"Dubai's Cultural Sister: SHARJAH" Sharjah by JessH

Sharjah Travel Guide: 192 reviews and 707 photos

Sharjah is often and easily forgotten by both visitors to and residents of Dubai. Mainly, since the beginning of Dubai's "building boom" (year 2003 onwards) this smaller emirate doesn't appear to have as much to offer: there are no majestic shopping malls with indoor ski slopes, no gravity-defying skyscrapers, no superb 5-star hotels, and also - no alcohol.

Since 1985, Sharjah has been known as "the dry emirate" (but surprisingly, non-Muslims can purchase alcohol in Sharjah airport?s duty free section).
Also, it's good to be aware of the fact that this emirate is a little more conservative than "sin city Dubai": both women AND men should adhere to a more sensible and respectable dress code when in Sharjah.

The "Cultural Capital of the UAE"

But where Sharjah lacks in modern sophistications and glamour, it by far outshines Dubai with its cultural and historical sights. In the craze of megalomaniac projects and construction, Dubai quickly forgot about its own history and has all but demolished any traces of the past, but in Sharjah the UAE's heritage is alive and well. It proudly calls itself "The cultural capital of the UAE."

I have to admit: I have lived in the UAE since 1998 and rarely visit Sharjah, which is a shame. The main deterrent is simply traffic chaos: cost of living tends to be quite a bit cheaper than in Dubai, so hundreds of thousands of people commute to Dubai, turning a 15 kilometre stretch of road into a 3-hour gridlock nightmare each and every day.

But this coming winter, I definitely and traffic-defiantly plan more trips into Sharjah city!


It is the 3rd largest of the 7 United Arab Emirates and is ruled by H.H. Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi (since 1972).

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Rich in culture & history, much underestimated treasure to be found.
  • Cons:More conservative, no nightlife, heavy traffic conjestion.
  • In a nutshell:If you are looking for UAE heritage & culture, this is the place to be
  • Last visit to Sharjah: Feb 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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