Seven best reasons to visit Sharjah

top reasons to visit sharjah - photo collage of places in Sharjah

Sharjah is still a hidden secret for many and yet it has so much to offer. Join me while I share some of my top reasons to visit Sharjah and why this emirate has captivated me and how it might just steal your heart too!

In a nutshell, the top reasons to visit Sharjah are for halal holidays, sober vacations, cultural destination vacations, family holidays, sustainable destinations, accessible vacations and nature. Tap on the table of content below this photo to open and explore sections or just continue to read all.

collage of photos around the emirate of Sharjah. Underrated travel destinations middle east 2024

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Reasons to visit Sharjah – Halal holiday destination

When it comes to top halal holiday destinations, Sharjah ranks high on the list. With its focus on maintaining an Islamic environment, adhering to religious values and celebrating Islamic culture, the emirate sets the scene perfectly for an authentic halal vacation.

Food and drink

As alcohol is not allowed in the emirate of Sharjah, you can relax knowing there will be no alcoholic drinks in the hotel minibar or any restaurants or cafes. Similarly, no hidden traces will be in your desserts or sauces when eating out.

best halal holiday destinations sharjah
breakfast at Arabian Fish House

As you’ve probably already guessed, there are no bars or nightclubs in Sharjah, so you can enjoy a serene atmosphere in your hotel without noisy nightlife.

Pork, pork derivatives and other non-halal food items are also prohibited in the emirate, so you can rest assured everything on your hotel buffet is halal without checking labels. Likewise, there are no non-Muslim sections in supermarkets. And in Ramadan, you can enjoy iftar with a different cuisine every day. For an Emirati iftar, try Al Fanar at Al Majaz Waterfront.

al fanar restaurant al majaz sharjah ramadan iftar, muslim vacation

Mosques and prayer facilities

Turning now to prayer, with over 3000 mosques, you will never have to worry about missing your daily obligations in Sharjah, as there’s always a place to pray within easy reach. Even parks, beaches and lakes often have small mosques. Places that don’t have a mosque, such as a nature reserve or mall, have prayer rooms complete with ablution areas. Both men and women’s sections are provided. You can also hear the call to prayer in every neighbourhood, mall, etc.

sharjah mosque

If you are travelling from another emirate, please note that the Friday prayer in Sharjah is still at the original time rather than the revised later time in other emirates that followed the weekend switch in 2022.

Eid prayers take place in the many eid prayer grounds around the emirate, with sections for men and women, and also at specific mosques.

Ladies-only destinations

Now let’s turn now to places and facilities dedicated to ladies. Sharjah Ladies Club is accessible to all ladies and membership isn’t required. Once inside the main building, you can feel free to remove your scarf while in the restaurant, cafe, beach, etc. Men are occasionally on site for maintenance but someone will let you know if this happens.

If you are not a club member, you will need to pay a fee to use the beach, however, I usually just enjoy a morning sitting outside on the terrace looking at the beach!

sharjah ladies club terrace and beach

The Ladies Club has branches across the Emirate of Sharjah even in small towns, so if you are resident in one of these areas, you might want to use their gym, pool, etc.

There are several ladies only parks across the emirate, such as Green Belt Ladies Park near Cultural Square. These are ideal places for exercising outdoors or enjoying a picnic with friends. All have walking tracks, trees, toilets and play areas. The age limit for boys at ladies only destinations is usually around 6 or 7.

green belt ladies park Sharjah

If you’re taking your halal holiday in the summer months, you can go to Al Montaza Theme Park on Tuesdays for ladies only day .

al montaza water park Sharjah - best Muslim friendly holiday destinations

You can also still find ladies only sections in some banks and many government offices. In general in the UAE, salons and spas outside of hotels are either for male and female. Most Sharjah hotels have separate spa and gym facilities.

Islamic Attractions

Let’s move on to activities and attractions. Sharjah offers plenty of options if you’re keen to delve deeper into Islamic culture. At the Holy Quran Museum, you can learn more about the history of the Quran and its sciences. Just a few kilometres away, you can continue learning about Islamic scholars at the Islamic World Garden.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization provides an insight into the past and present of Islamic science, art and thought. Across Sharjah’s museums, you will find references to the Quran. For example, at the Natural History Museum, the exhibition on the beginning of the universe includes relevant Quranic verses.

Similarly, the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences, popularly known as Sharjah Planetarium, includes verses related to space. At the Islamic Botanical Garden, the verses listed refer to plants and sometimes their benefits.

islamic botanical garden sharjah  - best halal holiday destinations - reasons to visit sharjah

If you’re surprised to see a connection between Islam and science, add these places to your itinerary to learn more. Other places of interest may include the Calligraphy Museum and Sharjah Mosque.

