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Sharjah is the third largest and third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, forming part of the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area. It is located along the northern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula.
Sharjah is the capital of the emirate of Sharjah. Sharjah shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates of the UAE within a federal framework, although each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions such as civil law enforcement and provision and upkeep of local facilities. Sharjah has been ruled by the Al Qasimi dynasty since the 18th century.
The city is a centre for culture and industry, and alone contributes 7.4% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates. The city covers an approximate area of 235 km² and has a population of over 800,000 (2008). The sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in the emirate of Sharjah without possession of an alcohol licence and alcohol is not served in Sharjah hotels, restaurants or other outlets. This has helped Sharjah increase the number of Islamic tourists who visit the country. Sharjah has been officially named as a WHO healthy city.
|TIME ZONE :|
|AREA :||235.5 km2 (90.9 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||25°21′27″N 55°23′27″E|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :||6|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+971 6|
Named after the large Rolla - Banyan Tree - that used to stand in the square (which inspired the sculpture currently at the centre of the park), Rolla Square is a popular location for workers to stroll during the weekends.
Al Hisn Sharjah
Sharjah Fort was demolished in the 1970s but rebuilt and is today a museum.
'Smile You're In Sharjah' Roundabout
Located between the Blue Souq and Fish Market, near union bank the floral call to cheer up etched on the roundabout has lent its name to the roundabout itself.
The Souq Al Markazi, or Blue Souq, is a popular tourist destination and comprises a gold souq, clothing souq and, on its first floors, antiques and jewellery shops.
The fort was built to house travellers on the Imperial Airways Eastern Empire route and was the site of Sharjah Airport until 1977. It is now an aviation museum.
The Heart Of Sharjah houses several galleries, and museums including the charming heritage museum which gives a great insight into the cultural traditions of the past. The area is also home to the traditional Souk Al Arsa, a covered souk with an array of items to sell including antiques and the office of the Sharjah Centre for Cultural Communication where you can get info on Sharjah attractions.
Sharjah Heritage Museum
The Sharjah Heritage Museum is situated near to the Bait Al Naboodah is just opposite Soouq al-Arsah. This is a beautiful architecturally designed interesting two storey family house. It is built around a shaded courtyard and is dedicated to a family life reconstruction many years ago. There are many rooms which has displays of traditional furniture along with household items too. Moreover, there are also provision of children’s costumes, games and even jewellery.
Sharjah National Park
Sharjah National park covers an area of nearly 630 thousand square feet of area.
Located in Al Layyeh, Sharjah aquarium has over 250 species to see right from the delicate seahorses to smallest clown fish, reef sharks, rays and moray eels. Visitors can submerge themselves to the colorful, diverse and rich undersea world which is home to a variety of marine life which is native to the sea.
Al Noor Island
Al Noor Island is located in the Khalid Lagoon and covers an area of 45,470 square metres. The destination project features art and light installations, including the ‘OVO’ and ‘Torus’ displays.
Arabian Wildlife Center
The Arabian Wildlife Center is the only zoo in Arabia and has different species of animals found in the Arabian Peninsula. Opened in 1999, it is home to more than 100 species of animals. Situated at a convenient location, this center is quite close to the Sharjah International Airport. Despite the hot and dry conditions in most of Arabia, there are a number of mammal species who have adapted to these conditions.
Sharjah was one of the wealthiest towns in this region with a settlement in existence for over 5000 years. In the early 18th century, the Qawasim clan (Huwayla tribe) established itself in Sharjah, c.1727 declaring Sharjah independent. On 8 January 1820, Sheikh Sultan I signed the General Maritime Treaty with Britain, accepting a protectorate to keep the Ottoman Turks out. Like four of its neighbours, Ajman, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Qaiwain, its position on the route to India made it important enough to be recognised as a salute state (be it of the lowest class: 3 guns).
On 2 December 1971, Sharjah, together with Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman,Umm Al Qawain and Fujairah joined in the Act of Union to form the United Arab Emirates. The seventh emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the UAE on 10 February 1972, following giant non-Arab neighbour Iran's annexation of the RAK-owned Tunbs islands.
Like the other former Trucial States, Sharjah's name is known by many stamp collectors because of the large numbers of stamps that were issued by the Sharjah Post Office shortly before the formation of the United Arab Emirates. Many of these items feature subjects unrelated to the emirates whose names they bear, and therefore many popular catalogues do not list them.
