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Book a flight to Sharjah with Qatar Airways and you’ll be embarking on a holiday to a city that effortlessly combines traditional culture and modern life. With its beautiful and detailed architecture, you’ll get a faint whiff of the city’s heritage, but nothing compared to what you’ll unearth if you take the time to explore those areas that are slightly off the beaten track.
UNESCO has bestowed Sharjah with the title of The Culture Capital of the Arab World. However, if you’d prefer to enjoy the 21st Century-side of Sharjah, you’ll find that there’s plenty in store. In addition, you’ll also notice just how phenomenally clean the city is! Flights to Sharjah with Qatar Airways give you the chance to get to grips with a city where the exotic, the ancient and the contemporary sit effortlessly, side by side.
Ramadaniat al-Qasba is one of the must-see destinations on any trip to Sharjah. Take a wander down Silk Street and within minutes you’ll notice the architecture becoming more traditional and detailed and you’ll suddenly hear the voices of the scholars who lecture there in the Eiman Oasis. This really is worthwhile, if you want to soak up the ancient Islamic culture in its living and breathing incarnation.
You can gain a deeper understanding of a city’s culture by immersing yourself in its art. The Sharjah Art Museum is the largest in Gulf, with an extensive collection of works from modern, Oriental, and Arabic artists. Occasionally, you’ll find solo exhibitions on show, which give a particular perspective on Arab life.
Alternatively, if you like things a bit livelier, seek out the Blue Souk. The largest of Sharjah’s souks, it’s housed under a bright blue-tiled roof, which houses over 600 shops! Whatever you’re looking for on your trip to Sharjah, this is the place to get it.
Despite its rich cultural backdrop, the city has plenty to offer the modern tourist. If you travel to Sharjah with children, then don’t panic! There’s plenty for younger visitors, such as the Arabian Wildlife Centre, which is on your way to or from the airport. There you’ll see native flora and fauna, including reptiles, nocturnal animals and big cats, all housed in a temperate building.
Alternatively, the Planetarium, close to Sharjah Bridge offers unparalleled views of the night sky and is a perfect place for star-gazers of any age.
However, if you want to really get a taste of what Sharjah has to offer in the Modern Age, then you really must head to Al Qasba, the city’s most extraordinary entertainment complex. Whether you want to soak up the view from the Eye of Emirates Wheel, relax by the Musical Fountains or even hire a Sharjah River cruise, this is the place to go.
You can’t take a trip to Sharjah and not visit one of the beaches in the region. These are beaches at their best; splashed with sunshine, caressed by crystal waters and with cream-coloured sand. You can laze and gaze or get involved in the huge variety of watersports available, from scuba diving to jet-skiing. The Al Corniche and the Al Khan beaches are among the best.
Food is an important part of Arabic culture, from the dark, earthy coffee served in shops and cafés, to the huge variety of dishes on sale. You’ll find traditional food sold in souks and more refined meals served in the many restaurants throughout the city.
Wherever you choose to eat on your trip to Sharjah, there are a few dishes worth setting aside some time for. Dabeli is a dish of smashed potatoes served in a spicy tomato and onion gravy and wedged between two slices of thick, buttered pav – a cross between a stew and a sandwich!
Bhel Puri shows the best examples of the Oriental and Arabic influences in Sharjah’s cuisine. You’ll be served a veritable haystack of rice, fried threads of garam flour, potatoes, pomegranate seeds and fragrant coriander and then surrounded with a banquet of chutneys and sauces to add as you like.
While there’s plenty for vegetarians, you’ll also find lamb dishes too. The meat is used in thick, fragrant and spicy curries, such as fruity masalas and the spicier vindaloos.
Shopping is a cultural experience in the United Arab Emirates and your trip to Sharjah wouldn’t be complete without visiting a souk. Souks are a gabbling, colourful, aromatic carnival, where you can pick up practically anything. While the Blue Souk might be the most eye-catching, the most famous of Sharjah’s bazaars is the Central Souk.
This is an evocative maze of tunnels and streets split over two levels and thick with the smells of coffee, spices and grilling meats. It’s well known for its astonishing range of carpets, but you can also find interesting, hand-crafted goods, such as models of Arab dhows, intricate jewellery and beautiful, beaded bags.
Sharjah is a predominantly Muslim city so, while the locals are welcoming and warm, there are a few cultural observances worth taking into account.
Women taking a trip to Sharjah should dress modestly, particularly when visiting holy sites.
Flights to Sharjah will bring you into Sharjah International Airport, which is well-served by buses, taxis and car-hire services.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Sharjah please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: UAE Dirham (AED)
Voltage: 220 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type G
Language: Arabic / English
International dialing code: +971