14 best sights in Sharjah – descriptions, photos, map

What to see in Sharjah – top sights

The sights of Sharjah are often compared to the pearls of the Arabian Peninsula. Sharjah is a small but modern and cozy city, spread out on the coast of the Arabian Sea. Despite the fact that Dubai is nearby, many travelers prefer to stay here. The main reason is that Sharjah surprisingly enough place and the historical sites (which is quite a rarity in the UAE), and the huge shopping centers and snow-white beaches.

Attractions in Sharjah

In contrast to the modern Dubai, here is a simple, laconic buildings, as well as museums and many cultural centers. Just mosques alone there are more than 600. Sharjah has a variety of interesting places to visit on your own, and there is plenty to see.

When traveling to Sharjah, be aware that it is quite a “dry” city, where it is forbidden to drink alcohol, no hookah houses and must wear closed clothes.

Attractions

Historically, Sharjah is one of the richest cities in an already poor country and has many places of interest. The city is often referred to as the crown jewel of the United Arab Emirates. What is worth seeing on your own in Sharjah?

Al Noor Mosque

Al Noor Mosque (translated from the Arabic as ‘prostration’) is probably the most famous attraction of the Emirate of Sharjah. It is a beautiful and picturesque building of white marble, built in the likeness of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Like the ancient Turkish temple, the Al Nour Mosque has 34 domes and is open to tourists. It was built in 2005 and named after the son of the Emir of Sharjah, Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi. During the construction of the landmark the most modern technologies and materials were used.

Al Nour Mosque

The interior decoration of the Muslim temple is also striking in its beauty and luxury: the walls are lined with natural stone and painted by local artists. Traditionally, the mosque has two prayer halls: the men’s (for 1800 people) and the women’s (for 400 worshippers) one.

Al Noor Mosque

At night, the snow-white building becomes even more spectacular: the light turns on and the mosque gets a brilliant golden hue. By the way, next to the attraction in the evening works light fountain, which is also worth seeing.

Al Nour Mosque is open to all comers: not only Muslims can come here, but followers of other religions as well. When visiting the temple on your own, you should remember the following rules: you can not eat, drink, hold hands, talk loudly and wear open clothes in the mosque.

Al Noor Mosque

Al Nour Mosque is one of the first places to see in Sharjah.

  • Location: Al Mamzar Corniche St., Sharjah.
  • Opening hours: Monday 10.00am to 12.00pm (for tourists and tourist groups), services at other times.
  • Features: Dark, closed clothes are necessary.

Mleiha Archaeology Center

Mlekha is a small town in the Emirate of Sharjah, recognized by historians as the oldest archaeological site in the Arab Emirates. The very first artifacts were found not so long ago: in the 90s, when they were laying a water pipeline. Today, the Mlekha Center of Archaeology stands on this spot. The tourist site is not very popular yet, as it was only opened in 2016. However, the authorities plan to turn it into a center for tourism and archaeology.

Mleiha Center for Archaeology

The Mlekha Archaeology Center is a huge complex, which includes many buildings. Firstly, it is the main museum building, which houses all the artifacts: pottery, jewelry, tools. Secondly, it is a huge fort in which archaeologists have found several ancient tombs and many treasures. Thirdly, it is an ordinary residential houses: many of them are historical monuments, and it will be interesting just to walk around the town.

Artefacts in a Museum

It is also worth seeing the valley of caves and the camel cemetery for yourself. For a fee, you can visit a real excavation: talk to archaeologists and dig.

  • Location: Mleiha City, Sharjah, UAE.
  • Opening hours: Thursday to Friday 9 am to 9 pm, other days 9 am to 7 pm.
  • Ticket price: adults – 15 dirhams, teenagers (12-16 years old) – 5, children under 12 – free of charge.

