Sharjah is a United Arab Emirates city on the Arabian Gulf. Traditionally more conservative than its southern neighbor, Dubai, Sharjah is widely considered the nation’s cultural capital. Its Heritage Area is on the creek that the city first developed around, with restored homes and museums devoted to Emirati customs. It's also home to Sharjah Fort, a 19th-century royal residence turned local history museum.

Sharjah offers a large number of touristic attractions. Here are some examples:


Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization is a good place to dive into the deep roots of Arab and Islamic culture. A number of scientific and religious manuscripts, as well as a collection of Islamic arts and craft work dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries,  are on display. Features of particular note include the exhibit of clay, pottery, and glass, as well as metallic handicrafts inlaid with silver, gold, and brass, and the collection of astrolabes.

The museum holds items dating back to the Abbasid and Umayyad eras, including a coin collection of silver dinars and dirhams, but also traces the far-reaching tentacles of Islamic culture, with exhibits of Mughal and Ottoman craft work.

Address: Corniche Street, Sharjah


Sharjah Heritage Area

The Sharjah Heritage Area is a combination of several museums that include the Sharjah Heritage Museum, with exhibits covering all facets of traditional Emirati life; the Calligraphy Museum, exploring this Arab art form; and Bait Al Naboodah, a finely restored traditional family home, once home to the Al-Shamsi family. They're a great place to delve a bit deeper into traditional Emirati culture and discover what life was like before the discovery of oil.

A number of traditional souk areas have also been revived, such as Souk Al Arsah. This large open courtyard souk has been restored in its traditional style and now includes a number of different shops featuring silver and wooden handicrafts, jewelry, traditional garments, and beauty products.

Location: Off Corniche Street, Sharjah


Sharjah Fort

Sharjah Fort (called Al Hisn in Arabic) sits on a plaza at the corner of the Heritage District. It was built 200 years ago and has served as both a defensive facility for the town and as the traditional residence of the ruling family of Sharjah.

Inside, the rooms contain themed displays tracing the history of Sharjah, as well as the town's importance as part of the Gulf's trade networks. One exhibit details the painstaking restoration of the building in the late 20th century. From the roof, there are great views across the Heritage District and out to the sea.

The Sharjah City Highlights Private Tour offers a half day of exploring Sharjah's sights including Sharjah Fort, Sharjah Heritage Museum and Souk Al Arsah. The guide can tailor the trip to your interests, so you can add in trips to the Museum of Islamic Civilization or the Art Museum or a ramble around the Central Market if you like. Transport, including pickup and drop-off from Dubai hotels, is included.


Central Market

Sharjah's Central Market is the city's most famous landmark. The intricate blue tile work on the exterior has given it the nickname the Blue Souk. More than 600 shops are inside, where shoppers will find sections devoted to gold and jewelry, perfume, clothing, food, electronics, and gift-type items.

The upper floor has the atmosphere of an authentic Arabian bazaar, with vendors selling antiques, carpets, Omani and Yemeni jewelry, and all sorts of other exotic souvenirs. For downtime after shopping exploits, the market area is also home to plenty of cafés.

Location: Khalid Lagoon, Sharjah