Dubbed the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah is the third-largest city strategically located on the southern side of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. The sheer size and history of Sharjah lend its diverse cultural heritage to UNESCO the title of Capital World Book Capital for 2019. Historically, Sharjah has been one of the wealthiest cities in the United Arab Emirates, with settlements back for 5,000 years.
Although a spectacular horizon, grand canals, lagoons, corniche homes, upscale hotels are among the city’s atmospheres, it is in fact the presence of museums, art galleries, heritage enclaves, exquisite architecture, and the annual Sharjah International Book Fair. Placed it at the forefront of the Arab cultural landscape.
For your upcoming holiday in the UAE, do not make Sharjah a transit destination only. Take a break from the more flashy Emirati cousins and dive into the breathtaking sensory and cultural experience that awaits you in Sharjah. Here we see some such sights and experiences.
Places to Visit in Sharjah
More than five years in the making, Sharjah’s largest mosque opened its doors to visitors in 2019. The Dh300 million project has 185,806 square meters of room for more than 25,000 devotees. Out of this, around 5000 devotees, as well as 710 women, can be offered inside a special structure to sit. Incorporating elements of traditional Islamic architecture, the mosque is notable for its domes and minarets, ornate pillars, and numerous water fountains and gardens.
See stained glass work on the arched windows of the main prayer hall. You will find verses from the Quranic verses on its walls. The huge chandeliers and red carpeting in the center reflect ambiguity. The complex has a souvenir shop as well as a cafeteria. To soak up the architecture of the Sharjah Mosque for non-Muslims, there are separate open spaces from a collection hall that holds books and antiques from various Islamic eras. If you are a tourist who wants to explore this breathtaking piece of architecture, you can take a stroll on the designated rubber track that winds around the mosque.
Mleiha Visitor Centre
The Maliha Visitor Center, about 65 kilometers southeast of Sharjah City, is located in Mleiha, close to Jebel Feh. Among the UAE’s most amazing archaeological sites, it uncovers the ancient mysteries of mankind in the Arabian Peninsula. Built from an umm-male surrounding a large Bronze Age mausoleum, Mleiha is a rich storehouse of artifacts, interactive exhibits, and exhibits.
You can also take a guided tour of the various archaeological sites around. For a delicious Arabian fare, stop at the on-site café. There are many activities on offer, as well as treks and 4WDs to Camel Rock and Fossil Rock. You can be paragliding from one of the highest peaks of Mleiha. Dune buggy rides and desert cycling tours are also very common in the region.
Through the efforts of the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Rain Room has become a permanent establishment where visitors are treated to continuous rainfall – quite rare in the desert. In the Rain Room, you need to navigate carefully through a dark underground area that protects itself from heavy falls every time. The main chamber is attractive in that it uses sensors that prevent precipitation when movement is detected.
So if you walk very fast, then there is a full chance of getting wet in the rain. Walk slowly and you can cross dry and crunchy with your clothes when you came. 1200 liters of recycled, self-cleaning water is used by continuous rain. The experimental, a form of contemporary art that incorporates the digital practice, was founded by Random International, a London-based collaborative studio.
A strictly cultural experience, the retail therapy at Textile Souk along the creek at Al Shuawaihen and the Rolla Square Park area are some of the best as they are a treasure of raw silk, embroidered fabrics, and cotton. For some truly vibrant colors, browse the collection at the central Shak and Souk Al Sor textile center on the Al Shab Village and the Smack in front of the King Faisal Mosque. Also shop for some fine silks, saris, beaded dresses, lacework, and designer wear as Suk is a store of some of the best quality clothing.
Al Noor Mosque
Undoubtedly, Al-Noor Mosque is also the first to open its doors to non-Muslim visitors, overlooking Khalid Lagoon on Buhaira Cornish, the grandest mosque in Sharjah. What immediately impresses you about the structure is its Ottoman architecture with the proliferation of its domes and two tall towers that are a permanent fixture of the Sharjah horizon. The detail on its arches, domes, and columns will thrill you as the calligraphic inscriptions from the Quran will be cleaned. Mosque visits are a great way to understand Islamic as well as local culture. Although there is no entry fee to the mosque, a strict dress code is followed. Cameras are allowed here; You can also snap inside the structure.
Emirates Fine Arts Society
With its headquarters on Arts Square in the heart of Sharjah, quite close to the Sharjah Art Museum, the Emirates Fine Arts Society organizes art workshops, seminars, and exhibitions to promote art and appreciation for national artists. Keeping the art scene alive in the UAE, the society hosts an annual exhibition which is considered to be the longest-running art exhibition at the Sharjah Art Museum. Pop into the venue, take to its open courtyard that is available to visitors who wish to give a seminar, workshop, or lecture in ceramics, calligraphy, painting, photography, sculpture, and graphics.
Emirates Handicraft Centre
Located in the Heart of Sharjah Heritage District, close to Cornish Road and West Gate, the Emirates Handcraft Center is home to a 19th-century traditional merchant’s home to showcase atmospheric handicrafts that symbolize life in the desert city is. Before you can even go to the Art Showcase, you will be struck by the surrounding stone and plaster wall, the massive central courtyard, and the Warren of the rooms surrounding it. You can usually pick up rich souvenirs of the choice of date jaggery outside of seeing the artisans at work. It is truly amazing to experience firsthand how a palm leaf basket is woven by hand.
Sharjah Calligraphy Museum
Located in Calligraphy Square, in the historic house of Hamad Al Midafa in the heart of the Sharjah Heritage District, the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum is a step back in time to discover the heritage of Arabic calligraphy. Incidentally, it is the only museum in the entire Arab world devoted solely to calligraphy. When you take a stroll in a vast courtyard warmed by the morning sun, you learn about calligraphy starting with Kufic scripts leading to more dynamic styles. Get a sense of this timeless Islamic art form with a collection of works by local as well as international calligraphers on ceramics, wood, paper, and canvas. You can also sign up for a workshop to improve your calligraphy skills.
Al Noor Island
A family-friendly place for those wishing to relax while being transported to the world of sculptures, butterflies, and some unimaginable light displays for a treat here on Al-Noor Island. Explore Butterfly House home to over 500 butterflies of 20 different species. The entire space is done in such a way that it maintains humidity and allows natural light to enter.
Covered with dense foliage, it serves as a sanctuary for butterflies of choice with pink roses, tailed jays, and emeralds. Look up the literature pavilion sprinkled with colorful cushions and verses written in Arabic calligraphy. Walking into the pavilion and the sound of water coming from the fountain will blow your senses. In addition, Al-Noor Island has devastated gardens with a wealth of plants and some very awe-inspiring art installations that take on a whole new meaning at night when they are illuminated by colorful LED lights. You also have a cafe on site.
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