Sharjah: The Smiley Emirate
Dubbed the happiest of the seven emirates, just up the coast from the most populous, Dubai, is the quieter neighbour, Sharjah. This magnificent paradise has been given its esteemed appellation because of its most distinguishing feature – a friendly and welcoming sense of hospitality. Even the UN reports say so. Considering the city’s levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, and freedom, it ranks number one in the Arab countries and 21st in the world.
It’s no wonder that Sharjah is loved by its people and is a popular choice of holiday destination when it comes to international travel. Its rich and beautiful contemporary cultural identity, breathtaking beaches, vivacious spirit, and distinctive cuisine are just the tip of the iceberg. Sharjah also boasts a thriving art scene, is a shopping mecca, and a true paradise with its original natural beauty preserved.
Especially over recent years, Sharjah has risen to prominence as an attractive holiday location for the whole family.
Sharjah’s development is a lesson in history, a world where both old and new coexist and complement each side of the city. A city of contrasts, ancient and modern, energetic, and peaceful, Sharjah still features the many eras of its civilization today. From the expansive untouched deserts to the antique souk markets bursting with passed down culture and tradition, to the urban landscape of zooming sportscars and soaring skyscrapers.
Sharjah tells the tale of both bygone and futuristic architecture. A walk through the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation is like time traveling. It is magnificent and monumental in its structure – with its prominent dome in the centre of the building, colourful façade, towering arch entrance and is a journey through time, exploring the history of Islamic culture and religion, dating back centuries.
Fast forward to the future with a visit to the urban Al Majaz Waterfront. An attraction for the whole family, the retail and entertainment venue is a destination consisting of many exciting activities. From miniature gold and fine dining to concerts and festivals, and of course the signature element of the property, the Sharjah Musical Fountain before the mesmerising waterfront, Al Majaz is the epitome of modern Sharjah.
The year round sunshine and pristine beaches make a perfect waterfront holiday for adults and children alike. Ranging from 28 to 39 degrees, a refreshing dip into the crystal clear waters is the best way to cool down from soaring temperatures. The Sharjah coast is home to several beaches including Al Kahn, Ajman Beach and Al Noor Island for water sports and lounging on soft, fine, golden sand. Aside from the natural beauty, manmade water attractions are also an exciting thrill. With kid-friendly waterparks like Pearls Kingdom at Al Montazah, experience some of the most exhilarating rides and slides.
For a breath of fresh air, head to the Sharjah National Park to experience Emirati nature. Sprawling over 630 kilometres, this public park for locals and tourists showcases the homogeneity between Arab architecture infused with contemporary European styles. Spend the day under the sun with a picnic or barbecue against the beautiful backdrop of infinite green space dotted with duck ponds and water fountains. Cycle through the park and catch a breeze before breaking from the tracks under the shade at one of many children’s jungle gym playgrounds with slides and swings. Take a wander through the miniature park which models beautiful Sharjah with replicas of landmarks of the city.
Much like the rest of the city, Sharjah’s retail offering is one that embodies both old and new as well. The shopping paradise consists of both old souk markets and giant malls, but the most famous place is one that stands for both, The Souk al-Markazi (also known as the central market or Blue Souk for its distinctive hue on the walls of its exterior). A notable site for its Arabic grandeur and British influence, the building captures characteristics of a traditional bazaar on a grand scale. Consisting of two large structures with exuberant vaults and a unique skyline, within are over 600 individual shops. Find merchants selling gold, jewellery, gems, perfumes, apparel, electronics, cosmetics, homeware and of course souvenirs and gifts all under one roof.
Inject a little art and culture on a trip to Sharjah by visiting the Sharjah Art Foundation and Sharjah Arts Museum. The former is one of the largest platforms in the whole of UAE for fostering and promoting international contemporary artists to exhibit their works. The multiple single storied buildings of varying heights come together to form a unique maze-like geometric work of art. To enjoy local and historic art, Sharjah Arts Museum is a collective of artworks portraying Arab culture and heritage. Housing permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum focuses on regional art from UAE and the Middle East. View the works up close, from old sculptures and ceramics to modernist paintings and mixed media works, and experience the creative talent in the heart of Sharjah.
With a distinct climate, Sharjah cleverly implemented what they lack. In the hottest and emptiest months in the summer, the Sharjah Art Foundation presents an installation like none other, The Rain Room. With 2,500 litres of self-cleaning, recycling water, the contemporary art allows for viewers to experience an immense pour down. The magical experience is considered one of the best attractions in the city, making it a permanent fixture of the Art Foundation. The most intriguing thing about the whole experience is that it is cleverly designed and fitted with motion sensors, allowing for a dry walk through a heavy shower.
The largest emirate of the UAE may not be the flashiest in comparison, but Sharjah’s charm comes from its heritage, cultural centres, waterfronts, and family-friendly attractions, making the smiley emirate the most welcoming and hospitable for travellers.
For travellers visiting Sharjah looking for a bespoke adventure, The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah, UAE offers its guests personalised tours to see the sites. The team at the luxury hotel are true ambassadors of their native country and will curate the ultimate itinerary to cater to the interests of the whole family. From arranging private transportation to get from one place to another, pre-purchasing tickets to attractions, or even recommending dining and entertainment options, The Chedi Al Bait is always on-hand and ready at your service.