Sharjah (Arabic: الشارقة) is the third largest city in the United Arab Emirates and the capital of Sharjah emirate. Sharjah is known for its Arabic and Islamic architecture as well as its libraries, Islamic museums, and cultural centers. The city is known as the cultural and literature hub of the United Arab Emirates. The city is rooted in its Arabic and Islamic heritage with many Umayyad and Abbasid-styled buildings and offers a glimpse of Arabic and Islamic environment in an otherwise largely westernized country. It is a major hub for family friendly environment and activities and has a more conservative atmosphere. The city has many green parks, apartment complexes, and a large community of Arabs from all the Arab world making the city an effective cultural meeting point for many different communities of Arabs.
In contrast to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Sharjah offers visitors a vastly larger view into Arabic and Islamic art, literature, and architecture. It's a usual destination for visitors who are looking for a cultural and a more local experience of Arabia and Islamic atmosphere compared to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
"Smile you're in Sharjah!"
A common slogan used around the city to describe the family friendly atmosphere of the city. The word Sharq (short form of Mashriq) means east in Arabic. Sharjah is east of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, thus its name. Its classical Arabic form is "Al Shareqah".
Sharjah is very closely connected to Dubai through the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area, with commuter traffic creating rush hour traffic jams. Many people live in Sharjah but work in Dubai to take advantage of lower rents, hence traffic from Sharjah to Dubai and Dubai to Sharjah is largely expected in rush hours.
The emirate is considerably larger than Dubai, with coastline on both west and east coasts of the peninsula, and with exclaves of Kalba, Khor Fakkan, and Dibba Al Hisn. The road to the east coast goes through rugged Al Hajar mountains. Public buildings in the Emirate are all in Umayyad and Abbasid architecture, and were all designed by the present Shaikh (a qualified architect). Therefore, the city offers a nice visual change and a more cultural atmosphere from the usual fare of skyscrapers in other Emirates.
The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism website [dead link] has sections on business, heritage, leisure, education, and coast.
As in the rest of the UAE, Arabic is the official language, although most residents speak other languages - particularly Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog. English is widely spoken in shops, souqs, and hotels.
For visa requirements to visit Sharjah, see the United Arab Emirates page.
- 1 Sharjah International Airport (SHJ IATA) (15 km 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. Also, Air India Express connects most larger airports in India to Sharjah—a good way to fly into smaller places directly, like Leh in Ladakh instead of going through Delhi first.
Getting there and away:
- By bus – Regular 24/7 buses (every ½-1 hr) run the distance of 20 km between the airport and Al Jubail Bus Station (Sharjah center aka Rolla)—10 dirham, cash only. From Al Jubail, you can connect to Abu Dhabi center (direct bus, 40-50 dirham), Abu Dhabi Airport via Ibn Battatu (see Abu Dhabi International Airport#By bus for details), Dubai (direct bus, 10-15 dirham), Dubai Airport via Deira City Center (red metro from there to the airport, less than 10 dirham with card possible). Remember that most bus transport in Sharjah seems cash-only. See below for more possible connections and the links to the transportation websites where you can find schedules. Also, Google Maps is good in suggesting connections.
- This seems to be out of date as of 2023: Public bus route 111 (10 dirham) runs hourly from the airport via Al Qusais Bus station to the Metro's Rashidiya station in Dubai.
- By taxi – To go to Dubai International Airport, this will set you back at around 100 dirham. But Dubai Airport, just 20 km by road away, has many more international connections and is the more popular gateway to UAE.
Bus travel to Dubai is possible via an inter-emirate bus service run by the Government of Dubai Road and Transport Authority. Most buses arrive at 2 Al Jubail 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 hr and costs 5 dirham. Timetables can be found at the RTA website.
Taxis are widely available. Taxis can travel from other emirates such as from Dubai to Sharjah or from Ajman to Sharjah and vice versa without any restrictions. Traveling from farther emirates such as Abu Dhabi or Ras Al Khaimah is also an option, but taxi fares may be costly. Ride-share applications such as Uber and Careem are also an option and can be used to travel across emirates. You may also call the government sponsored Sharjah taxi service [dead link] to request a taxis to come to your location.
It seems that most bus transport in Sharjah is cash-only.
Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) also offers express commuter bus service between Sharjah and Dubai. Check possible connections on their website—they require the nol smart card however, which can only be obtained in Dubai.
