Until recently the buzzing emirate of Sharjah was overlooked by visitors from the UK - even though it’s closer to Dubai Airport than Dubai’s Jumeriah Beach is. But if one was to cross the nearby border there’s a whole unique culture to explore. The third largest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it’s also one of the more conservative, while at the same time making significant steps to modernity.
As international tourism rises it’s becoming known as the beating heart of Islamic culture and history – and with excellent prices and good accessibility all-round there’s never been a better time to consider Sharjah for a trip.
Whether it’s a weekend city break or a dune-bashing trip you’re after, there are plenty of reasons to give it a go – and here are the Flexicover team's top picks.
It’s UNESCO’s Book Capital in 2019
Thanks to its many historical and cultural institutions, Sharjah has earned the title of UNESCO’s Book Capital this year. That’s not only because of its famed International Book Fair at the end of October, but also because of museums like the Calligraphy Museum, which takes a close look at the artistic stylings of the Arabic script. There’s also the Museum of Islamic Civilization in which you’ll find ancient Qurans displayed, with explanations of the holy book’s importance and style. For something more modern, head to the fabulously-designed Al Rawi café and bookshop on the Al Majaz Waterfront to enjoy a read and a coffee with lakefront views.
The weather is always fantastic
Sharjah’s neighbour of Dubai has earned a rightful reputation as a glorious place of guaranteed sunshine – and Sharjah is no different. With clear skies and sun practically every day it rains so little it’s not even worth worrying about. Throughout the year temperatures flit between the late 20s and the late 30s. So you’ll never go cold and if it’s too hot there’s always a building with cool air-con to dip into for some respite.
There’s desert activities a go-go
Sharjah city is the capital of Sharjah the emirate – but outside the cityscape there’s desert all the way to the opposite coast. That means whether you fancy a Bedouin-style dinner under the stars, or a crazy dune-bashing experience, it’s yours for the taking. We recommend a trip out to the Maleiha Archaeological Center. Much more than a stuffy museum, you’re taken out to the first site outside of Africa with evidence of human life, as these first nomads made their way to Europe. Their experience is brought to life with a look around the desert site that uncovers where they slept, hid their weapons and created their tools.
It’s very family-friendly
Because there’s low crime and a large emphasis on family activities, parents will immediately feel relaxed in Sharjah. To entertain the kids try the water park in the Al Majaz Waterfront, or the Aquarium which houses over 150 species of aquatic creatures. Or head to Al Noor Island to check out the Butterfly House - you’ll spot the unique building a mile off, though you’ll need a keener eye to spot the hundreds of butterflies fluttering around within the structure. If you can time your visit with the Sharjah Light Festival in February; this free, ten day event sees artists create impressive sound and light installations on Sharjah’s landmark buildings, plus there’s a huge fireworks display on the Al Majaz Waterfront to top it all off.
Wherever you plan on heading to this year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.