Away from the dazzle and glamour of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah holds the key to the United Arab Emirates’ history and culture. Proud holder of the titles ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ and the ‘Capital of Islamic Culture’, Sharjah is home to magnificent domes, soaring minarets, museums, parks, beaches and corniches.

Read on to explore authentic Arab culture in Sharjah.

Try Rustic Arabic Cuisine

There’s a strong connection between food and culture. Right from the ingredients to the cooking methods and cookware, food is the true representation of a country or city’s local culture. Devour rustic Arab dishes such as laham salona (an Emirati lamb stew), saloonat diyai (chicken stew), fragrant biryanis and harees (slow-cooked meat and wheat porridge) in Sharjah. Some of the restaurants that serve the best traditional Emirati food are Milas, Sharjah Dhow, Shababeek and Aroos. There are many coffee shops that serve regular café style drinks, but don’t miss a chance to try out local teas and coffees infused with saffron, cardamom or rosewater.

Shop like a Local

You will find several boutique stores, souks, and local bazaars that stock the finest clothes, jewelry and home décor that are made right here in Sharjah. Locals swear by Souq Al Jabail for fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Souq Al Arsah is an excellent local market to purchase traditional items like Arabic wooden chests, carpets, shawls, perfume bottles, coffee pots, and hand-crafted jewellery. Blue Souq on the Sharjah Corniche is the best market for souvenirs.

Explore Museums Galore

There are as many as 20 museums in Sharjah and each one helps you understand a little more about traditional Arab history and culture. The most endearing thing about the city’s hospitality is that many museums and heritage centres welcome its visitors with a cup of coffee or tea. According to travelers and residents, the Museum of Islamic Civilization, Science Museum, Heritage Museum, Art Museum, Sharjah Calligraphy Museum and the Maritime Museum are all worth a visit.

Additionally, Sharjah has parks, aquariums, wildlife centres, amusement parks, and the planetarium; all of which makes this UAE city a great holiday destination for those traveling with kids and family. To name a few, add Al Majaz Waterfront, Sharjah Aquarium, Mleiha Archaeological Centre and the Buhaira Corniche to your must-visit list.

Have a Unique Experience

Some of the unique experiences that Sharjah has to offer to adventure seekers are off-road Wadi tours, dune bashing and quad biking in the desert, powerboat racing, and water skiing.

Sharjah residents enjoy going on long drives and taking part in desert sports and activities. You can book a comfortable sedan through a reliable car rental service like Hertz before you set out on a road trip. Drive to Dubai to see the stunning Burj Khalifa, or head towards Kalba to pass through the longest tunnel in the Gulf and see some breath-taking mountains.