11 ways to explore the Emirate
For visitors to the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) there is plenty to see and explore around the emirate, but what can you really achieve in 11 days? With our helpful guide we have picked some popular and unexplored gems that will make your stay even more of an experience and showcase what Sharjah has to offer.
Things to do
Get inspired at the Sharjah Art Foundation
One of the first things to do when visiting Sharjah, is to check out the Sharjah Art Foundation. Here you can see a variety of exhibitions and pieces that reflect the melting pot of the UAE and its blossoming art scene. Regular workshops and talks are held and there are even courses on pottery, sketching and working with recycled materials.
Feel the beat of the city in the Heart of Sharjah
One of the most recent and impressive developments in the emirate, the Heart of Sharjah lets you explore and see where the first families of the city settled and the traditions of the Emirate began. The narrow alleyways, old buildings, market places and traditional homes make for a truly immersive experience. The area is home to several souqs including Souq al Arsah, the oldest market place in the UAE and the number of art galleries and exhibitions you can visit in this wonderfully designed area is impressive (The Sharjah Art Museum and the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum should get you started). A great way to get a feel for Sharjah and what it means to the people of this city.
Wander around the Blue Souk
As one of the most photographed buildings in Sharjah, the Blue Souk has some impressive architectural details for a shopping mall. There are over 600 stores selling a variety of goods such as clothing, carpets and numerous souvenirs. You will also get the chance to see Sharjah’s gold souk which takes up one of the floors at the Blue Souk and offers an incredible insight into the importance of this trade in the region. Even if you don’t pick up any gifts to bring home, it’s certainly worth exploring.
See Sharjah from a different perspective at Al Qasba
Qanat Al Qasba or Al Qasba, as it is affectionately known, is a collection of restaurants and attractions located along a beautiful canal. It’s a great spot to get a bite to eat, stroll down the waterways and visit the Maraya Art Centre. The Maraya Art Centre contains three floors of exhibitions ranging from paintings to digital pieces.
Al Qasba’s main attraction is the Eye of the Emirates. Standing over 60m tall, you can’t miss it! The Ferris Wheel offers amazing views of Sharjah and the rest of the Emirate.
Walk along the Al Majaz Waterfront
Al Majaz Waterfront is one of the best ways to see Sharjah and its residents at this popular destination. It is a great go-to spot for breakfast, lunch or even a late night cup of coffee. The Waterfront is complemented by the Sharjah fountain, which rises over 100m and is an attraction worth experiencing. There is also a 750m running track that runs along the waterfront, which is a perfect spot for a jog if you ask us.
Discover a new culture at Al Noor Mosque
Opened in 2005, Al Noor Mosque is the first Mosque in Sharjah that has been opened to the expatriate community and is a great place to learn about the culture of the UAE and its main religion, Islam. Built by order of the wife of the ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed al Qassimi, the construction of the Mosque started in 2003 and was completed 2 years later in 2005.
Every Monday there is a tour of the Mosque and a chance for you to interact with the local population and ask any questions you may have about the UAE and the region.
Go under the sea at the Sharjah Aquarium
After a busy day, the Sharjah Aquarium is a great place to go to immerse yourself in the tranquillity and peace that aquariums offer. Situated in the Al Khan Old Area, it offers a fascinating insight into the colorful and diverse world of marine life. With over 150 species of aquatic life in a variety of environments, the Sharjah Aquarium is also highly educational, teaching its visitors the importance of conservation and protecting our planet’s water sources.
Revisit the past at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
If you have ever wanted to learn about Islam and its history, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization is a well curated and informative institute, located in a beautiful converted souq on the Sharjah waterfront (don’t forget to look up at the central dome to catch the zodiac mosaic!). Spanning 1400 years, the museum shows visitors a variety of different aspects of the Islamic faith and an overview of Arab accomplishments in mathematics, science and astronomy. Islamic art is also heavily featured throughout the museum and goes as far back as the 7th century AH / 13th century AD.
Go off-road at Fossil Rock
Jebel Maleihah or Fossil Rock, as it is now affectionately known, got its name from the amount of marine fossils that were discovered on its slopes. You can visit fossil rock and try your hand at hunting for fossils and also enjoy a variety of activities. Activities to explore include ATV riding, Quad Biking, Hiking or even an overnight camp spent beneath the stars.
Pay a visit to Bait Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamad Al Qasimi in Kalba
A former home of Sheikh Saeed and his family, this is perhaps one of the best examples of a heritage house in the UAE. Located near the Al Kalba fort, the home takes you through the history of the Emirate and is the great reflection of the Emirati architectural style. The fantastic view of the beach and lush green surroundings are definitely worth taking in.
Walk on the wild side at the Arabian Wildlife Centre
For a great day out, head to the Arabian Wildlife Centre, located in Sharjah’s Desert Park on the outskirts of the city. It has one of the world’s largest collections of Arabian wildlife and is the only zoological destination in the Middle East that is completely indoors. A wonderful way to see how diverse the region’s wildlife is.
Places To Eat
As a multicultural city, Sharjah has an extensive range of places to eat. Here are some of our favourites that are definitely worth exploring
If you want to sample some traditional Emirati dishes, Milas ticks all the boxes. What’s great about this place is that it offers you an authentic Emirati experience, from the fresh, homely food to the perfumes that are given to you at the end of the meal. If you are not sure of what to have, the iPad menus give you a good overview of what you can eat before you commit. Don’t forget to try the Karak tea!
Al Gahwa al-Shaabiya
Being the first in the emirate, Al Gahwa al-Shaabiya is over 70 years old and is an extremely popular traditional coffeehouse overlooking the Majaz lagoon.
The perfect place for some dessert and fresh coffee, Paper Fig is a small but popular café run by an Emirati couple, Ahmed Al Mazrouei and Nawal Al Nuaimi. The most popular dish is their French Toast and the Date Pudding with caramel, and is a great excuse to order a second treat!
Located on the Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Manza is an upscale Moroccan restaurant whose food matches the looks of this great venue. Delicious tagine and fluffy cous cous are a must have and go perfectly with a mint tea afterwards to unwind.
Sharjah Dhow Restaurant
Perhaps the best place to go on your last evening in Sharjah, the Sharjah Dhow Restaurant is situated on a genuine dhow boat that is docked near the Sharjah Corniche. With authentic Arabic food that is well presented and very tasty, this is the place to go for seafood, grilled meats and mezze. The large portions and reasonable prices make it a popular spot and the perfect place for you to reflect on your time in Sharjah, as you can watch the sun set over the Emirate.
Modern Lebanese restaurant overlooking the Al Qasba Canal. The Soujouk is highly recommended here.
Mushmaool Arabic Grill Restaurant
Very popular restaurant that does the basics well with delicious food and fast and reliable service. Plenty of choice and don’t forget to try the waffle fries!
For some great Indian food, head to Gazebo, which covers the regions of Lucknow, Hyderabad and the Northwest. The dum biryanis should be ordered without question, and there is a popular selection of kebabs, curries and tandoori available in a modern, comfortable setting.
Famous for its handi dum biryani, Katis is more known for its food than interiors, but this is a seriously great place for some delightful Indo-Chinese food on a budget.
This Goan restaurant is a favourite for foodies across the UAE. Popular dishes include the crab masala and piri piri chicken.