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Beyond cricket and glamour

June Mukherjee, 24-11-2021

One of the astounding buildings in the old Porvoo is the pink town hall. Located in the he

Although among the seven Emirates, big brother Dubai takes most of the limelight, but over decades Sharjah has secured a unique place in the travellers' mind with a unique curiosity. Primarily it was the place in the middle of nowhere cricket was made glamourous and popular with film stars in the gallery and suddenly there was a surge to pin point in the map, where exactly it is. Over the recent period Sharjah has developed immensely as a tourist destination, primarily as a family escape.

Well-known for its rich, cultural heritage – an identity that has been recognised a number of times as shown by Sharjah winning the Cultural Capital of the Arab World 1998 and Islamic Culture Capital 2014 awards. Today it is a vibrant city with an exciting food and arts scene, a heritage area which is also the largest restoration project in the region along with various commercial centres and over 22 museums.

The third largest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sharjah is divided into three regions: Sharjah City, Central Region and East Coast, each offering visitors something new and different to explore.

Family fun in the Sharjah City

From casual dining, cafe and leisure options to cultural programmes and events, development in this city is focussed around family and children. As a result, parents always have several options for things to do with kids in Sharjah. The Al Majaz Waterfront features mini golf, a splash park, a mini-train and several attractions made for children. A hit attraction for everyone, the Sharjah fountain periodically features an awe-inspiring light and sound display. Situated on Flag Island in Khalid Lagoon, Sharjah’s iconic Al Montazah is the venue for a fun family day out as it hosts two exciting parks themed around ancient heroic legends. The car-free Al Noor Island is known for its tropical biosphere filled with floating butterflies. Al Noor Island also hosts several art installations, including the world-famous OVO structure.

Just a short drive from the Sharjah corniche, Al Qasba offers a wealth of activities for children and adults alike with restaurants, cultural events and art and design museums. Parents often pick Al Qasba to unwind at a cafe while their children enjoy the musical fountain, frolic at the kids’ fun zone and indoor soft play centre or choose from the many fun activities for kids. The heritage loving families can easily spend a whole day exploring the art spaces and museums housed in traditional barjeel (wind tower) buildings in the potential UNESCO World Heritage Site of Heart of Sharjah.

Desert landscape of the Central Region

Less than an hour's drive from the city, Sharjah’s Central Region is a landscape of desert sand and Rocky Mountains full of history and adventure. Buy locally-produced pottery and carpets or chase the taste of farm fresh dates in Al Dhaid, known for its date palm plantations irrigated by water from the nearby Hajar Mountains via centuries-old falaj channels. A hidden oasis on the Sharjah map, Al Badayer is a popular destination among 4x4 enthusiasts. Conquer impressive dunes on quad-bikes, experience the thrill of dune-bashing and desert driving or relax while camping under open skies, travellers of all ages can enjoy this destination. Mleiha UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the UAE. You can explore the archaeological sites or venture into the sand dunes with a desert safari or trek to Camel Rock for an expansive view of the desert.

Scenic backdrop of the East Coast

From thriving nature reserves to clear beach waters, Sharjah’s east coast is a scenic area for action and adventure. With a picturesque marina, this town gets its name from the landmark Hisn or 'fort' in English. Activities here include taking a tour of the old Dibba Al-Hisn fort, cruising along the coast on a fishing boat or 'dhow' and visiting local mosques and fresh produce markets. The beach town of Khorfakkan is one of the most visited tourist places of Sharjah for leisure and adventure. Spend the day by getting closer to the shimmering waters by sailing, kayaking, scuba-diving, etc. One of the most popular destinations for ecotourism in the UAE, Kalba is home to a thriving ecosystem of rare animals and birds. With plenty of scenic spots and glittering waters, the reserve is also a popular spot for picnics.

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The world is finally opening up again and travellers are all set to indulge in unique and diverse experiences. Post-pandemic travel trends include a hassle-free vacation where people will prefer a nearby destination that offers a wholesome, family experience. Sharjah is an ideal getaway, with diverse regions and landscapes, not to mention pocket-friendly and only a few hours flight time from South Asia.

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