Sharjah Classic Car Museum

What else is there to see in Sharjah (UAE)? The first thing many people will say is the car museum. This is a huge showroom, which collected cars from different eras and countries. A total of about 100 rare cars and about 50 vintage motorcycles are on display. The two “oldest” models are the Dodge and Ford Model T, made in 1916. The “newest” cars rolled off the assembly line in the 1960s of the 20th century.

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Cars at Sharjah Classic Car Museum

During the tour, the guide will not only talk about the making of the cars, but also demonstrate how the various parts of the cars function. However, the exhibition hall is not the only place where you can see the rare vehicles on your own. Just step behind the museum building and you will see a huge number of broken, shabby and broken-down cars. All of them were also made in the 20th century, but just haven’t been restored yet.

  • Location: Sharjah-Al Dhaid Road, Sharjah.
  • Opening hours: Friday 4pm to 8pm, other days 8am to 8pm.
  • Cost: AED 5 for adults, free for children.

Arabian Wildlife Center

Arabian Wildlife Center is the only place in the UAE where you can see the animals of the Arabian Peninsula on your own. It is a huge zoo located near Sharjah Airport, 38 km from the city.

Arabian Wildlife Center

The animals live in spacious enclosures and can be watched through the huge panoramic windows. A big plus of the center is that tourists do not have to walk under the scorching rays of the sun, and can look at the animals from the cooler rooms.

In addition, near the wildlife center is a botanical garden, a children’s farm and ornithological fauna. On your own, you can visit all these places for free – it is already included in the ticket price.

  • Address: Al Dhaid Rd | E88, Sharjah Airport Road at interchange 9, Sharjah.
  • Opening hours: Sunday – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday (9am – 6pm), Friday (2pm – 6pm), Saturday (11am – 6pm).
  • Cost: 14 dirhams for adults, 3 for teenagers, free admission for children.
Al Majaz Dancing Fountains (Al Majaz Waterfront)

Al Majar Park is where the famous dancing fountains are located. You can see the attraction sitting on the waterfront, in one of the many cafes, or in the hotel nearby. In addition to the colorful fountains in the park there are many sculptures, a golf course, a mosque and several sites where concerts are periodically held.

Dancing Fountains of Al Majar

The dancing fountains have five show programs. The most famous and unusual is Ebru. It is an unusual performance created in the water marble technique by the show designer Garib Au. All 5 shows are shown daily (though they always show them in a different order).

  • Location: Al Majaz Park, UAE.
  • Show times: Shows start daily at 8pm and go every half an hour.
Buhaira Corniche promenade

Buhaira Corniche is one of the favorite places to relax for locals and tourists alike. There are spectacular panoramic views of Sharjah with towering skyscrapers, a Ferris wheel and cozy restaurants. Experienced travelers advise taking an evening stroll here after a hot day. At this time, all the buildings are beautifully illuminated, and the palm trees complete the picture.

Buhaira Corniche promenade

Locals recommend renting a bicycle so you can explore the city on your own. If you come here in the daytime, you can sit on the grass and relax. The promenade is a great place to start your journey: almost all the attractions are nearby.

Where to find: Bukhara St, Sharjah, UAE.

Museum of Islamic Civilization

If you think you’ve seen it all and don’t know what else you can see on your own in Sharjah, head over to the Museum of Islamic Civilization.

Museum of Islamic Civilization

All the exhibits touching upon the culture of the East have been collected here. This includes ancient works of art, banknotes from different epochs, antique items of everyday life. The building is divided into six parts. The first one is Abu Bakr gallery. Here you can see Koran and see for yourself the most outstanding models of Islamic architecture. This part will be especially important and interesting for Muslims as it tells about the role of Hajj in the life of believers and the five pillars of Islam.

The second part is the Al-Haifam Gallery. Here you can see for yourself how science developed in Muslim countries and get acquainted with various household items. The third section of the museum is a collection of ceramics, clothing, woodwork and jewelry from different eras. In the fourth section, you can see all the artifacts dating back to the 13th-19th centuries. The fifth section of the attraction is dedicated to the 20th century and the influence of European culture on Muslims. The sixth section contains gold and silver coins from different eras.

