| Home | Middle East | United Arab Emirates | Sharjah |
| Main Menu |  

Just up the coast from its bold neighbour Dubai, Sharjah is the third city of the UAE and capital of its Emirate by the same name. The city is part of the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman conurbation which spreads along the Persian Gulf, but it has its own distinct character and is very dense and crowded. Many migrant workers in Dubai stay in Sharjah and battle the traffic on the bus for over two hours every day. Sharjah is perhaps the most conservative of the Emirates, and is notable for being entirely dry - and I'm not talking about the weather.

I clearly remembered visiting the old central souk of Sharjah back in the 1980s, and was pleased to see it was still there when I returned in 2011. I've since been back in passing a few times, repeatedly to the smaller covered souk which stocks all sorts of curious items. I even bought my car here, Sharjah is a little cheaper than Dubai for cars.

Sharjah Corniche

Shiny glass towers at the Sharjah Corniche, with families out enjoying the cooler winter weather on a Friday afternoon.

The old central souk in Sharjah is an impressive building, complete with traditional style Arabian wind towers on top.

Arabian style window

Detail of one of the fancy windows of the old central souk in Sharjah, seen from the inside.

One of Sharjah's industries is the re-fit and servicing of jack-up drilling rigs, which line the sky at the port behind the old working dhows.

Jack-up drilling rigs

Mosque in Sharjah

Sharjah is known for the splendour of its many mosques, with this example by the waterfront being no exception.

The smaller covered souk in central Sharjah is a great place for finding old stamps and bank notes from long-defunct regimes.

Old market alley

Sharjah Fort

Sharjah Fort these days is somewhat boxed in by the surrounding apartment buildings, and is one of the few surviving historical remnants of the old city.

An example of the classic Arabian wind towers which dot the skyline in old Sharjah.

Wind tower

Sharjah's modern skyline

Like many cities in the Gulf, Sharjah rapidly developed during the 2000s, with an impressive skyline appearing virtually overnight. I've noticed that just about all towers in Sharjah are equipped with helipads, but I've seen very few in Dubai.

At one of the beaches on the southern edge of Sharjah, it's apparent just how close neighbouring Dubai is, with the Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed road towers looming through the haze.

Dubai skyline from Sharjah

Sharjah Monument

Outside of the city is the Sharjah Natural History Museum, an excellent attraction well worth a few hours. Although not very photogenic, the Sharjah Monument just across the road from the museum was worth a look too, sited on a small hill in the middle of the desert plain.

Top of page

Copyright © Ross Wattie 2012