Sharjah Area Guide 2024

Dictricts Sharjah Area Guide 2024
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~15 min
01/26/2024
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Introduction

The Emirate of Sharjah, one of seven emirates of the UAE, boasts a rich cultural and historical significance within the Gulf region. Covering an expanse of 2,590 square kilometres and home to over 1,275 million people as of 2019, Sharjah encompasses the vibrant capital city that shares its name, along with various minor towns and exclaves like Kalba', Al Dhaid, Dibba Al-Hisn, and Khor Fakkan.

Situated on the northeastern coast of the UAE, Sharjah holds a unique position as the third-largest emirate, contributing significantly to the nation's cultural tapestry. Governed as an absolute monarchy and led by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi since 1972, Sharjah stands as a testament to resilience, with its ruler briefly yielding power only during a six-day period amid an attempted coup d'etat by his brother, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi.

History of Sharjah

Human settlement in the area of the Emirate of Sharjah dates back over 120,000 years, marked by the discovery of early tools and implements in locations such as Al Dhaid, Al Thuqeibah, Mileiha, Tell Abraq, Muwailah, Al Madam, and Jebel Faya. Archaeological evidence, notably found in the Mleiha area, indicates a historical connection to the spread of humanity from Africa to the wider world, as showcased at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre.

Historically, Sharjah stood as one of the wealthiest towns in the region, a testament to its economic prosperity. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Sharjah played a crucial role as a prominent pearl fishing port. In 1830, a British marine survey reported a bustling fishing industry with 'three to four hundred boats' during the season, generating substantial revenue for the ruler – 100,000 Maria Theresa Dollars.

In 1932, Sharjah gained further prominence with the establishment of a regular air service by Imperial Airways, making it an overnight stop on the Eastern British Empire route. The construction of Mahatta Fort during this period aimed to accommodate the airline's guests.

The turning point in Sharjah's modern history occurred on December 2, 1971, when Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed Al Qasimi joined Sharjah to the United Arab Emirates. However, in 1972, Sheikh Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi staged a leftist coup, resulting in the tragic demise of Sheikh Khalid. In the aftermath, Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi assumed power.

Geography and Environment

Sharjah, the third-largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, boasts a unique geographical position, being the only emirate with territories along both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Encompassing 2,590 square kilometres, equivalent to 3.3% of the UAE's total area (excluding islands), Sharjah is a diverse emirate that presents a tapestry of landscapes. The city of Sharjah, the emirate's seat, overlooks the Persian Gulf and lies approximately 170 km away from the UAE capital city, Abu Dhabi.

The emirate is characterized by a dynamic composition, comprising not only the bustling city of Sharjah but also various minor towns and enclaves. Notably, Sharjah shares borders with Dubai to the south and Ajman to the north, forming a conurbation of interconnected urban areas. Sharjah's strategic position is further emphasized by three enclaves on the east coast – Kalba, Dibba Al-Hisn, and Khor Fakkan – which provide the emirate with a significant east coast port, enhancing its maritime significance.

Sharjah experiences a hot desert climate, characterized by warm winters and extremely hot summers. Summer daytime temperatures range from 38 °C (100 °F) to 42 °C (108 °F), with occasional peaks surpassing 45 °C (113 °F) during July and August. In contrast, winter brings milder temperatures, with daytime averages rarely exceeding 30 °C (86 °F). Rainfall, generally light and erratic, occurs primarily from November to July, with the heaviest precipitation in February and March, contributing to the unique climatic conditions that shape Sharjah's landscape.

Subdivisions

  1. Sharjah City Municipality. The central and pivotal municipality, encompassing the vibrant and populous city of Sharjah.

  2. Al Bataeh Municipality. Featuring the city of Al Bataeh, this municipality contributes to the broader urban and suburban framework of the emirate.

  3. Al Dhaid City Municipality. Encompassing the city of Al Dhaid, this municipality plays a crucial role in the emirate's economic and cultural activities.

  4. Al Madam Municipality. Home to the city of Al Madam, this municipality adds to the diverse landscape of Sharjah, contributing to the region's unique character.

  5. Dibba Al-Hisn City Municipality. Incorporating the city of Dibba Al-Hisn, this municipality holds significance as a coastal area with strategic importance.

  6. Al Hamriya Municipality. Encompassing Al Hamriya, this municipality contributes to the emirate's economic and industrial activities.

  7. Khor Fakkan City Municipality. Highlighting the city of Khor Fakkan, this coastal municipality is of particular importance due to its location on the Gulf of Oman.

  8. Kalba City Municipality. Featuring the city of Kalba, this municipality contributes to Sharjah's prominence as an emirate with territories along both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

  9. Mleiha Municipality. This municipality includes Mleiha, adding to the emirate's cultural and historical richness.

Key Attractions

  1. Sharjah Art Museum. A vibrant hub showcasing a rich collection of contemporary and traditional art, providing insights into the cultural landscape of Sharjah.

  2. Sharjah’s Central Market. A bustling market known for its traditional architecture, vibrant stalls, and a wide array of goods, providing an authentic shopping experience.

