Sharjah, dubbed the cultural capital of the UAE, is the third largest city on the Arabian Peninsula, strategically located on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf. Sharjah’s size and history contribute to its diverse cultural heritage, earning it the title of UNESCO’s “World Book Capital for 2019.” Sharjah, with a settlement dating back 5000 years, has historically been one of the wealthiest cities in the UAE.
While the city has a spectacular skyline, grand canals, lagoons, and a corniche housing upscale hotels, it is the abundance of museums, art galleries, heritage enclaves, exquisite architecture, and the presence of the annual Sharjah International Book Fair that has propelled it to the forefront of the Arab cultural landscape. Contact one of the top travel and tourism businesses in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, if you want to go on the Sharjah City Tour.
The Top 5 Landmarks That Make Sharjah the Cultural Capital of the UAE
1. The Mosque of Sharjah
Sharjah’s largest mosque, which has been in the works for five years, finally welcomed visitors in 2019. The Dh300 million project covers an area of 185,806 square metres and can accommodate more than 25,000 devotees. Inside the structure, approximately 5000 devotees can be accommodated, with special seating for approximately 610 women.
The mosque, which incorporates elements of traditional Islamic architecture, is notable for its domes and minarets, ornate columns, and the numerous water fountains and gardens that surround it. Look up at the stained glass work on the main prayer hall’s arched windows. Its walls are adorned with Quranic verses. The massive chandelier in the centre and the red carpet exemplify opulence.
2. Mleiha Tourist Information Center
The Mleiha Visitor Centre is located in Mleiha, close to Jebel Fayah, approximately 65 kilometres southeast of Sharjah city.It is one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in the UAE, unravelling the ancient secrets of mankind in the Arabian Peninsula. Mleiha is a rich repository of artefacts, interactive displays, and exhibits, built around a massive Bronze Age tomb belonging to Umm an-Nar.
Even better, you can take a tour guide to some of the local archaeological sites.Stop by the on-site cafe for some delectable Arabic fare.There are also treks and 4WD trips to Camel Rock and Fossil Rock available.Even from one of Mleiha’s highest peaks, you can paraglide. Dune buggy rides and desert cycling tours are also popular in the area.
3. The Rain Room
The Rain Room has become a permanent installation thanks to the efforts of the Sharjah Art Foundation, where visitors are treated to continuous rainfall, a sight quite rare in the deserts.In the Rain Room, you must carefully navigate through a dark underground area while avoiding the heavy downpour.The Rain Room is fascinating in that it uses sensors to pause the rain when it detects movement.
So if you walk too quickly, you will almost certainly get wet in the rain.Slowly walk over, and your clothes will be as dry and crisp as when you arrived. The never-ending rain is created with 1200 litres of recycled, self-cleaning water. Random International’s installation is a type of experimental contemporary art that incorporates digital practise.
4. Textile Souq
Retail therapy in the textile souq along the creek in Al Shuwaiheen and the Rolla Square Park area are some of the best for a treasure trove of raw silk, embellished fabrics, and cotton. Browse a catalogue at the national capital Souq and Souq Al Soor textile centre, which is directly across from Al Shaab Village and King Faisal Mosque. Shop for fine silks, sarees, beaded fabrics, lacework, and designer wear, as the souqs are a treasure trove of high-quality textiles.
5. Mosque of Al Noor
The most beautiful mosque in Sharjah, overlooking the Khalid Lagoon on the Buhaira Corniche, Al Noor Mosque is also the first to welcome non-Muslim visitors.
The structure’s Ottoman architecture, with its spread of domes and two tall minarets that are a permanent fixture of the Sharjah skyline, is immediately noticeable. The detailing on its arches, domes, and pillars will captivate you, as will the sweep of calligraphic inscriptions from the Quran. A tour of the mosque is an excellent way to learn about Islam as well as the local culture. Although there is no admission fee to the mosque, there is a strict dress code. Cameras are permitted here; you may even photograph inside the structure.