Sharjah has a hot desert climate , with warm winters and extremely hot summers. Rainfall is generally light and erratic, and occurs almost entirely from November to May. About two-thirds of the year's rain falls in the months of February and March.
Climate data for Sharjah
|Record high °C (°F)||32.5|
|Average high °C (°F)||24.2|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||17.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||12.1|
|Record low °C (°F)||3.4|
Sharjah is the headquarters of Air Arabia, the first low cost airline in the Middle East, which operates to the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The headquarters is in the Sharjah Freight Center, on the property ofSharjah International Airport. Sharjah Airport Free zone, popularly known as SAIF Zone, is one of the prominent Free zones in UAE. More than 6000 companies operates from SAIF Zone. The cost of setting up business in Sharjah is less than in any other emirates of UAE, and the focus of industrialisation has in recent years turned Sharjah into a commercial centre. Due to the facility of 100% foreign ownership, repatriation of capital & profits and exemption from income and corporate taxes, SAIF Zone has attracted investors from more than 90 countries.
The following are notable areas of Sharjah:
- Abu Shagara
- Al Mahatta
- Al Majaz
- Al Nad
- Al Nahda
- Al Layyeh
- Al Taawun
- Al Yarmook
- Al Qasba
- Al Rolla
- Al Qulayya
- Al Mujarrah
Prices in Sharjah
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$22.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$41.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$105.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.80|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$7.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.17|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.75|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.90|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$54.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$42.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$90.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$1.80|
50 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
160 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) is around 15 kilometres from Sharjah city. It is the home of the low cost carrier Air Arabia which has connections with various Middle East and Indian Subcontinent cities.
- Getting to/from the airport
There is a shuttle bus connecting the airport with Sharjah centre (Rolla) running every 30 min (Dhs. 5). Public bus route 111 (Dhs. 10) runs hourly from the airport via Al Qusais Bus station to the Metro's Rashidiya station in Dubai.
Dubai International Airport (DXB), in the neighbouring emirate of Dubai, has many more international connections and will be the more popular gateway to Sharjah.
- Getting to/from the airport
To go to Dubai International Airport by taxi will set you back at around Dhs. 100. You can travel by public bus to or from Dubai International Airport by using Dubai's local bus service and the inter-Emirate bus service.
Bus travel to Dubai is possible via an inter-emirate bus service run by the Government of Dubai Road and Transport Authority. Most buses leave from the Al Jubail (Al Jabal) bus station next to the Sharjah Fish market and the Sharjah Fruit and Vegetable market, nearby to the Central Souk. A bus from Sharjah to Dubai can take about 1 h and costs Dhs. 5. Timetables can be found at the RTA website.
Taxis can travel from Dubai to Sharjah and vice versa without any restrictions.
Transportation - Get Around
Public buses are by Sharjah Transport, There are seven local and three express routes. Dubai's RTA also offers express commuter bus service. Licensed taxi companies are Sharjah, Emirates, Citi, Union, and Advantage. Taxi plates are reflective green, helps spot them at night. Flag fall is Dhs. 3, then Dhs. 1 every 650 m. There is a surcharge of Dhs. 20 to go into Dubai.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- Souq al-Arsa (in the Heritage Area). 10am to 1.30pm, 4 to 10pm. Souq al-Arsa is considered the most atmospheric souq in the United Arab Emirates: authentic antiques, handicrafts, carpets and souvenirs for a much better price than in Dubai.
- Central Souq (Blue Souq, New Souq). 9am to 1.30pm, 3 to 10pm. The Central Souq is one of the best souqs in the United Arab Republic, specialising in carpets from Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey, pashminas from Kashmir ans silver jewellery from Oman and Yemen. In the Gold Center (corner of Sheikh Humaid bin Sar al-Qassimi Road and Al Wahda Roas) there are plenty of stores selling gold jewellery.
- Khlas Malaki Dates, Corniche Road (near Marbella Resort), 5738383. Sat to Wed 9am to 1pm, 4pm to 8pm, Fri 4pm to 8pm. sweet dates, packed into small boxes, a nice souvenir
- Sharjah Mega Mall, Immigration Road, 5742574. Sat to Wed 11am to 11pm, Thu 11am to 1am, Fri 2pm to 1am. luxury shopping center with more than 140 international shops and the Lebanese Beyrouth Restaurant
The ubiquitous shawarma is sold all over Sharjah and makes a very cheap and hearty meal. Khuboos made of wheat also a cheap food available at very cheap
- Mushmaool Arabic Grill Restaurant, Al Miraj Building 1, beside Megamall Entrance 3, Abu Shagara, 06 5754244. Noon-4pm & 7pm-midnight.Mushmaool is good food and amazing service. Provides the best grill in town and an outstanding dining experience. Committed to provide quality food and a healthy dining experience as close to as what you get at home. AED 35.00/person.
