Sharjah is the third largest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the only one to have land on both the Persian Gulf Coast and the Gulf of Oman. Sharjah is next to Dubai and is effectively a suburb of it, with commuter traffic creating rush hour traffic jams. Expatriates generally live in Sharjah and work in Dubai because cost of living is cheaper in Sharjah, but better jobs are in Dubai.
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 were all designed by the present Shaikh (a qualified architect), a nice visual change from the usual fare of skyscrapers in other Emirates.
The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism website has sections on business, heritage, leisure, education, and coast.
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.
For visa requirements to visit Sharjah, see the United Arab Emirates page.
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.
Public buses are by Sharjah Transport, [dead link] 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.
- 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.
- 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 Art Museum, ☎ 5688222. Sat to Thur 8am-8pm, Fri 4-8 pm only. The Sharjah Art Museum shows contemporary art by local and foreign artists. It is also the home of the Sharjah International Art Biennale, a bi-yearly exhibition of international contemporary art and performance. Free Admission.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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), ☎ 65599900. Check-in: noon, check-out: 2pm. 180 rooms, lobby lounge open 24 hrs, Al Dana Dining Restaurant, health and fitness centre, sauna, shuttle service to access the beach (distance: 2 km) single or double from AED 270 to 430.
- Lou' Lou'a Beach Resort, Al Mina Rd, ☎ 5285000.
- Al Reem Suites, Sharjah (Al Reem Hotel Apartments, Sharjah), Alqulayyah Sharjah, PO Box No: 66211, Sharjah (at Rashid Bin Khadim Square (opposite Khuthubah R/A), on the way to Ajman cornish Rd, very close to Radisson Blu resort), ☎ 065647700. Check-in: noon, check-out: 2 pm. 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, 24hr 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 Wifi 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. AED 210-450.
- Crystal Plaza Hotel Sharjah, #66496 Al Qasimeyah - Immigration Rd, ☎ . In the heart of Sharjah, less than one km from Mega Mall 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 AED 355.00.
- City Hotel, ☎ , e-mail: CityHotel@emirates.net.ae. Inexpensive and ideally located 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 currently no web-based reservation system. Send them an email and wait for the confirmation or call after sending the mail to confirm. Dorm 60 AED.
- The Suites Hotel Apartments. Located in central Sharjah near the Majarah Souqe and close to the shopping areas. The Apartments are only 15 minutes away from Sharjah airport and 30 minutes from Dubai International Airport and are available from around 50 USD per night, a good option for groups or families.
- Millennium Hotel Sharjah. Is one of the most luxurious hotels in the UAE and provids 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 85 USD 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, P.O. Box 20201, Sharjah (just in front of Rolla garden), ☎ . Situated just 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, ☎ 5657777.
- Grand Hotel Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan al-Awal Rd, Al Chan Beach, ☎ 5285557. double room city view AED 800, sea view AED 900, single room city view AED 700, sea view AED 800.
- Holiday Inn Sharjah (in the heart of Sharjah’s Central Business District), ☎ 65599900, fax: 65599909, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2pm, check-out: 12noon. Shuttle service to the beach (2 km away). double or single AED 270 to 400 (Sept 2010).
- Holiday International Hotel (on the edge of Khaled Lagoon), ☎ 65736666.
- Radisson Blu Resort, Sharjah, Corniche St, P.O. Box 3527, ☎ . Standing along the white-sand beaches of the Arabian Gulf, this five-star Radisson Blu Resort is located 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, phone 5619999,5613311
- The smallest Emirate, Ajman, is Sharjah's northern neighbor