Licensed taxi companies are Sharjah, Emirates, Citi, Union, and Advantage. Taxi plates are reflective green, which helps to spot them at night. Flag fall is 3.50 dirham, then 1 dirham every 650 m—the minimum fare is 11.50 dirham. There is a surcharge of 20 dirham to go into Dubai.
- Heritage Area - Good overview available here including a few restoration of old houses. The Heritage is 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, ☏ . Sa-Th 8AM-2PM, F 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 5 dirham, family 10 dirham, children free.
- 1 [dead link] Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, ☏ . Sa-Th 8AM-8PM, F 4-8PM. 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. Also a comprehensive display of Arab handicrafts. Adult 5 dirham, family 10 dirham, children free.
- Bait al-Naboodah, Heritage Area, ☏ . Sa-Th 8AM-8PM, F 4-8PM. Adult 5 dirham, family 10 dirham, children free.
- Souq al-Arsah, Heritage Area. Sa-Th 9AM-1PM, 4-9PM, F 4-9PM only. Another souq worth a visit. It is considered to be the oldest souq in the country. Stop at the traditional coffee house for a mint tea and a plate of dates.
- [dead link] Sharjah Calligraphy Museum (Heritage Area), ☏ . Sa-Th 8AM-8PM, F 4-8PM. 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 5 dirham, family 10 dirham, children free.
- [dead link] Sharjah Heritage Museum (Heritage Area), ☏ . Sa-Th 8AM-8PM, F 4-8PM. A small museum about the history and habits of the emirate Adult 10 dirham, children 5 dirham.
- 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, ☏ . Sa-Th 9AM-1PM, 5-8PM; F 5-8PM. 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 10 dirham, children 5 dirham.
- Other museums also covers marine, natural history, aviation, and other valuable aspects http://www.sharjahmuseums.ae/[dead link].
- 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–5:30PM, F 2PM-5:30PM, Sa 11AM–5:30PM. It has three components spread over 1 km²: 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. Adult 15 dirham, child (12–16 years) 5 dirham, 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.
- [dead link] Al-Qasba Waterfront and Eye of the Emirates, Al-Taiwoon Road, Al-Khan Lagoon, ☏ . Sa-Th 10AM-11PM, F 4-11PM. Here you can enjoy culture, entertainment and leisure attractions representing the very best from the Arab world and beyond.
- Al-Mahattah-Museum, Estiqlal Square, ☏ . 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 5 dirham, family 10 dirham, child free.
- 2 Sharjah Aquarium, Al Meena Street,Al Khan Area,Near Sharjah Maritime Museum, ☏ . The Sharjah Aquarium first opened its doors in 2008. It features deep-sea creatures. Sharjah Maritime Museum gives you a close-up look at the local fishes and lets you learn about Sharjah's historic coasts and ports. 35 dirham per adult (13 and over), 25 dirham per child (age 2-12), below 2 yr free. 90 dirham family (2 adults + 3 children).
- Jetskiing is very famous around summer time in the Khalid Lagoon.
- F1 Boat Races happen around the human-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 including camel rides, henna, delicious Arabian foods and dishes.
- 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.
- Souq al-Arsa (in the Heritage Area). 10AM-1:30PM, 4-10PM. 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-1:30PM, 3-10PM. 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 and 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), ☏ . Sa-W 9AM-1PM, 4-8PM; F 4-8PM. Sweet dates, packed into small boxes, a nice souvenir.
- Sharjah Mega Mall, Immigration Road, ☏ . Sa-W 11AM-11PM, Th 11AM-1AM, F 2PM-1AM. Luxury shopping center with more than 140 international shops and the Lebanese Beyrouth Restaurant.
- City Center Sharjah (Al Wahda Road.), ☏ . Sa-W 10AM-10PM, Th 10AM-midnight, F 2PM-midnight. Luxury shopping center with a high class, multi-screen cinema.
- Sahara Center Sharjah (Al Nahda Interchange, Dubai-Sharjah Border), ☏ . Daily 10AM- 1AM. Sahara Center offers an enormous selection and variety of stores including fashion, sports, toys, cosmetics, jewellery, books, home furnishings and electronics among others. Some of the mall’s key anchor stores include Marina Exotic Home Interiors, Toys ‘R’ Us, Home Centre and Spinneys as well as entertainment such as Novo Cinemas and Adventureland.
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, ☏ . 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. 35 dirham/person.