  3. Al Noor Mosque. A stunning example of Islamic architecture, the Al Noor Mosque is known for its intricate design and serene ambiance, welcoming visitors and worshippers alike.

  4. Al Majaz Waterfront. A picturesque waterfront destination featuring landscaped gardens, restaurants, and recreational areas, offering a scenic escape along the Khalid Lagoon.

  5. Al Qasba. A vibrant cultural and entertainment center with a waterfront setting, featuring cafes, shops, and attractions like the Eye of the Emirates Ferris wheel.

  6. Sharjah Fort. A historical landmark showcasing traditional Emirati architecture, providing a glimpse into Sharjah's past and its strategic significance.

  7. Sharjah Aquarium & Maritime Museum. An educational and immersive experience highlighting the marine life of the Arabian Gulf, coupled with insights into the region's maritime history.

Tips for visiting include

  • Best Time to Visit. The cooler months from October to April are ideal for outdoor exploration.

  • Ticket Information. Admission fees may vary for each attraction. It's advisable to check official websites for the latest ticket prices and any available package deals.

  • Cultural Sensitivity. Respect local customs, particularly in religious sites. Modest clothing is recommended, and it's courteous to ask before taking photographs in certain areas.)

Culture and Lifestyle

Sharjah, a beacon of cultural richness in the United Arab Emirates, has meticulously crafted a vibrant cultural identity and heritage. Recognized by UNESCO in 1998 as the 'Arab Capital of Culture,' the emirate has consistently celebrated and preserved its cultural legacy. The dedication to cultural development is evident in the establishment of pillars and monuments that commemorate significant milestones in Sharjah's cultural journey.

The relocation of a monument from the Sharjah Desert Park and Arabian Wildlife Centre to the entrance of Sharjah's University City stands as a testament to the emirate's commitment to its cultural heritage. This move coincided with Sharjah's distinction as the Islamic Culture Capital in 2014, awarded by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), a specialized institution of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) dedicated to the fields of Education, Science, and Culture.

Education

  1. University of Sharjah. The largest university in the emirate, the University of Sharjah is a prestigious institution accredited by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. It serves as a comprehensive educational hub with various faculties and a commitment to academic excellence.

  2. American University of Sharjah (AUS). Established in 1997, the American University of Sharjah is a leading institution accredited by both the UAE Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the United States Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. AUS offers a diverse range of programs with an international perspective.

  3. Skyline College Sharjah. Positioned as a key educational entity in Sharjah, Skyline College offers a variety of academic programs and is known for its commitment to providing quality education.

  4. Sharjah Men's College. Sharjah Men's College is a prominent institution contributing to the educational landscape of the emirate. It plays a vital role in offering academic programs tailored to the needs of male students.

  5. Sharjah Women's College. Complementing the educational spectrum, Sharjah Women's College stands as a significant institution dedicated to providing quality education for female students in Sharjah.

  6. Exeed School of Business and Finance. Specializing in business and finance education, the Exeed School of Business and Finance is a noteworthy institution that equips students with skills and knowledge in these crucial fields.

Medical Facilities

Sharjah is equipped with a diverse range of medical facilities, ensuring residents and visitors have access to quality healthcare services. Among the notable establishments contributing to the healthcare landscape is the Medcare Hospital. Known for its commitment to excellence, Medcare Hospital provides a comprehensive array of medical services, reflecting its dedication to patient well-being.

Another prominent healthcare institution in Sharjah is the University Hospital Sharjah, a facility that combines education and healthcare to offer cutting-edge medical services. With a focus on research and innovation, University Hospital Sharjah plays a crucial role in advancing medical knowledge and providing high-quality healthcare to the community. Additionally, Zulekha Hospital, Saudi German Hospital Sharjah, and Burjeel Specialty Hospital contribute to Sharjah's healthcare infrastructure, collectively offering a wide range of specialized medical services to cater to the diverse needs of the population. These institutions exemplify Sharjah's commitment to ensuring accessible and top-notch healthcare services for its residents.

Transportation

The Sharjah Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) initiated the public transport system on May 23, 2008, marking a significant stride in enhancing connectivity within the emirate. The public transport network initially began with 11 buses on Route 14, stretching from Sharjah International Airport to Al-Sharq terminal. The system rapidly expanded, and by November 2008, 142 buses operated on 18 routes, providing a comprehensive network for residents and visitors alike. Intercity buses, numbering 115 by February 2010, facilitate 250 daily trips with fares ranging from AED 5 to AED 30.

Tips for navigating the area:

  1. Public Buses. Utilize the extensive bus network for convenient intra-city travel. Familiarize yourself with the routes and schedules to optimize your commuting experience.

  2. Intercity Buses. If traveling between emirates, Sharjah's intercity buses offer a cost-effective and efficient mode of transportation. Be aware of the varying fares for different destinations.

  3. Taxis. Metered taxis are readily available for both intra-city and inter-city travel. Understand the base fare and additional charges for a seamless taxi experience.

  4. Sharjah International Airport. For international and domestic air travel, Sharjah International Airport is a major hub. Plan your journeys with awareness of the airport's location and services, especially if connecting to or from Dubai.

