worth visiting just to admire the impressive architecture. Its three angular tiers are meant to resemble a multi-pointed star.
Click by Francisco Anzola from Flickr
Al Qasba is a kilometer-long canal that connects the Khalid and Al Khan lagoons. It is lined with popular cafes, restaurants, and interesting attractions. Enjoy a cruise along the canal in an abra or an eco-friendly water cart to take advantage of the waterside location. Maraya Art Centre has an art library, public workshops, and events regularly, and several public park art sites where you can see the center's interactive projects and sculptures. Masrah Al Qasba is a theatre that hosts shows, films, and performances.
Click by Land Rover MENA from Flickr
SHARJAH EQUESTRIAN & RACING CLUB
Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club (SERC) was the first of its kind in the UAE, and it still has one of the largest indoor riding facilities in the region. The club's riding school is supervised by qualified international trainers, and children and beginners can ride on schooled horses. SERC also hosts all equestrian events in the emirate, such as races, show jumping, and dressage competitions.
Click by Rüdiger Stehn from Flickr
Al Montazah, located on Flag Island, is a large amusement and water park encompassing 126,000 sq m right in the city center. Al Montazah also has racing, sports, an amusement, and an adventure playground, in addition to existing water rides and a children's park. The surrounding green space is ideal for a picnic with views of Khalid Lagoon, or you can dine at one of the onsite cafes and restaurants.
Click by Masaru Kamikura from Flickr
Sharjah Aquarium's 20 tanks house more than 150 species of marine life, including clownfish, seahorses, moray eels, rays, and reef sharks. This well-known attraction also promotes marine conservation and the unique habitats native to the UAE, particularly the world's northernmost mangroves at Khor Kalba, a marine reserve in the emirate of Sharjah. The aquarium organizes special events such as interactive workshops and theatrical performances.
Click by János Korom Dr. >20 Milli from Flickr
Al Qurm in Kalba is one of the UAE's oldest natural green areas on the east coast. Its diverse landscape of mangrove forests, swamps, salt marshes, and mudflats serves as a critical breeding ground for many endangered bird species, including the Arabian collared kingfisher. The calm waters of Khor Kalba offer the best vantage point for viewing Al Qurm's diverse wildlife. Absolute Adventure Provides kayak tours through the mangroves, where you can see sea turtles, crabs, and a variety of birds.