- Seashells, Ahmed bin Dar-eish Square, Al-Chan Road (near Raddission SAS Resort), ☏ . 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 barbecue 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.
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.
- Holiday Inn Sharjah (in the heart of the Central Business District), ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: 2PM. 180 rooms, lobby lounge open 24 hr, Al Dana Dining Restaurant, health and fitness center, sauna, shuttle service to access the beach (distance: 2 km) Single or double 270-430 dirham.
- Lou' Lou'a Beach Resort, Al Mina Rd, ☏ .
- Al Reem Suites, Sharjah (Al Reem Hotel Apartments, Sharjah), Alqulayyah Sharjah (at Rashid Bin Khadim Square (opposite Khuthubah R/A), on the way to Ajman cornish Rd, very close to Radisson Blu resort), ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: 2PM. A well-furnished serviced apartment hotel. Rooms available at reasonable rates (monthly and daily basis). Room service available. Airport drop and pick up services, city tours and shopping centre drops are available upon request. Spacious and well arranged rooms. 180 to 350.
- Citymax, Wahda Rd, Abu Shagara District, ☏ . A nice hotel offering luxury mattresses, wide screen TV, 24-hr room service, vending machines on every floor, at very affordable rates located close to city's industrial, historic and shopping areas. Free cabled internet in rooms and free Wi-Fi in the lobby. A restaurant, a 24-hr coffee shop, sauna and separate gym for gents and ladies are also located inside the hotel building. 210-450 dirham.
- [dead link] Crystal Plaza Hotel Sharjah, #66496 Al Qasimeyah - Immigration Rd, ☏ . In the heart of Sharjah. This three-star property takes pride in its contemporary amenities and friendly services. For leisure breaks, Gold Souk, Mega Mall Sharjah, and Heritage Center are just a few minutes away. From 355 dirham.
- City Hotel, ☏ , CityHotel@emirates.net.ae. Inexpensive and in the centre of town between Rolla Square and Municipality Roundabout and 10-15 minutes walk from the bus/taxi station. Rooms contain a fridge.
- Sharjah Youth Hostel. Not a particularly appealing hostel; the furniture is run-down, the bathrooms are shady, the location is suburban and the clientele is mostly South Asian guest workers, rather than the typical hostel crowd. But it's by far the cheapest place to stay in town. There is no web-based reservation system. Send them an email and wait for the confirmation or call after sending the mail to confirm. Dorm 60 dirham.
- The Suites Hotel Apartments. It's in central Sharjah near the Majarah Souqe and close to the shopping areas. The Apartments are 15 minutes away from Sharjah airport and 30 minutes from Dubai International Airport and are available from around USD50 per night, a good option for groups or families.
- [dead link] Millennium Hotel Sharjah. One of the most luxurious hotels in the UAE and provides top class service and rooms. The hotel is usually full booked so it is always better to book before arrival.
- Al Mulla Hotel Suites, Buhaira Cornich, Opposite Marbelle Resort & Holiday Inn, ☏ . Costs about USD85 for a huge one-bedroom suite that comes with kitchen and living room - can fit about 4 people.
- Al Sharq Hotel, 10 Al Ghuwair St, Rolla Square (just in front of Rolla garden), ☏ . It's in front of Rolla Square, opposite the main shopping centres, and surrounded by government departments and close to the Corniche. Shuttle service to the beaches and shopping malls.
- Radission SAS Resort Hotel, Ahmed Bin Dareish Square, Corniche Rd, ☏ .
- Grand Hotel Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan al-Awal Rd, Al Chan Beach, ☏ . Double room city view 800 dirham, sea view 900 dirham, single room city view 700 dirham, sea view 800 dirham.
- 1 Holiday International Hotel (on the edge of Khaled Lagoon), ☏ .
- 2 Radisson Blu Resort, Sharjah, Corniche St, ☏ , email@example.com. Standing along the white-sand beaches of the Arabian Gulf, this five-star Radisson Blu Resort is close to Sharjah's historic features. Complimentary shuttle service to shopping areas in Sharjah and Dubai.
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, ☏ , .
- Bristol Medical Center, Juma Al Majid Building, Al Nahda, ☏ .
- University Hospital Sharjah, University City - University Street, ☏ .
- Zulekha Hospital, Al Zahra Street, ☏ .
- Elite Medical Centre, Al Meena Street, ☏ .
- The smallest emirate, Ajman, is Sharjah's northern neighbor.