My favourite events of the year are the Islamic Arts Festival and the Sharjah Light Festival.
In February (sometimes early March), selected buildings across the emirate are illuminated with spectacular light shows, some with music. The Arabic architecture of many of the buildings provides the perfect canvas for the artworks.

sharjah light fetsival at university city hall - best holiday destinations for Muslim couples

The shows on religious buildings, such as mosques, have only light and no music, and the artwork incorporates Islamic designs, such as geometric and floral designs, arches, and so on. The mosques that feature every year are Al Noor Mosque on Buhairah Corniche, Sharjah Grand Mosque on the E611 bypass, and the Sheikh Rashid bin Hamed Al Qasimi Mosque in Dibba Al Hisn.

The Islamic Arts Festival, usually in December or January, features the main exhibition in Sharjah Art Museum and smaller exhibitions or solitary art pieces in art spaces or public places around the emirate.

islamic arts festival sharjah

These elements together position Sharjah as a top choice among the best holiday destinations for Muslim families.

My top hotel recommendation for your halal holiday in Sharjah is The Sharjah Sheraton Resort and Spa, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the beach, tasty alcohol-free drinks and food, separate spa facilities. Book your halal vacation at the Sharjah Sheraton Resort and Spa now.

Sheraton Sharjah resort and spa
  • 5-star, Excellent 8.4 on Agoda, 8.1 on Booking
  • Travel sustainable level 2
  • Private beach, spa, pools, restaurants, children’s play areas, sports facilities, water sports, salon, business centre, accessible rooms, sea view, balcony
  • Gold certificate for accessibility from WDU
  • Quick taxi ride to many locations, near walking and cycling tracks

Book Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort and Spa now

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Reasons to visit Sharjah – Sober vacation destination

Whether you’re sober, sober curious or just prefer an alcohol-free environment, Sharjah is the ideal destination for you. Local laws ensure alcohol is absent from hotel minibars, restaurants, and cafes. As this extends to food preparation, you won’t have to worry about alcohol in sauces and desserts when you eat out.

Of course, you can easily find lots of delicious drinks. Enjoy a sunset with delicious fruit blends or a non-alcoholic mojito.

Sober travel is becoming more popular worldwide, particularly with the younger generations, the health-conscious, and those seeking richer, more memorable cultural experiences, such as those mentioned in the section below. It’s also an excellent option for those in recovery.

(Note: Sharjah is the only emirate without an alcohol ban, so be mindful of this if you visit other emirates. Also, there is one exception to the alcohol ban in Sharjah but this is only for resident and non-Muslim expat members and not open to visitors.)

Book your sober vacation in Sharjah now

Reasons to visit Sharjah – Cultural destination

Sharjah is one of the top cultural destinations in the Middle East and should be on everyone’s Arabian bucket list. Proudly known as the cultural hub of the UAE, it has earned no end of accolades. To name just a few, Sharjah has been awarded the titles Arab Cultural Capital 1998, Islamic Cultural Capital 2014, and World Book Capital 2019. It recently featured in Time Magazine’s ‘Greatest Places 2023’.

Museums, art and architecture

The emirate is home to over twenty museums, including the Museum of Islamic Civilization, Calligraphy Museum, Art Museum, Natural History and Botanical Museum, Maritime Museum, Archaeology Museum and Airport Museum.

Interactive learning centres, such as Buhais Geology Park, Science Museum and Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre, are found across the emirate.

Art permeates the emirate, showcased in numerous art galleries and spaces and celebrated through unique events like Sharjah Biennial, Xposure International Photography Festival, the Light Festival and the March Meetings. Additionally, Sharjah Art Foundation offers a range of paid courses and free workshops.

Arabic architecture is another beautiful asset to the emirate. Most government buildings feature the intricate and distinctive style of Arabic architecture. Some of the most stunning buildings in the city include the Sharjah Municipality Building, the American University of Sharjah, the Holy Quran Academy and the Sharjah Mosque.

Sharjah municipality building - Arabic architecture, reasons to visit Sharjah

Look out for more Arabic architecture outside the city, such as Sharjah Maritime Academy in Khorfakkan, Kalba University in Khor Kalba and government buildings in all towns, big and small. See more of Arabic Architecture in Sharjah.

Other stunning examples of architecture are the House of Wisdom, the award-winning Butterfly Pavilion, and Bee’ah Headquarters, designed by the late, renowned architect Zaha Hadid.

beeah headquarters sharjah at night

Monuments are a prominent feature across the emirate, such as the Scroll Monument, Martyr’s Monument, Islamic Cultural Capital Monument and in Khorfakkan, the Resistance Monument.

resistance monument khor fakkan - Sharjah cultural destination Middle East

Festivals, fairs and exhibitions

Apart from the events mentioned above, Sharjah hosts a wide range of festivals, fairs and exhibitions, such as the Children’s International Film Festival, Children’s Reading Festival, Heritage Festival and temporary art exhibitions.

