The beautiful and exquisite Arabic architecture in Sharjah is not something to be missed. All government buildings across the emirate are designed using principles of Arabic and Islamic architecture.
As you may know, this means not only lots of arches, domes and geometric designs, but also no representations of living beings. You can see mosques in Ottoman style, traditional architecture and also in more modern architectural styles.
To enjoy this stunning architecture, there are a few places which are good to drive around. Of course, it’s even better if you get up close to see the more intricate workmanship.
Arabic Architecture in Sharjah – Qur’an Roundabout
Let’s start with Quran Roundabout, also known as Book Roundabout and Cultural Square, where you can see the Cultural Palace (a theatre), the main library, the Ruler’s Office and a mosque. In the middle of the roundabout is a sculpture of an open Quran.
Arabic Architecture in Sharjah – University City
Next, let’s go from the roundabout onto Dhaid/Airport Road and turn into University City.
At the turn off, you’ll see two monuments, one which marked Sharjah being named the Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO in 1998 and the other when Sharjah was named Islamic Culture Capital by the Organisation of Islamic Countries in 2014.
In the same area is the new Islamic World Garden and just further up, the Scroll Monument marking Sharjah being named World Book Capital in 2019. It stands next to the House of Wisdom.
By now, you’ll no doubt start to realise why Sharjah is considered the cultural capital of the UAE.
Turning into the University City, you’ll first pass through the ornate entrance, drive through the city to the other side passing the various buildings of the University of Sharjah, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah Police Academy and several other colleges and research centres. You can’t enter the AUS gate and can only admire it from afar, so below are a couple of shots from inside.
When you come out the other end, you’ll find University City Hall, Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre and the Martyrs Monument.
After passing these, continue on the S116 past Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences, Sharjah Performing Arts Academy, Al Qassimi University and the Holy Quran Academy. In good weather, you can easily walk between these buildings.
Arabic Architecture in Sharjah – Government Buildings
The other main area to head to now is Al Khan Government Building area. Here are just a few.
From here, you can also visit Souq Al Jubail, Central Souq, Al Noor Mosque, Al Qasba.
Arabic Architecture in Sharjah -Sharjah Corniche
A drive along Sharjah Corniche brings more traditional architecture still using Islamic principles in the Art Area and the Heart of Sharjah. A walk around both is a must and both have great cafes to stop off at.
Further down the corniche is Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation, Al Maghfirah Mosque and the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and Sharjah Business Women’s Council.
Two other must see buildings are Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Sharjah Municipality Building.
If you’re driving along the E611, stop off to visit Sharjah Grand Mosque built in Ottoman style and set in tranquil Islamic gardens. Personally, I like it best at night, but if you can, visit it both in the daytime and night time.
It doesn’t end there because there’s more to see both in the city and across the emirate! Here are just a few.
The ultimate viewing experience of Sharjah’s stunning buildings is during Sharjah Light Festival. Sadly, it didn’t take place in 2021, but let’s hope it’s back in full swing in 2022. You can see some photos from previous festivals here.
To add to this, Sharjah Architecture Triennial is a major platform for the Middle East, North and East Africa and South Asia.
Other places to visit around Sharjah