Located along the northern coast of Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, Sharjah is certainly an easy to reach city from its neighbouring emirate Dubai. It is the third-largest emirate in the UAE. It is the only one to have land on both Arabian Gulf Coast and the Gulf of Oman.
Given, the rich legacy of arts, heritage and culture, the emirate of Sharjah is also known as the Cultural Capital of the UAE. Sharjah is bordered by city of Ajman and Dubai, and is 170kms away from Abu Dhabi.
Economy of Sharjah
Although the primary economic resources of Sharjah are crude oil and gas, several other also work in tourism, plastics, logistics, and other short scale industries. The government of Sharjah recognizes the importance of private sectors as foundation of strong economy. It has been offering basic infrastructure amenities, with high quality services, so as to welcome foreign investment in various sectors including manufacturing, trade and services.
The Hamriyah Free Zone, with its tax-free environment and exemption from commercial duties, offers incentives for businesses. Sharjah Airport Free Zone is another important economic trade zone. Currently, Sharjah continues trade relations with 126 countries and plays a major role in global investment scenario.
Several expatriates live in Sharjah and work in Dubai, due to cheaper cost of living in Sharjah. The Sharjah government has taken actions for development of its economy, and implemented few ambitious schemes to remain ahead in the process of industrialization. The city authorities focus on vital factors such as improvement of road infrastructure and development, expansion of Sharjah International Airport, and upgrading of power and water amenities.
The Government also takes initiative in building a strong economy and the development of new business sectors, including real estate, tourisim, education, and the hydrocarbons sector.
Population of Sharjah
The population of Sharjah as on 1st January 2011 is 533,702.
Major Attractions in Sharjah
The city of Sharjah offers wonderful attractions to entertain visitors, including several tourist spots, traditional souqs, museums, shopping malls, family and entertainment amenities and luxurious hotels.
Al Qasba is the most important tourist attraction of the city, with plenty of entertainment amenities including cultural and leisure attractions based on values of Arabian tradition. A rich world of ancient tradition, culture and food can be experienced at the ancient Silk Road in Al Qasba. There are poetry recitals by Munshid at Sharjah. Further, the Al Eman Oasis is an Islamic lecture tent, open to visitors of all faiths and religion. There is a huge selection of food and beverage outlets offering all kinds of cuisines from light to continental, rich and traditional.
Eye of Emirates
The Eye of Emirates is a giant wheel, offering an aerial view of Sharjah Corniche, landscape and lagoons, apart from the horizons of neighbouring Dubai. It has 42 air-conditioned cabins that go 60 meters high over Sharjah, with capacity to carry more than 336 passengers at a time.
Arabian Wildlife Centre
Located about 26kms away from the city centre, next of Sharjah International Airport, the centre has more than 100 wildlife species in safe, spacious and natural surroundings. There are diverse fauna found in the peninsula, including the species that are becoming extinct.
Several souqs in Sharjah are located on or behind the famous Corniche Road. Several shops at the Iranian Bazaar, Souq Al Arsah, Blue Souq and Al Majarrah Souk, are also a means to learn about the ethnic culture of an Arabia market. The Blue Souq is the largest and most important. It is particularly known as blue souq, due to its unique blue vaulted roof. The blue souq is divided into two sections with about 600 shops.
It is a two-storey fort located in the centre of old Sharjah in Al Shukh district. Constructed in 1820, Al Hisn has been converted into a museum that showcases a world of local history and charm, housing exhibits such as old coins, jewellery, weighing scales, and arms and ammunition, amazing photos and maps.
The Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium has the capacity to accommodate a population of over 27,000, and is the right venue for one-day international cricket matches. This ground is particularly popular among the south Asian population of UAE.
Sharjah Art Museum
Located in Bait Al Serkal, in the Al Shuwaihiyeen area, the museum offers facilities of an international art museum. This two storey building is spread across 111,000 sq mts and showcases several artworks on the ground floor. There are also solo and group exhibitions being organized at this venue.
Founded in 1977 by Frederick Pittera, a producer of International Fairs and Exhibitions. It is a fantastic landscaped architecture famous for its annual book fair. It hosts several international conferences, exhibitions and events.
The Discovery Centre
It is the latest and greatest attraction of Sharjah, located along the Al Dhaid Road, 15 kms away from the city centre. Opened in March 1999, it has several themed areas including Body World, Sports World, Build Town, Water World and Drive Town. The centre also houses kiddy’s supermarket, bank, recording studio and several more refreshment amenities.
Originally a part of Arab Maritime Transport Academy, it is located in Al Majaz, near Sharjah Bridge, it is 3kms away from the city centre. It mostly attracts government schools, science clubs for study of astronomy and celestial navigation. However, the permission of Department of Culture and information is necessary for group visits.
Sharjah National History Museum and Desert Park
The National History Museum and Desert Park allows visitors to learn about flora and fauna of Arabian Desert. The children farm allows children to have close contact with farm animals. Freshly made cheese, milk and yogurt are available here. A beehive can be watched with bees flying in and around through a transparent tube. The Diorama Hall depicts several desert habitats from East to West Coast of Sharjah, photos of birds and animals. The Geology Hall offers a lively geological exhibit by telling wonderful story of life on each since the beginning of creation. The Flora Hall presents movies on wildflowers and desert ecology, apart from educational video games.
Sharjah Heritage Museum
The Sharjah Heritage Area is a combination of several museums including Sharjah Heritage Museum, Al Hisn Sharjah, Al Midfaa House, Souq Al Arsah, Bait Al Naboodah, and Hisn Kalba. The souq exudes a traditional style and charm, exhibiting silver and wooden artifacts, novelties, jewellery, medical herbs and garments. Al NAboodah is a traditional family home comprising 16 rooms converted into a museum, with each room displaying traditional clothing, old kitchen, living rooms, costumes, jewellery and artifacts. There is also an ancient fort and defensive facility in the premises.
Sharjah Archeology Museum
The Archeology Museum has several halls that exhibit numerous flint pieces reflecting technology of that period, old seashells, ornamental items such as gems and pottery. There also models of skeletons from Al Buhais area, which confirms trade exchange with Mesopotamia. The exhibits in the Bronze Age hall feature a film, and some archeological findings such as metals, soft stones and some jewellery. The museum is equipped with computer systems, which provides necessary info, permits children to play games, pertaining to Museum’s archeological exhibits.
Sharjah Islamic Museum
This presents the deep roots in the Arab and Islamic culture. The Islamic Museum includes artifacts and manuscripts expressing a distinct Islamic heritage. Several scientific and religious manuscripts, apart from collection of Islamic arts and crafts have been displayed here. Other collections on the display include ornamental tools, jewellery and several Islamic currencies.