- Seashells, Ahmed bin Dar-eish Square, AL-Chan Road (near Raddission SAS Resort), 5283501. Sa-Th noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight. Fish restaurant serving fried or grilled shrimps, tuna fish and hammour or a seafood platter at reasonable prices.
- Lasani, Sameer Al Mahmood Building, King Faisal Road, Al Majaz 1, Al Majaz(Near RAK Bank), . Pakistani bbq and oriental food. One of the best Pakistani food in Sharjah.
- Syed Al Biryani, Shop#2, Ezza Tower, Al Nad Qassmia, opp Crystal Plaza Hotel, . House of Great taste. One of the best restaurants in Sharjah.
Coffe & Drink
Sharjah is a "dry emirate" which means sale or possession of alcohol within Sharjah is almost entirely forbidden. There are three exceptions:
- Sharjah Wanderers Club. Members and their guests only. Founded in 1977 as a sports club for rugby and diving, it has a pool, tennis courts and lighted rugby fields. There is a British bar which sells spirits, wine, bitter, lager and stout and which serves traditional British food.
- Alcohol is available at the duty-free and business class lounges of Sharjah International Airport.
- If you have a personal alcohol license, you may bring in alcohol from other emirates and consume it at home.
Also, it is legal to transport alcohol through Sharjah if your final destination permits it (such as from Dubai to Fujairah). Some police may not be familiar with this rule though.
Sights & Landmarks
- Heritage Area - Good overview available here including a few restoration of old houses. The Heritage is situated near the Corniche between Burj Avenue & Al-Maraija Road. Many historic buildings have been reconstructed with traditional materials. The most interesting sites are Al Hisn Fort, Literature Square with House of Poetry, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah Heritage Museum and Souq al-Arsa. Most sites in the Heritage Area have opening times set aside solely for women. Visitors of both genders should make certain of these on arrival in the city.
- Al Hisn Fort, Al-Hosn Avenue, 5685500. Sat to Thur 8am to 2pm, Fri:closed. The Sharjah Fort Museum dominates the Heritage District. The fort itself has been lovingly restored by the present Sheikh and the museum provides something of a glimpse at social history of the Emirate. Many exhibit signs, however, are solely in Arabic, with those in English often being rife with errors. Adult:AED 5, Family:AED 10, Children:Free.
- Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, 5655455. Sat to Thur 8am-8pm, Fri 4-8 pm only. Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization is a fascinating place for any visitors with an interest in the faith, as there are handwritten Qur'ans, letters from the Prophet Muhammad to other leaders and various artifacts from Mecca itself. Also a comprehensive display of Arab handicrafts. Adult: AED 5, Family: AED 10, Children: Free.
- Bait al-Naboodah, Heritage Area, 5685500. Sat to Thur 8am-8pm, Fri 4-8 pm only. Adult: AED 5, Family: AED 10, Children: Free.
- Souq al-Arsah, Heritage Area. Sat to Thu 9am-1pm, 4 -9 pm, Fri 4-9 pm only. Another souq worth a visit. It is considered to be the oldest souq in the country. Stop at the traditional coffehouse for a mint tea and a plate of dates.
- Sharjah Calligraphy Museum (Heritage Area), 5694561. Sat to Thur 8am-8pm, Fri 4-8 pm only. A small museum with magnificent calligraphic works of art by Persian, Arabic and Turkish artists with a workshop where students are trained in the art of calligraphy Adult: AED 5, Family: AED 10, Children: Free.
- Sharjah Heritage Museum (Heritage Area), 5680006. Sat to Thur 8am-8pm, Fri 4-8 pm only. A small museum about the history and habits of the emirate Adult: AED 10, Children: AED 5.
- Art Area - Includes Sharjah's Art Museum which covers regional and international art exhibits, with the oriental collection being its highlights. The Arts Area is situated opposite the Heritage Area on the other side of Burj Avenue.
- Sharjah Archeology Museum, Sheikh Rashid bin Saqr alQassimi Rd, 5665466. Sat to Thu 9am-1am, 5-8pm, Fri 5-8pm, Sunday: Closed. The museum explore the changing environments experienced by the region's inhabitants from the Stone Age to the present day through displays of artefacts, coins, jewellery, pottery and ancient weapons. Investigate a dig in progress, explore models of burials, houses and tombs and see the first forms of writing in this area. Adult:AED 5, Family:AED 10, Children:Free.