The renowned Sharjah International Book Fair, the largest in the region, attracts authors, publishers, and book lovers from all corners of the world. More than just a place to buy books, the fair is an interactive platform for literary discussions, workshops, and cultural exchange, making it a highlight for anyone who loves the written word.

sharjah children's reading festival at Expo centre sharjah

Theatrical and musical performances often take place at Al Majaz Amphitheatre and the Cultural Palace in Sharjah City, as well as at other locations and Khorfakkan Amphitheatre in the Eastern Region.

History and heritage

Lastly, let’s turn to historical and heritage sites. I frequently come across a mistaken belief that because the UAE is a young country, the area has no history. Nothing could be further from the truth! Archaeological sites date back several millennia and records from several centuries ago provide us with many details of life in days gone by.

The Heart of Sharjah provides an insight into more recent history. Here you can visit museums, a visitor centre and a theatrical association and even a boutique hotel, Chedi Al Bait, all in restored merchants’ homes. They provide a wonderfully unique setting for the Chedi and the nearby Al Serai Wing.

Next door is the restored Souq Al Arsah and further along, in Sharjah Art Area, are galleries in yet more restored homes.

  • 5-star, Exceptional 9.4 on Agoda, 9.4 on Booking
  • Travel sustainable level 3
  • Restored merchant’s homes with traditional decor
  • Spa, pool, restaurant, fitness centre, business centre
  • In the Heart of Sharjah, walking distance of fort, museums, Art Area, Sharjah Corniche and close to other sights

➡️ Book Chedi Al Bait now

In other regions, you can find a mix of restored buildings, such as forts, old homes and newer buildings in traditional architecture, some functioning as museums and other hotels, etc. See more under Sustainability.

Moving much further back in time, the UAE is home to many archaeological sites and Sharjah has its fair share. Mleiha in the Central Region is home to some of the best-known, such as Bronze Age tombs, horse and camel graves, and caves used for various purposes, including burials. In nearby Al Faya, evidence of human occupation goes back 220,000 years.

cave, archaeological site al faya sharjah

Book a Valley of the Caves Tour at Mleiha

In the east are forts from the Portuguese occupation in the 16th and 17th centuries and other sites dating further back. Wadi Al Helo is one of seven Sharjah sites on the tentative list of UNESCO Heritage Sites.

wadi al helo archaeological site sharjah on tentat
ive list unesco heritage sites

If your interest lies in natural history, you can visit the Natural History Museum and Buhais Geology Park. To learn more about local heritage, visit the Heritage Museum in Sharjah, Al Dhaid Wildlife Centre in the Central Region and Bait Saeed bin Hammad al Qasimi in Kalba. To know more about earlier history, visit the Archaeology Museum in Sharjah, the Archaeological Centre in Mleiha and Al Hisn Museum in Khor Fakkan.

Buhais Geology Park - Sharjah learning and culture destination

Book a guided tour of Buhais Geology Park and trip to Buhais Archaeological Site with Discover Mleiha

And so we see that Sharjah’s cultural offerings are diverse and rich, making it a destination where history, art, and tradition come alive. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or just curious about different cultures, Sharjah is one to add to your cultural destination bucket list.

My top hotel recommendation for your cultural holiday in Sharjah is Chedi Al Bait, where you can enjoy a relaxed stay in a rustic setting within walking distance of many cultural attractions. On the east coast, book yourself a night or two at the new Fort Guest House in Kalba or Nozal Al Rayaheen in Khor Fakkan. (See more on this under Sharjah Sustainable Destination below.)

Book your cultural destination vacation at Chedi Al Bait now

Buy The Ultimate Guide to the Emirate of Sharjah now to help plan your trip

sharjah guide book

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Reasons to visit Sharjah – Family destination

For people living in other emirates of the UAE, one of the most popular reasons to visit Sharjah is its fabulous range of places for children. Better still, many of these are free for children! But family outings aren’t just about the youngsters, it’s about the whole family. Sharjah family destinations are inclusive and there’s something for everyone and every age.

Museums and learning centres

Sharjah has over 20 museums and learning centres; many are interactive, for example, the Science Museum, the Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences, and the Natural History Museum. Some are free for children up to age 12 (EPAA Shj centres) and some charge a small fee of 5 to 10 dirhams.

You can visit many of these locations on the hop on hop off city tour, which is fun for kids too. Book Sharjah Hop On Hop Off City Tour now

Which places in Sharjah are free for children under 13?

Buhais Geology Park, Natural History and Botanical Museum, Sharjah Wildlife Centre, Children’s Petting Farm, Kalba Bird of Prey Centre, Al Hefaiya Mountain Conservation Centre, Wasit Wetlands, Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre and Al Dhaid Wildlife Centre are all free for children and resident senior citizens.