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Exhibits in the museum

In addition, various exhibitions and creative meetings are often held in the center of Islamic civilization.

  • Location: Corniche St., Sharjah, UAE.
  • Opening hours: Friday – 4pm – 8pm, other days 8am – 8pm.
  • Cost: 10 Dirhams.
Sharjah Aquarium

One of the most spectacular sights in Sharjah is the huge city aquarium located on the shores of the UAE Bay. It is an amazing structure in many ways.

Sharjah Aquarium

Firstly there are over 250 species from the Indian Sea and the Arabian Gulf, including a variety of fish, seahorses, prawns and turtles. There are even moray eels and sea sharks. Secondly, for a fee, you can feed the fish and other inhabitants of the aquarium yourself. Thirdly, each screen has a special display, where you can learn interesting facts about each inhabitant of the sea.

Next to the aquarium is a playground and a souvenir shop.

  • Location: Al Meena St, Sharjah, UAE.
  • Opening hours: Friday – 16.00 – 21.00, Saturday – 8.00 – 21.00, other days – 8.00 – 20.00.
  • Cost: adults – 25 Dirhams, children – 15 Dirhams.
Maritime Museum

Like many cities with access to the sea, Sharjah has been alive since ancient times thanks to the water: people catch fish, build ships and trade. Archaeologists have found so many marine artefacts that a museum was founded in 2009. It is a grandiose structure with many halls. Among the interesting exhibits are many models of ships, different kinds of shells (they were often used as dishes) and a reconstructed ship’s cabin with goods that were carried to other parts of the world (spices, fabrics, gold).

Maritime Museum, Sharjah Exhibits in the museum

In the maritime museum you can also see how the pearl fishermen harvested real Arabian pearls: how they identified the shells, weighed the precious mineral and made jewelry from it. In the exhibition you can see a number of pearl catching tools.

  • Location: Hisn Avenue, Sharjah, UAE.
  • Opening hours: Friday 4.20pm – 8pm, other days 8am – 8pm.
  • Cost: Admission fee applies from the Aquarium.

Prices on the page are for August 2018.

There is definitely something to see in this city – the sights of Sharjah will not leave anyone indifferent, will surprise even seasoned travelers.

Author: Maria Protasenya

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14 Major Sights in Sharjah

Attractions in Sharjah - UAE

While Dubai delights with lots of flashy high-rise buildings and shopping malls, neighboring Sharjah uses a more subtle method to attract tourists, which allows you to focus on the culture and history of the emirate, forgetting the glitz of luxury.

Some travelers are put off by its conservatism (the emirate has a “dry law”; you can’t buy alcohol anywhere), but if you can spend a day or two without beer, Sharjah is a great option to visit.

It is home to some of the country’s best museums and art galleries: attractions in the Sharjah Emirate include the renovated Sharjah Heritage Area and the astonishing Mleiha Archaeological Site.

This Emirate is one of the UAE’s most committed to heritage conservation. It is for this reason that in 1998 UNESCO declared Sharjah the Cultural Capital of the Arab World, and in 2014 it reaffirmed its title and became the capital of Islamic culture.

Sharjah Art Museum

Sharjah Museum of Fine Arts

Sharjah Art Museum | Photo: gordontour / Flickr

Sharjah’s heritage and art districts are closely linked to one of the most dynamic art museums in the region; a real treat for dedicated visual arts enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. There are two galleries on the lower floors with ever-changing temporary exhibitions of internationally renowned exhibits.

Upstairs is a permanent exhibition of masterpieces of Arab art that have been created since the late 19th century. The importance of the museum as one of the few places where such a vast collection of Arab art is on display is unquestionable.

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The most stunning pieces of the permanent collection can be found in the Barjeel Collection Wing – a collection of the most innovative and significant works by renowned Arab artists from the Barjeel Art Foundation.