Special Events

  1. Expo Centre Sharjah Annual Book Fair. The Expo Centre Sharjah organizes an annual book fair that stands out as a literary extravaganza in the region. Established by Frederick Pittera from 1976 to 1989, this event attracts both local and international publishers, offering a diverse array of thousands of titles. It serves as a significant platform for literary enthusiasts to explore and celebrate the written word.

  2. F1 Powerboat Race and Aquabike World Championship. Since 2000, Sharjah has been hosting the F1 Powerboat Race during the Sharjah Water Festival in December. This thrilling event draws over 75,000 visitors to the emirate, adding an adrenaline-pumping spectacle to the festivities. Since 2016, the event has been enhanced by combining it with the Aquabike World Championship, making the Grand Prix of Sharjah the final of these two major disciplines in Powerboating World.

  3. Sharjah Biennial. The Sharjah Biennial is a cultural extravaganza that celebrates the arts in various forms, including music, theater, dance, and visual arts. The festival typically occurs annually, bringing together local and international artists to showcase their talent and contribute to the cultural richness of Sharjah.

  4. Sharjah Light Festival. The Sharjah Light Festival illuminates the emirate with stunning light displays, transforming key landmarks into mesmerizing works of art. Held annually, this event adds a magical touch to Sharjah's nightscape, attracting locals and tourists alike to witness the enchanting play of lights on the city's architecture.

Practical Information

  1. Local Currency. The official currency in Sharjah is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED). Ensure you are familiar with current exchange rates, and it's advisable to have some local currency on hand for small purchases.

  2. Language. Arabic is the official language in Sharjah. English is widely spoken, especially in urban areas, and many signs and services are available in English, making it convenient for visitors.

  3. Time Zone. Sharjah operates on Gulf Standard Time (GST), which is UTC+4.

  4. Local Customs. Sharjah follows Islamic traditions and customs. Dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites, and be respectful of local customs and traditions.

Safety Considerations and Emergency Contact Information

  1. Emergency Services. For police, fire, or medical emergencies, dial 999. This is the universal emergency number in the United Arab Emirates.

  2. Health and Safety. The overall health and safety standards in Sharjah are high. Tap water is safe to drink, and medical facilities are well-equipped. It's advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies.

  3. Local Laws. Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations. In Sharjah, public intoxication is prohibited, and smoking is restricted in public areas.

  4. Transportation Safety. When using public transportation or taxis, ensure that you are using reputable services. Follow traffic rules, and use designated crosswalks when walking.

  5. Weather Considerations. Sharjah has a desert climate with hot summers and mild winters. Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, and dress appropriately for the weather.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Sharjah Emirate stands as a captivating destination within the Arab world, offering a blend of rich heritage and contemporary attractions. The Sharjah Heritage Museum provides a glimpse into the emirate's cultural roots, while the vibrant arts scene, exemplified by the Cultural Capital designation, showcases a commitment to fostering creativity and expression. From the bustling Souq Al Markazi to the serene Al Khan Lagoon, the emirate provides a diverse range of experiences, making it a must-visit location in the Middle East.

For those seeking a journey through the heart of the Arab world, Sharjah invites exploration. Whether wandering through the historic Blue Souq, navigating the rush hour traffic jams in the commercial center, or strolling through the Heritage District, Sharjah's charm lies in its authenticity. With its position as the third-largest city in the UAE and a hub of government departments, the emirate seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. Encouraging travelers to discover the stone-age history, natural wonders, and vibrant arts area, Sharjah beckons with open arms, promising an enriching and culturally immersive experience for all who venture to visit.

FAQ

  • 1.

    What language is spoken in Sharjah?

    In Sharjah, Arabic is the official language. However, English is widely spoken, especially in urban areas and popular tourist destinations. Signs, services, and communication in English are common, making it convenient for international visitors to navigate and interact within the emirate.

  • 2.

    What is the largest city of Sharjah Emirate?

    The largest city in Sharjah Emirate is Sharjah City itself. As the capital and cultural hub of the emirate, Sharjah City encompasses various districts, landmarks, and attractions, including the iconic Blue Souq, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, and numerous commercial and residential areas.

  • 3.

    What are the nearest emirates?

    Sharjah Emirate shares its borders with several neighboring emirates in the United Arab Emirates. To the northwest, it is adjacent to Ajman, and to the northeast, it is near Dubai. Additionally, Umm Al-Quwain is situated to the north of Sharjah. These neighboring emirates collectively contribute to the interconnected and dynamic landscape of the UAE, allowing for ease of travel and exploration between them.

  • 4.

    What is the population of Sharjah?

    As of 2019, the population of Sharjah was approximately 1.275 million. It's worth noting that population figures can fluctuate over time due to various factors, including migration, urban development, and other demographic changes.

  • 5.

    What are the must-visit cultural attractions in Sharjah Emirate?

    Sharjah Emirate is renowned for its rich cultural heritage. Visitors should explore the Sharjah Heritage Museum to delve into the emirate's history and the Blue Souq for a traditional shopping experience.

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Creation date:
Update date: 02/20/2024