Al Montaza Park and other fun activities on the water

Al Montaza Park offers hours of fun at the Island of Legends and Pearls Kingdom. The Eye of the Emirates also stands in the theme park and gives a fantastic view over the lake and beyond. Buy tickets for Al Montaza Park.

Still on the water, you can take boat rides around Al Buhairah and Al Khan Lagoons and for a reasonable price, you can book a private tour. Book your private boat tour now.

You can kayak at Al Rafisah, Khor Kalba and even Khalid Lake in Sharjah. Or why not try a pedal boat or, better still, a doughnut so you can sit back and enjoy the ride? Aqua play areas are also found at several beaches.

Other activities for children include fair rides and play areas. The Big Balloon Ride or car rides at Al Majaz Waterfront are lots of fun for the whole family.

Places to visit in Sharjah for free with family

Let’s now look at some great free places in Sharjah for adults as well as children. All beaches are free except Al Khan Beach. Nakheel Oasis in Buhairah offers shade and lovely grassy areas to sit and have a picnic or just hang out with friends or family.

Further down, Al Majaz Waterfront is a popular place. You don’t have to spend any money to enjoy the lively atmosphere in the evening or the calm of the quieter mornings. The same applies to Al Qasba on the other side of the lagoon. The Quran Museum and art spaces like Bait Obaid Al Shamsi and The Flying Saucer are also free. In addition, all festivals and most fairs are free of charge and have free entertainment.

almajaz waterfront sharjah

Sharjah Art Foundation and Sharjah Museums Authority both offer free workshops. You can find more information on their websites.

Sharjah National Park and Rolla Park aren’t actually free but with an entry fee of a couple of dirhams, they’re pretty close! Other free parks outside the city include Shees Park, Kalba Lake Gardens and parks in small towns.

shees park khorfakkan sharjah

A safe environment

Safety is a key factor that makes Sharjah a great family destination. The UAE is known for its safe and secure environment, giving parents peace of mind as they explore with their children. In addition, there are places specifically designated for ladies and young children.

To sum up, Sharjah is a fabulous, family-friendly destination. With its educational centres, lush parks, exciting festivals and safe recreational spaces, the emirate caters to families in many ways. It’s these qualities that make Sharjah one of the top family destinations that’s both enjoyable and enriching.

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Personal experience of family destinations in Sharjah

Bringing up a young family in the northern emirates, we spent (and still spend) a lot of time at Sharjah destinations. The children always loved the learning centres, nature reserves, waterfront, parks, festivals, fairs, etc. For me, it was not only fun but also accessible on a budget. I’ve always found something to tie in with school topics, whether it’s space, transport, geography or almost any topic.

My teen’s favourite events are the Book Fair and Children’s Reading Festival. Her favourite destinations are Al Qasba, Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Noor Island and the Wildlife Centre. My mother’s favourites were Al Qasba, Heart of Sharjah, Khor Fakkan Beach and Mleiha. Wherever we went, there was something for every generation to enjoy.

wasit wetlands sharjah buggy ride round lake

To sum up, Sharjah is a perfect family destination with its wide variety of activities and its inclusivity, affordability and safe environment.

Reasons to visit Sharjah – Accessible destination

Sharjah accessible cit

Sharjah has been awarded a gold certificate as a ‘city friendly for people with physical disabilities‘ twice in recent years.

The World Disability Union has its headquarters in Sharjah and was unanimously voted to join an advisory committee to the UN following the constant efforts of the Sharjah Government in supporting the rights of people with disabilities.

world disability union plaque sharjah

Several mosques have been awarded gold or silver certificates from the WDU. Find Sharjah mosques with gold and silver WDU accessibility certificates here.

Sharjah aims to make amenities and experiences accessible to all, including those facing physical or mental challenges in their everyday lives.

The emirate was the first to establish a club for the disabled (Al Thiqa Club), the first to provide sign language at the Friday khutbah, or sermon, at Ahmed bin Hanbal Mosque, and strives to cater to everyone in the community.

Ahmad bin Hanbal Mosque in Sharjah, exterior view, accessible mosque

Before going further, let me explain local terminology. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UAE, introduced the term ‘People of Determination’ (POD) to replace the more negative words disabled and handicapped. The focus shifted from disability to the determination of the individual. It recognises the challenges People of Determination overcome daily and empowers rather than inhibits.

people of determination logo uae showing text 'people of determination' linked to a wheelchair

What does this all mean for visitors to the Emirate of Sharjah? Accessibility is a priority in all facilities, so museums, learning centres, and other amenities have ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, wheelchairs, and portable stools available for use on-site. Most have automated doors. Many also have lowered reception desks for wheelchair users.