- Other museums also covers marine, natural history, aviation, and other valuable aspects http://www.sharjahmuseums.ae/.
- Blue Souq (Souq Al Markazi or Central Souq). An interesting, if slightly chaotic, shopping centre hosting around 600 shops in two wings. The ground floor shops tend to stock gold and expensive designer clothes, with the upper level containing shops stocking carpets and curios from as far afield as Afghanistan and Tibet. Haggling over prices in the upper-level shops will frequently attract massive discounts. A great place to buy gifts and traditional goods. Considered superior to Dubai for carpets by Western expatriates.
- Sharjah Desert Park (28 km from Sharjah on the road to Al Dhaid). Su-Th 9am–5.30 pm, F 2pm-5.30pm, Sa 11am–5.30pm, Tu closed. It has three components spread over one square kilometre: the Natural History Museum, Arabian Wildlife Centre and the Children’s Farm. The museum provides people of all ages with an opportunity to learn about the flora and fauna of the Arabian Desert and has five main exhibition halls: A Journey through Sharjah, Man and the Environment, A Journey through Time, The Living Desert and The Living Sea. The Arabian Wildlife Centre showcases the rich diversity of fauna in the Arabian Peninsula as well as teaching about species which have become, and are becoming, extinct. It contains more than 100 species of animals, and is divided into a reptile and insect house, aviary, nocturnal houses, viewing area and a section for large predators and monkeys. The children’s farm gives children a chance to come into close contact with farm animals, such as donkeys, goats, sheep and chickens. The park covers an area of 1 sq km.Adult: AED 15, child (12–16 years): AED 5, child (under 12): free.
- Fish Market, Corniche Road (opposite Blue Suq). Daily 5am-1pm.
- King Faisal Mosque, Al-Ittahid Square. This magnificent mosque was a gift of the Saudi Arabian King Faisal. It was opened in 1987 and has space for 15,000 people. There are separate prayer rooms for men and women and the mosque has an Islamic library with more than 7.000 books. Admission for Muslims only.
- Al-Qasba and Eye of the Emirates, Al-Taiwoon Road, Al-Chan Lagoon, 5560777. Sa-Th 10am-11pm, F 4-11 pm. Here you can enjoy culture, entertainment and leisure attractions representing the very best from the Arab world and beyond.
- Al-Mahattah-Museum, Estiqlal Square, 5733079. Sa-Th 8am-8pm, F 4-8pm. Al Mahatta was the first airport in the Gulf region. It opened in 1932 as a staging post for commercial flights from Britain to India. There is an interesting film about the daily life at the airport and Sharjah town in the 1930s and four original propeller planes stand in the hangar. Adult: AED 5, family: AED 10, child: free.
Things to do
- Jetskiing is very famous around summer time in the Khalid Lagoon.
- F1 Boat Races happen around the man-made island in the Buhaira Corniche sometime around December.
- Qanat al Qasba has a beautiful mosque right by the canal.
- From Al Qasba there is a ferry that gives a boat tour around Sharjah.
- Several different yearly festivals take place, and each one is a wonderful cultural experience. There are many fun activities at these festivals such as camel rides, henna, delicious Arabian foods and dishes, and much more.
- In celebration of the date season, which runs from mid-May to mid-August, the Date Festival is held at the Fruit and Vegetable Market from May 15 to August 15.
Things to know
As in the rest of the UAE, Arabic is the official language, with most residents actually speaking other languages entirely - particularly Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog. English is widely spoken in shops, souqs, and hotels.
The UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday's holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.
The Ruler of Sharjah ordered the establishment of several cultural institutions. The projects covered conservation of cultural heritage, active interaction with other cultures, construction of museums and the other cultural, scientific and artistic centres in the Emirate and the setting up of a television satellite channel that reflects and projects the value of culture.
In 1998, Sharjah was awarded the ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ title by UNESCO representing the United Arab Emirates.Sharjah has kept the spirit of its history alive by indicatively incorporating tradition into every aspect of contemporary development.
Safety in Sharjah
Generally speaking, Sharjah is a safe place. Women are usually stared at in certain parts of the city, so bring a male relative or friend to be safe.
- Al Zahra Private Hospital, Al-Zahra Sq., Al Ghuair, phone 5619999,5613311