Among them are “Palestinian Woman” by Lebanese artist Rafik Charouf, “Ten Weary Horses Speaking to Nothing” by influential Iraqi artist Kadhim Haider, the chaotic and colorful “Popular Quarter” by Egyptian artist Zeinab Abd El Hamid and three works by post-Surrealist Syrian-born Marwan.

Address: Sharjah Art Museum – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Sat – Thu: 8:00am – 8:00pm, Fri: 4:00pm – 8:00pm.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

Malekh Archaeological Center

Mleiha Archaeological Center.

If you thought the real history of the UAE began only after oil was discovered, you will see a lot when you visit the archaeological center and get a glimpse of the heritage available. Archaeological excavations at Mleiha indicate that ancient people passed through here on their way to Asia during the Paleolithic era.

A Neolithic community settled here later in 8000 BC and the area was successively inhabited during the Bronze, Iron and pre-Islamic periods. Spend an exciting day exploring historic sites.

The interactive Visitor Center, built around the large-scale Bronze Age tomb of Umm al-Nar, is a museum with many multimedia displays and information panels that provide information about the historical value of Malecha.

But to get a deeper understanding and learn about the archaeological finds from different eras collected from different parts of the desert, it is better to book an inexpensive tour of the Archaeological Center (150 dirhams per person).

You can also go mountain biking (from AED 90 per person) or hiking (from AED 60 per person). On any of the tours you will visit the main attractions.

History lovers must see the caves of Faya, where archaeologists found the earliest evidence of the presence of ancient man outside of Africa; the caves of the wadi and the spring, where the remains of the Neolithic cemetery were found; the tomb of Bronze Age Umm Al-Nar, as well as graves, the foundations of the fort, the palace and houses that belonged to the local population in the pre-Islamic era.

Malekhi’s location right on the transition point of the beige desert plains to the yellow and orange dunes is ideal for outdoor activities. The Malekhi Visitor Center offers four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle rides through the dunes (from AED 90 per person), mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, stargazing, and camping.

If you get hungry after your excursions, welcome to the fine restaurant (Dhs 35 to 80) which serves the most delicious homemade ginger drink that quenches your thirst perfectly.

Address: Mleiha Archaeological Centre – Malikha Road – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Fri – Fri: 9:00 – 21:00, Sat – Wed: 9:00 – 19:00.

Recommended time of visit: 2 – 3 hours.

Entrance: free of charge.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization

Sharjah Islamic Civilization Museum

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization | Photo: Derek Bruff / Flickr

Almost everything you would want to know about Islam is collected in this museum, located in the stunning old waterfront bazaar. The galleries on the first floor focus on various aspects of the Islamic faith, including rituals and the importance of the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) as well as scientific achievements of the Arab world, especially in mathematics and astronomy.

Walk through the upper floors and take a journey through 1,400 years of Islamic art history and artifacts. Don’t miss the mosaic with the signs of the zodiac inside the central dome. Photos and descriptions of this Sharjah landmark are perhaps some of the most recognizable to the world.

The curation of the collection is rather old-fashioned and requires renovation, but one cannot deny the beauty of the exhibits on display. In particular, in the first gallery you can see a cat-shaped smoker from 11th century Khorasan in eastern Iran and a magnificent collection of ceramic tableware. In the second gallery, look out for iron maces with heads of demons and cows. Audioguides are available for free in six languages.

Address: Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Fri: 4pm – 8pm, Sat – Thu: 8am – 8pm.

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Entrance: free of charge.

Al Noor Mosque

Al Nour Mosque

Al Noor Mosque | Photo: Hamza Hydri Syed / Flickr

One of the most beautiful of the 600 mosques in Sharjah, the Al Noor Mosque is built in the traditional Ottoman architectural style. It has a unique view of the Khalid Lagoon.

It is the only mosque in the Emirate open to non-Muslims. It can be visited as part of the free guided tours offered each week by the non-profit Sharjah Cultural Communication Centre.