Many outdoor destinations have club cars to take you from the car park to the main area or on a tour and some have special buggies for a wheelchair to go in, for example on the tour around the lake at Wasit Wetlands.

By their very nature, older buildings such as forts and old houses may not be able to provide all services, such as automatic doors or permanent ramps, but assistance will always be on hand.

Beach access for People of Determination and floating wheelchairs in Sharjah

For those with a physical condition that prevents them from going into the sea, Sharjah has the perfect solution. Three beaches provide floating wheelchairs that allow the Person of Determination to fully experience being in the sea. Fully trained lifeguards are available for assistance, and this can be gender-specific to ensure a comfortable experience.

Sharjah floating wheelchair sharjah beach, Sharjah disabled beach access, Sharjah floating wheelchair
Sharjah floating wheelchair

Special mats go down the beach to the sea, allowing the floating wheelchairs to cross the sand easily. These same mats can be used by those who don’t need a wheelchair but have difficulty walking on sand. As well as providing a flat path, the surface has a grip to prevent slipping.

The floating wheelchairs are available at Al Khan Beach, Al Hamriyah Beach Park and Sharjah Ladies Club. I recommend you call in advance to book the service. It is free of charge but you will need to show a POD if you are a resident or some other form of card, such as a disabled parking card from your country of residence if you are a visitor.

mobimat al khan beach sharjah, Sharjah disabled beach access

If you don’t have a special card, please call the specific locations for advice. Accessible showers are available once you’ve finished your relaxing dip in the Arabian Gulf.

Al Hamriyah Beach, which sits further up the coast from the city of Sharjah, goes a step further. A golf buggy can collect you from your car in the car park and take you to a dedicated gazebo for wheelchair access so you can really enjoy this beautiful Blue Flag beach. When you are ready, the lifeguard can take you into the sea in the Mobichair. Complimentary wheelchairs are also available.

Disabled access to gazebo at Al Hamriyah Beach, Sharjah disabled beach access

Al Hamriyah Beach holds a gold certificate from WDU, while Al Khan has a silver certificate.

Sharjah Museums Authority and Accessibility

Let’s turn to other types of accessibility assistance. Sharjah Museums Authority are working to be inclusive to all and provide different means for people to experience their exhibits using a variety of senses. For example, they regularly run workshops for children with autism and organise tactile tours of specific exhibits for the visually impaired with information in Braille.

Some museums, such as Sharjah Archaeology Museum, can provide an audio guide and hearing loop. If you would like a tour in sign language of any of SMA museums, please contact them in advance to allow them enough time to arrange this.

The World Disability Union (WDU) has awarded the Accessible for Disability certificate to some museums, including the Museum of Islamic Civilization and the Maritime Museum. Note the lowered information/interactive boards for wheelchair users in the photo below.

sharjah maritime museum lowered displays with wheelchair access

For UAE citizens and residents, a POD card allows free access to all museums and all EPAA Sharjah centres (see more below) except Sharjah Safari. One carer, sometimes two, can also go free. Resident senior citizens with one carer also get free entry at most locations, while some offer discounts. You can read more about discounts for resident seniors here.

Public buses include wheelchair spaces, as does the Sharjah Hop on Hop Off Sightseeing Bus and the ferry to Dubai from Sharjah Aquarium. Malls, souqs, parks, waterfronts, etc are generally very accessible and have complimentary wheelchairs available at the information desks.

complimentary wheelchairs al hamriya beach sharjah

Personal experience of Sharjah accessibility

Although I am fully able, my mother had multiple forms of arthritis as well as other health issues, but visited us often in Sharjah and loved to go out.

Destinations in Sharjah were fully accessible to us, whether she was in a wheelchair or using a stick. The only issue I remember facing was being unable to go to a higher seat when attending a concert at Al Majaz Amphitheatre as there was no lift. Assistance was also always at hand when needed. (Khorfakkan Amphitheatre holds a gold certificate from WDU)

Here are a few photos of my mother (and her young sidekick) enjoying Sharjah destinations without any difficulties or restrictions.

Collage showing personal experience of disabled access in Sharjah destinations, including Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Islamic Botanical Gardens, Al Qasba, Al Majaz Waterfront and Al Noor Island

Accessible hotels in Sharjah

If you’re ready to book your holiday in the accessible destination of Sharjah, here’s a list of hotels with World Disability Union certification to help you.

Hotels in Sharjah holding World Disability Union Gold certificate

Sheraton Sharjah resort and spa
  • 5-star, Excellent 8.4 on Agoda, 8.1 on Booking
  • Travel sustainable level 2
  • Private beach, spa, pools, restaurants, children’s play areas, sports facilities, water sports, salon, business centre, accessible rooms, sea view, balcony
  • Gold certificate for accessibility from WDU
  • Quick taxi ride to many locations, near walking and cycling tracks

Book Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort and Spa now

Hotels in Sharjah holding World Disability Union Silver certificate

Hotels in Khorfakkan Sharjah holding World Disability Union Silver certificate

After arriving at the accessible Sharjah airport and taking an accessible taxi to your accessible hotel, you’re all set to explore the many accessible destinations in the Emirate of Sharjah!

