In short, Sharjah is the anti- Dubai. Absolutely “dry” emirate, where there is no alcohol, hookah cafes and revealing clothes are not allowed. It is unrealistic to taste the sweet forbidden fruit here, which somehow enlightens and makes you open your eyes wider in search of other, alternative entertainment. Indeed, in this third largest emirate there is something to see.
Sharjah is considered the cultural capital of the country – an abundance of unique museums, galleries and theaters can do honor to more than one European city. Add to that the modern architecture and the traditional oriental souk market, where you can spend half a day wandering from stall to stall in search of a souvenir or a gold chain. Finally, Sharjah is the only emirate that is located on the Persian and Oman Gulfs, and at the same time borders on Dubai. Life and hotels are cheaper here, and all the entertainment of the latter is literally “under the nose”, so it is not surprising that, despite its conservatism, Sharjah is always popular among tourists.
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The beaches of Sharjah
The beaches in Sharjah are divided into free public and paid, owned by hotels. All can boast of a smooth sandy surface, a smooth entry into the water, a gentle bottom and cleanliness; the differences are only in the level of infrastructure and the amount of entertainment. In many places, the use of scooters and jet skis is allowed, and the swimming area is fenced with a rope. In September-October, it is better to avoid contact with colored jellyfish and stingrays – they are poisonous at this time.
Every Monday on the beaches of Sharjah there is a “Women’s Day”: men are not allowed to appear on them. For ladies, there are limitations: it is not customary to take sunbathing topless, so as not to attract too much attention.
Al Khan Beach and Lagoon, located between Sharjah and Dubai, is popular with active tourists riding jet skis, as well as lovers of a relaxing beach holiday. On weekends, locals come here to swim, and it is not easy to find a free place. Entrance fee – 5-50 AED, for 20 AED you can get another sun lounger and umbrella.
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Al Corniche is a beautiful public beach surrounded by palm trees that provide shade on a hot day. “There is nowhere for an apple to fall” is not about this place, because thanks to the wide coastline it is enough for everyone. Sometimes undercurrents appear here, but you should not be afraid of them: the authorities warn tourists by installing special signs. And the locals even ride boards in these whirlpools.
Diving in Sharjah
The east coast of Sharjah is the most attractive place in the emirate for diving enthusiasts, which attracts both beginners and professionals. The underwater world is rich in coral reefs, outlandish marine life and its own attractions. To the north of Khor Fakkan there is a unique cemetery of cars that were flooded here in the late 80s. Diving in the Martini Rock area, you can watch moray eels, seahorses and reef sharks, and then relax on the top of a mountain protruding from the water.
Both places of worship have diving centers offering both short excursions and full training.
The main places of attraction of life in the capital of the emirate are trading floors, where you can feel the real oriental flavor. Sharjah’s Al-Markazi Blue Market is also known as the “Golden Market” and is famous for its precious metal jewellery. There are souvenirs, sweets, carpets, cashmere shawls here. Lively trading begins after 17:00, when the heat subsides. You can bargain: some sellers are willing to throw off up to half the cost.
It is worth visiting the fish market early in the morning, when sailors offer their catch to merchants, at this time the goods are the freshest. 1 kg of shrimp or large fish will cost 45-55 AED. The only downside is that you can’t cook seafood on site. By the way, these are not the only bazaars of Sharjah, read about all the markets of the emirate here.
Travelers to Sharjah during Ramadan should take into account that shops and markets open only after sunset, and trade goes on until almost midnight.
In terms of “civilized” shopping, Sharjah is not inferior to Dubai. The largest shopping center – “Mega Mall” – is located in the city center. It presents clothes of the mass market and luxury brands, there is a food court, a cinema and a children’s entertainment room. In terms of area and variety, the Mega Mall is slightly inferior to the Sharjah City, Al-Fardan and Sahara shopping malls. Traditional souvenirs can also be bought on the shopping streets of King Faisal, Al Wadha and Jamal Abdul Nasser.
Cuisine and Restaurants in Sharjah
Unlike restaurants in Dubai, prices in Sharjah establishments are lower, and the quality of food remains at the same level. Here you should get acquainted with the Emirati cuisine, which can be briefly described as follows: a lot of meat and cakes.
The sale of alcohol is prohibited throughout the emirate. Strong drinks are served only in hotel bars. Also in city restaurants you can not find pork dishes.
Turning aside from the tourist streets, you can find dozens of eateries where locals dine. For a generous serving of kebab 35-45 AED or Arabic shawarma, they will ask for 25 AED. It is worth trying the traditional mutton sausages “nakanek” and chicken shish kebab “shish-tauk”. The average bill for two will be 30-50 AED.
Arabic coffee occupies a significant place in the local cuisine: the beans are roasted with cardamom, and the drink is served in small bowls, since it is not customary to drink it on the go. A cup costs about 15 AED. A special treat in Sharjah is dinner at a fish restaurant in the waterfront area. Many offer combo sets for the company: for example, seafood soup, two lobsters, a dozen shrimp and a bowl of rice will cost 200-250 AED. If you add the cost of drinks and desserts (baklava or sweet cheese pie), you get 300 AED at all.