The tour lasts about 45 minutes and includes an introduction to the mosque’s architecture and the traditions of Islam and the emirate. At the end, visitors can take pictures and have a free cup of gahwa (Arabic coffee).

Inside, the mosque is rather ascetic, so you might be disappointed with the decorations if you have already visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Visitors wishing to join the tour must dress modestly, women must wear the abaya (a woman’s gown similar to a mantle) provided, regardless of the clothes they are already wearing.

Address: Al Noor Mosque – Corniche Street – Sharjah – UAE.

Visiting hours: Mon: 10:00 – 11:00.

Recommended time of visit: less than 1 hour.

Entrance: free.

Al Majaz Waterfront

Al Majaz Embankment

Al Majaz Waterfront Photo: Jean Grey / Flickr

This park at the bottom of Khalid Lagoon is a favorite spot for strolling families, roller skaters and tourists coming in after sunset. The main attraction is the stunning views of the brightly lit high-rise buildings and the Al Nour Mosque across the promenade.

Children will love watching the Sharjah Fountain Show after dark, where a whimsical interplay of lasers, lights and water jets will keep them entertained for five minutes. Other activities will include a playground, camera obscura, boat rides and a park with mini golf.

There are also plenty of cafes and fast food outlets, all of which offer gorgeous views of the city from the upper terraces.

Address: Al Majaz Waterfront – Sharjah – UAE

Opening hours: 24 hours.

Recommended time of visit: 2 – 3 hours.

Entrance: free.

Sharjah Aquarium

Sharjah Aquarium

Sharjah Aquarium.

See sea creatures up close from the west and east coasts of the UAE – you don’t even have to get your feet wet. Moray eels hide, flying stingrays swim and jellyfish dance, recreating the nature of Dibba Rock, mangroves, coral reefs of Shark Island and other native fish habitats.

Address: Sharjah Aquarium – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 8:00 – 20:00, Fri: 16:00 – 21:00, Sat: 8:00 – 21:00.

Recommended time of visit: 2 – 3 hours.

Entrance: free of charge.

Sharjah Natural History Museum and Desert Park

Sharjah Natural History Museum & Desert Park

Sharjah Natural History Museum & Desert Park.

The Wildlife Centre combines four sites into a one square kilometre complex featuring, among other things, a Natural History Museum, Botanical Museum and Children’s Farm where children can feed the goats, camels and ducks and take pony and camel rides.

The main attraction, however, is the Arabia Wildlife Center. It is a zoo that showcases the variety of local fauna. Vipers, flamingos, wildcats, mongooses, hyenas, wolves plus the Arabian Oryx and the magnificent leopard are all waiting for you at the Center.

Visitors can watch most of the animals in the comfort of air-conditioned rooms through glass panels, which allows the zoo to operate year-round. There is a cafe on site, but you can have your own picnic. The park is located on Al Dhait Road (Highway E88), about 26 km east of Sharjah.

Address: Sharjah Desert Park – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Wed – Thu: 09:00 – 17:30, Fri: 14:00 – 17:30, Sat: 11:00 – 17:30, Sun – Mon: 09:00 – 17:30.

Recommended time of visit: 2 – 3 hours.

Entrance: free of charge.

Al Hisn Fort Museum

Sharjah Fort

The Sharjah Fort.

A row of cannons welcomes visitors to the beautifully restored Sharjah Fort (Hisn), built in 1823, which was reopened as a museum in 2015. After walking through its monumental gates, you will find yourself in several rooms with exhibits about the ruling Qasimi dynasty and the history of the fort’s construction.

Downstairs there is a circular prison tower, an old “infirmary” (a room used to dry dates) and plaques with fascinating information about the destruction of the fort in 1969 and its restoration in the 1990s.

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At the top is the Al Qebes Tower, which survived the destruction of the fort in the 1960s and then was moved 6 meters during the restoration because of the surrounding modern buildings.