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Reasons to visit Sharjah – Sustainable destinations

Next on our list of the best reasons to visit Sharjah is the emirate’s latest portfolio of sustainable destinations. Shurooq, Sharjah’s Investment and Development Authority, is working tirelessly to put the emirate at the forefront in many fields and its commitment to sustainable tourism in Sharjah is high up the list.

We now find ourselves in a time where sustainable travel is becoming increasingly important to help us minimise the damage to our planet and the local ecosystems. It is also more in demand as people become more aware of the issues. Shurooq is leading the way in creating sustainable destinations across the emirate, with several already operating and several more in the pipeline.

Shurooq’s strategy for building sustainable destinations is to offer unique experiences that minimise environmental impact while respecting and preserving the natural and cultural heritage of Sharjah. Many Sharjah sustainable tourism projects are repurposed buildings, such as Al Faya Resort, Najd Al Miqsar and the Heart of Sharjah. (Sharjah Art Foundation also has a number of repurposed buildings.)

Part of Shurooq’s sustainability programme is sourcing food, etc locally as much as possible to support the local community.

najd al miqsar khor fakkan before being repurposed into a resort

Let’s look at the eco-friendly resorts in Sharjah that are available right now. The first nature-inspired eco-destination is Kalba Kingfisher Retreat. Set on a peninsula near the mangrove forest, it offers tranquillity and a place to disconnect from city life and reconnect with nature. The views over the ocean, the mangroves and the mountains won’t disappoint. Book Mysk Kingfisher Retreat.

bridge to kingfisher-retreat kalba

Also in Kalba is the newly-opened Fort Guest House, a handful of villas down intriguing alleyways in the Heritage District of Kalba.

Further up the coast, in Khor Fakkan, book a stay at Nozol Alrayaheen in the restored old houses of Khor Fakkan Heritage District, an ideal spot from where to explore Khorfakkan old town and corniche on foot. Book Nozol Alrayaheen.

nozol alrayaheen hotel Khorfakkan sharjah sustainable hotel

At Mysk Moon Retreat, set on the plains at the foot of Al Faya Mountain, you’ll have your own luxury pod and private pool. This is a real retreat so there’s no catering. Bring your own food to barbecue or you can order in from one of the nearby restaurants. Book Mysk Moon Retreat.

glamping pod on plains with mountain behind, moon retreat uae, sharjah sustainable toursim

You could easily miss Al Badayer Retreat in Al Badayer Desert, as it blends in so beautifully with the surroundings. Choose a luxury tent with a private pool or a room and enjoy the clean desert air. Al Madam Restaurant serves delicious food and in Ramadan, it’s the perfect setting for an outdoor iftar. The retreat has its own mosque where you can pray with the resident imam. Book Al Badyer Retreat.

badayer resort sustainable travel sharjah

Not so far away is Al Faya Retreat, on the plains of Al Faya overlooking the mountain. This five-bedroom retreat and spa can also be rented in its entirety so you have the resort to yourselves. This is a great option if privacy is important to you. Book Al Faya Retreat.

al faya resort sharjah collection, sharjah sustainable travel

A little further down the road is Mleiha Glamping in the desert at the foot of Mleiha Mountain. While staying here you can add on extra activities such as a desert hack, star gazing, a Unimog ride in the desert, a hike or an archaeological tour.

Back in Sharjah city, Chedi Al Bait and Al Serai Wing, restored merchant homes in the Heart of Sharjah, offer a bit of luxury with a unique heritage touch. The location is ideal for exploring nearby locations on foot or jumping on the Sharjah City Sightseeing Bus. Book The Chedi or Al Serai Wing.

inside chedi al bait sharjah collection hotels

Upcoming Sharjah sustainable travel destinations to be completed in 2024 and 2025 include Jebel Resort and Najd Al Miqsar in Khorfakkan (set to open February 2024), Al Breidi Resort at Sharjah Safari and Nomad Glamping in the Kalba mountains (set to open end 2024).

If you’re on a tight budget, the best sustainable option for you is the Sharjah Heritage Hostel in the Heart of Sharjah. You’ll share a room but the surroundings are so peaceful in this beautifully restored home with its delightful inner courtyard. Book Sharjah Heritage Hostel.

As well as eco-resorts, Shurooq has also developed Sharjah Sustainable City and several sustainable parks which are in keeping with the local environment, such as Al Hefaiyah Picnic Park in Kalba.

Other sustainable destinations under Shurooq include Discover Mleiha and Al Noor Island and Butterfly House.

