Sharjah is a distinctive Emirate because of its success in retaining its art, culture and heritage. This has led to it being given the title of the ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ by UNESCO. If you are in Dubai, you really should take a short drive to see for yourself why it has been given that status.
The Cultural Square is an excellent starting point with wonderful examples of Islamic architecture and the sculpture of the Holy Quran. There are plenty of things to see: the Ahmed Bin Hanbal Mosque, the Diwan Al Amiree as well as the City Hall and the Cultural Centre.
There are 17 Museums in the Emirate and there is an Art Foundation that has a year round programme of exhibitions and performances to get the message of Islamic Art and Culture across to locals and visitors alike. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi’s love of culture has been rewarded with Sharjah being named as Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014. One of the cultural projects is the distribution of books on subjects ranging from health to religion and history amongst local families.
The main leisure destination is Qanat Al Qasba, where adults and children can enjoy many attractions including the observatory wheel, the Eye of the Emirates, which rises 60 metres into the air and provides stunning views over Sharjah and nearby Dubai. There are plenty of shops selling everything from gold and jewellery to carpets, rugs and ornaments.
The most famous souk in Sharjah is the Blue Souk though you may also like to visit Majarrah with its golden dome and mosaic construction.
Sharjah is the only Emirate to have two coasts, one on the Arabian Gulf and the other on the Gulf of Oman. The city has hosted numerous cricket internationals over the years, initially mostly One Day games but more recently Test matches, as the ‘adopted home venue’ of Pakistan. The city’s population is just in excess of 500,000, with 300,000 more living in smaller towns dotted around the Emirate.