Address: Al Hisn Fort Museum – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Fri: 16:00 – 20:00, Sat – Thu 8:00 – 20:00.

Recommended time of visit: 1 – 2 hours.

Entrance: free of charge.

Al Qasba Canal

Al Qasba Canal

Al Qasba Canal.

The pedestrian area along the canal is lined with cafes and entertainment areas for children including an outdoor amusement park and an indoor play area called Kids Fun House.

Not surprisingly, this place is very popular with families in the evenings. During a boat ride on the lagoon, you can see the city from the water. Come in the evening, but better not on Friday and Saturday if you don’t like large crowds.

Art lovers should also check out Tamila Schubert’s bright and cheery mural that adorns the pedestrian bridge over the canal, and head to the Maraya Art Center to visit the exhibition while you’re still in town.

Address: Al Qasba – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: 24 hours.

Bait Al Naboodah Museum

Bait Al Nabooda

Bait Al Naboodah Museum.

A fine example of early Emirati architecture, built in 1845. The house once belonged to the pearl merchant Obeid Al-Naboodah.

Note the teak columns (a unique architectural feature of this building) and the plasterwork framing the windows and niches.

One room houses exhibits on the history of trading in Sharjah, including pearls, while the other two rooms showcase traditional interiors to give you a better idea of the daily life of the local people in the mid-19th century.

Address: Bait Al Naboodah Museum – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Fri: 4.15pm – 8pm, Sat – Thu: 8am – 8pm.

Entrance: free of charge.

Sharjah Heritage Museum

Sharjah Heritage Museum

Sharjah Heritage Museum | Photo: Bertrand Duperrin / Flickr

This museum is important in demystifying the culture of the Emirate for visitors. Each of the five galleries focuses on a different aspect of local life, from religious values and rituals of birth and burial to wedding ceremonies, local fables and folk medicine.

Excellent informative signs in English will help you learn a lot. Many traditional items can be found here. Be sure to see a mannequin in an interesting costume (a belt of 307 dried goat hooves worn during the noban dance).

Address: Sharjah Heritage Museum – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Fri: 4pm – 8pm, Sat – Thu: 8am – 8pm.

Entrance: free of charge.

Al Noor Island

Al Noor Island

Al Noor Island.

Winding paths lead to this island past sculptures and gardens and across the bridge behind the Al Noor Mosque. The main attraction here is the Butterfly House where you can watch 20 species of butterflies flitting between the plants.

If butterflies are not to your liking, visit the park after sunset when the gardens are lit up like a magical fairyland with “shimmering meadow” and neon flowers, pink cacti and glowing silk trees.

Address: Al Noor Island – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Thu – Fri: 9:00 – 0:00, Sat – Wed: 9:00 – 23:00.

Recommended time of visit: 1 – 2 hours.

Sharjah Maritime Museum

Sharjah Maritime Museum

Sharjah Maritime Museum | Photo: Susanne Nilsson / Flickr

To explore the sea in the UAE, visit this charming museum, which features many traditional dhows (cargo ships) and exhibits on pearl diving and fishing equipment.

Address: Sharjah Maritime Museum – Sharjah – UAE.

Opening hours: Fri: 16:00 – 20:00, Sat – Thu 8:00 – 20:00.

Entrance: free of charge.

Kalba

Kalba

Kalba.

Kalba, the southernmost settlement in the United Arab Emirates, is a small town which sells fresh produce and has a fish market by the sea.

It is a wonderful place to walk and worth a visit to the Al-Hisn Museum (built as a fort 200 years ago) and the fully restored house of Sheikh Sayyid bin Hamad Al-Qassimi, which hosts exhibitions of musical instruments and traditional furniture.

To the south of the village is the Khor Kalba Reserve, home to some of the most northern mangrove swamps in the world. It is a paradise for birds, especially during the spring and fall migrations. Visitors can see rare white-collared kingfishers as well as reef herons and reed warblers. Trips to the reserve are made by rented boat or canoe.

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