Sharjah has also been the forerunner in the region when it comes to recycling. The goal of zero waste is now very close as it recovers or recycles a wide range of materials from everyday plastic, aluminium, etc. to building waste and tyres.

Across the city, you can find different recycling points with dedicated containers for rags, e-waste, cooking oil, etc. What cannot be recycled will be incinerated and converted to energy. An example of recycled material you will see on your visit is the many jogging tracks made from recycled tyres. If you’d like to learn more about Beeah, visit their website here.

beeah recycling centre sharjah

When staying at one of Sharjah’s sustainable destinations, you aren’t just witnessing the emirate’s beauty and culture but becoming a more responsible and sustainable traveller. So, what are you waiting for? Book your sustainable destination through the links below.

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Reasons to visit Sharjah – Nature and outdoor destination

Sharjah is not just a cultural attraction but also a haven for nature lovers. The emirate offers a surprising variety of natural landscapes that appeal to everyone, from avid birdwatchers to beach enthusiasts and is home to several nature reserves.

Nature reserves in Sharjah

The Environment and Protected Areas Authority Sharjah (EPAA Shj) manages several nature reserves and protected areas. The authority’s primary goals are to protect the environment, wildlife and biodiversity, to create awareness and support sustainable development. The EPAA Shj learning centres play a vital role in that. They also provide affordable and enjoyable days out for visitors and residents alike.

exterior of kalba bird of prey centre, Sharjah UAE

Sharjah nature reserves like Wasit Wetlands provide excellent opportunities to observe wildlife in their natural habitats. The reserves have multiple conservation programmes breeding locally endangered species. The Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife is situated at Sharjah Desert Park and is a centre for research on animals specific to the region.

At the Arabian Wildlife Centre, you will only find animals which are or were indigenous to the region, such as leopards, hedgehogs, gerboa, snakes and ibex. It’s worth visiting and we’ve been many times over the years, especially in the summer as the viewing area is all indoors. Only the larger animals are outdoors.

Next to the Arabian Wildlife Centre is the Children’s Petting Farm where visitors can feed goats and sheep and see camels, horses, ponies, donkeys and cows close up. At certain times, pony rides are available for a fee. The entrance fee to Sharjah Desert Park includes entrance to all parts. It is free for children up to 12, POD and resident seniors.

Sharjah Safari in Al Dhaid is the biggest safari park outside Africa and has over 120 different species. The reserve is around 16 sq km and the park 8 sq km. It has sections with different habitats and is home to giraffes, lions, antelopes, crocodiles, white rhino and much more. Tickets for Sharjah Safari come in three tiers, so you can visit the sections according to the ticket price.

Giraffes at Sharjah Safari, Sharjah Wildlife Park

Soon, you’ll also be able to stay here in a luxurious resort in Shurooq’s upcoming expansion of this sustainable destination. You can already stay within Khor Kalba Protected Area. See more on that in Sharjah Sustainable Travel Destinations above.

If you’re looking for places to see migratory birds in UAE, Wasit Wetlands is ideal not only for its natural environment but for the hides that are dotted around the lake. There are information boards inside and outside to learn more about the birds that migrate to and via the Arabian peninsula.

Lake and greenery at Wasit Wetlands Nature Reserve Sharjah,  Sharjah conservation area

There are currently eleven protected areas, but not all are open to the public. As you drive towards Al Dhaid, look out for oryx among the ghaf trees in Al Dhelaimah Protected Area. You can read more about the Protected Areas on the EPAA Shj website.

Other EPAA Shj centres include Kalba Bird of Prey Centre, Al Hefaiya Mountain Conservation Centre and Buhais Geology Park.

al hefaiya mountain conservation centre

Other places to see animals in Sharjah

Sharjah Aquarium is run by Sharjah Museums Authority and is a marine aquarium built into the coastline. You can walk through the aquarium tunnel where you’ll be surrounded by a variety of species in all shapes, sizes and colours. Some of the smaller aquariums show marine life in specific areas of the emirate, such as the mangroves of Kalba or reefs of Dibba Al Hisn. See more of Sharjah Aquarium here.

At the Butterfly House on Al Noor Island, you can see a variety of butterflies and depending on the time of your visit, also caterpillars and chrysalises in various stages. See more on Al Noor Island below. Buy tickets for Al Noor Island and Butterfly House here.

Sharjah Aquarium - top reasons why you should visit Sharjah

Variety of landscapes and habitats

As the emirate stretches from east to west and north to south, it encompasses a range of habitats and diverse landscapes to admire. The only emirate with a coastline on both the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, it has dozens of beautiful beaches. You will have plenty of opportunities to walk along the clean white sand, swim in the clear water, spot fish, crabs and other crustaceans and look out for visiting birds, such as Socotra Cormorants, egrets, plovers and curlews.

