Before sunrise, after sunset

Synonymous with Sachin Tendulkar’s prolific form during the ’98 Sharjah Cup, this Emirati city also boasts brimming souqs, museums and azure waters

Published - May 17, 2017 04:59 pm IST



A trip to Sharjah is a convenient affair — it takes just about four hours to reach the cultural capital of UAE, which was also named the capital of Islamic culture in 2014. While it isn’t flashy and doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of Dubai, it has a soul of its own, and is deeply imbued with local traditions.

Sharjah, meaning the east or the rising sun, is the third-largest emirate.


Bu dget airlines like Air Arabia operate every day from Chennai to Sharjah. Take the 4.20 am flight, and you should be in Sharjah by 6.50 am (local time).

Day 1

10 am – Blue Souq

Souqs are markets where one can find traders selling local produce and handicrafts from the region. The Central Souq or the Blue Souq is one of the largest markets in Sharjah. It acquires the name from the blue tiles with Arabic impressions adorning its exterior.

Built in the traditional Arabic style, with numerous wind towers, the air-conditioned market is divided into two sections. Carpets, shawls, cosmetics, perfumes, clothes, fabrics, artefacts, electronic goods and loads of dazzling jewellery are some of the items sold under its roof. The two-storey souq has shops selling products from the UAE, Morocco, Turkey and West Asia.

Noon – Irani Market

Many decades ago, along the corniche, Indian and Irani traders would unload their sacks of spices, after which rates would be discussed and finalised with their West Asian counterparts. These were then sold at the Irani market close to the Central Souq.

One cannot miss the heady smell of the different kinds of herbs, nuts, spices, flower extracts, rose water and dates that are sold in the quaint shops with wooden doors. The shops here claim to sell an assortment of spices. Bargaining would definitely help.

3 pm – Sharjah Heritage Museum

If you want to understand the life of the Emiratis in Sharjah, this is the museum you must visit. It is located in the heritage area, which is called the Heart of Sharjah. Did you know local men greet each other by rubbing noses, and the Bedouins sustain on camel milk and dates for long periods in the desert? One can get an insight into all this and more at the heritage museum.



5 pm – Sharjah Classic Car Museum

For automobile aficionados, this museum has classic motorcycles, bicycles and cars on display, with details on their history and specifications.

Trivia on automobiles and a classic vintage car collection from the 20th Century can be found in the museum. Various models of Rolls-Royce, Ford, Mercedes, Chevrolet and Bentley, among others, are showcased here.

7 pm – Al Qasba

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city from the Eye of the Emirates Wheel, the Ferris wheel at the Al Qasba waterfront. The water jets out in a colourful symphony as it dances to the vibrant music. You can also take a ride on the Abra, the traditional boat. As it traverses through the water, you get to enjoy a panoramic view of Sharjah, with its beautiful walkways and tall buildings juxtaposed with mosques.

The area is dotted with numerous cafés and restaurants serving varied cuisines, catering to the young and old. Do not miss the Arabic sweets and coffee, and the wide variety of dates.

Day 2

9 am – East Coast Drive

4 pm – Off-road safari drive in Mleiha

Mleiha is a hotspot for archaeologists and antiquarians.

Here, one can understand the lifestyle of the locals from thousands of years ago — Palaeolithic period to the Late Pre-Islamic Period.

The archaeological museum conducts guided tours to sites, where excavations have thrown light on the food the people ate, their homes, their livestock, and the tools they used.

The exhilarating off-road safari drive with dune bashing is not to be missed. The drive takes you to Camel Rock and Fossil Rock.

Follow this up with the sight of a mesmerising sunset from behind the undulating sand dunes.

You could also have a barbecue dinner under the star-studded sky in Mleiha.

Fact file

Flight – Air Arabia flies daily from Chennai and costs around ₹20,999 inclusive of visa, baggage and all taxes, for a round trip.

How to get there – The best mode of transport to explore Sharjah are the local taxis which charge on the distance travelled. You can also take the hop-on-hop-off buses, which have fixed pick up and drop points. Visit for details.

Currency – The official currency in Sharjah is the dirham, which is used across the UAE.

Weather – The best time to visit the Emirati is from November to March, when the weather is pleasant.

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