A centre of Islamic tradition and custom, Sharjah is the third-largest emirate and solely 30 minutes from Dubai Airport. Maybe as a result of alcohol is banned, it’s been overshadowed by its neighbour, however a wealth of sights – from a restored heritage space to a rotating calendar of occasions – means issues are altering quick. Its standing as Unesco’s World E-book Capital in 2019 (the official launch was on 23 April) has solely upped its profile additional.

What to do

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Sharjah is World E-book Capital for 2019

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The Ahmad Bin Hanbal Mosque

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There are many high-octane actions to take pleasure in within the desert

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Get a way of Sharjah’s heritage with a go to to the Islamic Museum

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Store for conventional crafts on the Coronary heart of Sharjah

Coronary heart of Sharjah

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Shababeek is understood for stunning design

Shababeek

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The Act Lodge is Sharjah’s reply to a design lodge

The Act Lodge

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Sharjah is World E-book Capital for 2019

Getty Pictures

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The Ahmad Bin Hanbal Mosque

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There are many high-octane actions to take pleasure in within the desert

Getty Pictures/iStockphoto

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Get a way of Sharjah’s heritage with a go to to the Islamic Museum

Getty Pictures/iStockphoto

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Store for conventional crafts on the Coronary heart of Sharjah

Coronary heart of Sharjah

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Shababeek is understood for stunning design

Shababeek

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The Act Lodge is Sharjah’s reply to a design lodge

The Act Lodge

Islamic heritage

A becoming place to begin is the Sharjah Islamic Museum. Set inside a fantastically renovated indoor market that’s massive on symmetry and Arabic design, it explains Muslim practices and contributions to science and the humanities in creative methods. Open 8am-8pm day by day; Fridays 4-8pm. Entry 10AED (£2.20).

Get a way of Sharjah’s heritage with a go to to the Islamic Museum (Getty Pictures/iStockphoto)

The long-lasting Al Noor Mosque is among the few within the emirate that enables non-Muslims to enter, and it’s as elaborately adorned inside as its exteriors recommend. As all through Sharjah, conservative gown is predicted, although ladies are given an abaya cloak and niqab to put on. Open Mondays and Thursdays, 10-11am. Free entry.

Stroll the waterfront

Immediately’s Sharjah has a modernity to it that’s invigorating to see. A stroll alongside the manicured Al Majaz waterfront reveals its shiny new eating places and hangouts, like Shakespeare & Co, a Jelly Stomach ice cream parlour and the incredible Al Rawi. The latter is outlined as a café-bookshop, with literature in each English and Arabic, however actually it’s a cultural house the place there are guide golf equipment, signings, workshops and group gatherings. Open 8am-midnight day by day (closes 1am Thursday to Saturday).

Ogle some artwork

The Sharjah Artwork Basis has everlasting and momentary exhibitions, a lot of that are on the worldwide circuit. Attempt to catch considered one of their outside screenings of Arabic and English movies. Open 8am-8pm day by day; 4-8pm Fridays. Free entry.

Desert actions

There are many high-octane actions to take pleasure in within the desert (Getty Pictures/iStockphoto)

An hour away from Sharjah’s metropolis centre is full-on desert territory, wandering camels included. Meaning dune bashing, biking excursions and twilight Bedouin-style camps, relying on one’s adrenaline ranges. Strive it in Mleiha to incorporate a go to to the archaeological website with the primary proof of human exercise outdoors Africa.

The place to remain

For location and value, the Golden Tulip can’t be overwhelmed. It’s on the waterfront and it handily shares constructing house with a 24-hour grocery store. Every room presents lakeside views and a kitchenette, and is comfortably furnished. Doubles from 180AE (£39), room solely. 

Close by, the newer, extra fashionable The Act Lodge has plush rooms and a steam room, sauna and rooftop pool. It’s as near a design lodge as you’ll discover in Sharjah metropolis. Doubles from 429AED (£92), B&B.

The Act Lodge is Sharjah’s reply to a design lodge (The Act Lodge)

The Ramada Lodge not solely borders Dubai with a free shuttle service to its metropolis centre, but in addition has a Vegas-style bridge straight to the Sahara Centre (to spend any financial savings made). Rooms are impressively spacious. Doubles from 250AED (£53), room solely.