Dibba Al Hisn beach Sharjah UAE

Enjoy the mangroves at Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre on the eastern coast or take a boat out to Shark Island for some snorkelling and underwater photography.

Between the two coasts lie desert with sand of different hues, gravel plains dotted with ghaf, acacia and other flora, mountains and wadis, and oases with farms.

Visit Al Rafisah Dam to enjoy the lake, kayaking, hiking or The Walk. At Shees, relax in the mountain park, follow the nature trail in the old village and learn about biodiversity. In Wadi Al Helo, look out for different types of flowers after the winter rains. Stop off at Mleiha for a desert hack and stargazing from the rocky hills.

Book a desert hack at Mleiha

Graded hiking trails in Sharjah currently include Al Rabi Tower, Swaifah, Al Rafisah Dam to Suhub Rest Area in Khor Fakkan and Kalba- Ghayl Dam in Kalba. You can also hike in Wadi Al Helo, Al Nahwa and Al Faya. Fossil Rock is by permit or with an organised group only. See more on some of these and other hiking trails in the UAE here. New hiking and mountain bike trails are set to open soon.

Parks, green areas and beaches

When it comes to natural surroundings, Sharjah has so much to offer – mountain parks, stunning beaches, hidden oases, mangrove forests, landscaped islands and more.

Within the city, there are many green areas, such as Rolla Park full of banyan trees, Al Mureijah Gardens and the Urban Garden in the Heart of Sharjah, Al Nakheel (Palm) Oasis in Buhairah, and Wasit Wetlands. The most stunning and probably the most surprising too is Al Noor Island with its different habitats including a cactus garden, meadows, silk floss trees and a maze. When you visit these green havens, you won’t even remember you’re in the city.

al noor island reasons to visit sharjah

Buy tickets for Al Noor Island and Butterfly House.

Outside the city, Sharjah National Park, Shees Park, Al Rafisah Dam, Al Dhaid Oasis and Kalba Mangroves all await. Smaller parks are found in every corner but some may be for local residents only. The Islamic Botanical Garden at Sharjah Desert Park is often missed but provides a lovely quiet retreat.

One of our favourite things to do is the nature trail at Shees Old Village. As we walk through the farms and enjoy the shade of the trees and views over the mountains, we can learn lots about the local biodiversity from the information boards.

Lastly, with a choice of five beaches in the city and many more elsewhere in the emirate, you’re spoiled for choice! All have beautiful white sand looking out to a calm sea which changes from turquoise to green to silver through the day.

In a nutshell, there are so many reasons to visit Sharjah. Whether you’re looking for a halal holiday, a sober vacation, a cultural destination, an accessible destination or a getaway to a sustainable destination, Sharjah’s got it covered! With history, art, fun, beautiful nature, festivals and fabulous places to stay, there’s something for everyone – families, couples and solo travellers.

Now that I’ve convinced you of the many reasons why you should visit Sharjah, you can hop over to the ‘How to plan your trip to Sharjah’ post and get started!

Let us know your favourite reasons to visit Sharjah in the comments below.

Don’t forget to buy your copy of The Ultimate Guide to the Emirate of Sharjah to make the most out of your trip and see even more reasons to visit Sharjah!

Buy The Ultimate Guide to the Emirate of Sharjah now to help plan your trip

sharjah guide book

Buy Exploring the Emirate of Sharjah – walking, cycling tours and itineraries

exploring sharjah book cover and sample

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Buy tickets for upcoming sport events and concerts in Sharjah and other emirates


  • What are the largest nature reserves in UAE? Sharjah Safari is the largest nature reserve in the UAE. See more above
  • What are the best places to visit in Sharjah at night for free? Some options are Al Buhairah, Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba, Kalba Lake, Khorfakkan Corniche, Al Rafisah Dam, Dibba Al Hisn Canal.
  • Where can I go in the sea in a wheelchair in UAE? You can do that at Al hamriya Beach and Al Khan Beach in Sharjah. Ladies can also do it at Sharjah Ladies Club. See accessible destination above for more info.
  • Is Sharjah good for disabled people? Yes, it is very accessible. See accessible destination above for more info.


  1. What an amazing post. It’s clear that Sharjah has stolen your heart. Many years ago, I caught a bus from Dubai to Sharjah for the day and spent many pleasurable hours around the waterfront. I now realize I should have booked several days. Congratulations on such a comprehensive and detailed review.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. You should definitely come back! There are so many changes and new places to visit.

  2. San

    Sharjah has much to offer to visitors along with amazing food options. The places like calligraphy museum really amaze people.

    1. Yes, there’s so much to discover down alleys and in hidden courtyards.

  3. […] is my favourite time of year in Sharjah as that’s when buildings across the city, and the emirate, provide a canvas for […]

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