The Sheraton seems to be like a grand palace on the method and seashore resort when you’re inside. The beachside restaurant Al Qubtan is a positive place to lunch, whereas the seafood restaurant Marasea is domestically favoured too. Doubles from 321AED (£55), room solely.

The place to eat 

A very tasty model of Center Jap delicacies (assume flatbreads with hummus, baba ganoush and meat grills) is present in Shababeek, a restaurant with award-winning design. It’s a part of a cluster of eating places alongside the Venice-inspired Al Qasba; throughout the canal, Beit Setti, that means ‘Grandma’s home’, is a busy Syrian eatery with flavoursome meals and loads of outside seating.

There’s one other cluster of upmarket eating spots alongside the Al Majaz waterfront. Al Fanar is the perfect place to strive upscale conventional Emirati delicacies. Their breakfast sport is robust: go conventional and order Balalit, candy, syrupy noodles topped with an omelette-style egg.

Eating on the Al Bait Lodge is an efficient probability to nostril round this heritage lodge and take a look at daring dishes (though put together to loosen the purse strings significantly). Alongside shawarma and falafel, the Arabic restaurant options poached lamb mind and kibbeh nayyeh, a Levantine lamb model of steak tartare. The primary restaurant’s choices embody kangaroo katsu and 24-hour braised camel, a speciality of the area.

Shababeek is understood for stunning design (Shababeek)

On the different finish of the spectrum, Al Madfoon is a well-liked, no-frills restaurant that specialises in marinated grilled meats, together with goat. 

The place to drink

Alcohol is banned in Sharjah, so it’s going to should be juice. Haji Ali Juice Centre (00971 6 553 1009) is a small joint that will get busy within the evenings; all their juices are made recent, and if water is used, it’s filtered. 

Espresso tradition is standard too. Within the heritage space of the Coronary heart of Sharjah, Ratios Espresso serves a rotating line up of single-origin espresso alongside snacks. On the counter, there’s an extended row of tasting items of Mirzam chocolate like saffron, maple, jaggery and almond (take it as an invitation to strive all of them, extensively).

The place to buy 

Sharjah doesn’t attempt to compete with Dubai for its vary of glitz and types. The closest model of a luxurious mall is the Sahara Centre, with worldwide retailers like Lacoste and Jack Jones alongside main Emirati shops. 

Store for conventional crafts on the Coronary heart of Sharjah (Coronary heart of Sharjah)

Nonetheless, there’s loads of arts, crafts and textiles to be discovered. Discover these within the Central Souk, additionally price a go to because it’s such a landmark, and the Coronary heart of Sharjah. This can be a heritage market space given a contemporary makeover, with retailers promoting antiques, conventional gadgets and homewares. Most retailers open later within the day on Fridays.

Architectural spotlight 

It’s handy for the sightseer that Sharjah’s Cultural Sq., with a 15m-high second of the Qu’ran at its centre, is surrounded by 5 magnificent Arabian-style buildings: the Cultural Palace, the Ahmad Bin Hanbal Mosque, the Ruler’s Workplace, a authorities workplace and Sharjah Library. Every is a feast for the eyes. 

The Ahmad Bin Hanbal Mosque (Getty Pictures/iStockphoto)

Nuts and bolts 

What forex do I would like?

The Arab Emirate Dirham (AED).

What language do they communicate?

Arabic, however English is extensively spoken too.

Ought to I tip? 

Tipping isn’t customary, however don’t let that cease you.

What’s the time distinction?

GMT+4.

What’s the common flight time from the UK?

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates fly direct from the UK to Dubai Airport, in about seven hours.

Public transport

There’s bus service, and taxis are extensively accessible and reasonably priced.

Greatest view

The Khalid Lake Path is a promenade with expansive views of Sharjah’s skyscrapers and ornate mosques, framed by the placid lake and blue skies. 

Insider tip

In search of a present? Dates, spices and Emeriti espresso beans may be discovered on the Souq Al Jubail, primarily a fish market, however one aspect is devoted to groceries. Head to the Zahrat Al Seder stall for a variety of honey, embody full honeycombs and ‘married individuals honey’ with aphrodisiac properties.