Located in Khor Fakkan Old Souq, Free entrance
Falaj Al Mualla is a quiet oasis town in the Umm Al Quwain desert. The fort is nearly 200 years old and overlooks the sand dunes where more watchtowers stand higher up and offering a clear view for imminent attacks.
The fort itself has the traditional courtyard style with the centre now having a nice green lawn and it’s a lovely place just to sit and enjoy the surroundings and the tranquility.
It now houses a museum with sections depicting Emirati heritage and also an archeological room with exhibits dating back to the first century AD to 6000 BC.
Opening times: Saturday – Thursday 8am-2pm, 5pm – 8pm, Friday 5pm – 8pm
Entrance fee: 5 dhs (it’s always nice to give the caretaker a little extra though)
Be sure to find the other towers around Falaj al Mualla.
Tayyibbah Heritage Museum has to have one of the best locations of museums here, set at the edge of a village in the Hajar mountains overlooking farms and itself in lush green grounds. Walking through the grounds, up and down winding paths, passing traditional houses and climbing narrow steps, you may feel like you’re not in the UAE at all.
Amongst the artefacts, you can find traditional items from Bedu and mountain lifestyles like water carriers, shields and weapons along with later additions such as old TVs and gramophones. There are even rocks with petroglyphs.
What’s even better is that you can stay there! The ‘resort’ area has two bedrooms, kitchen, pool and a majlis (seating area) with a stunning view of the mountains with the greenery in the foreground. I could quite easily just sit there gazing over the mountains all day long.
Other accommodation just down the road is Al Qalaa Lodge. Click here to see more.
Combine your trip to the museum with a walk on the nearby gentle hiking trail (around an hour) or a visit further down the road to the fort and Governor’s Palace in Masafi. It’s also a good stop off point on the scenic route to/from Dibba.
If you haven’t been already, take a trip up to Jazeera Al Hamra to see the RAK Fine Arts Festival in the fort and old village. What a great setting for an art exhibition! Enjoy seeing the restored fort and adjacent buildings as well as the unrestored houses at the same time.
The exhibition is open from 8-6 weekdays and to 10pm weekends when artwork is projected on to the fort also. On Fridays there are art productions and on Friday 13th there will be a StarWars themed event.
Other activities as part of the festival include film screenings, art workshops and tours.
For more information, visit https://www.rakfinearts.ae
For more on the old village of Jazeera al Hamra, see here.
Rams lies to the north of the city of Ras al Khaimah and relied on fishing and pearling in the past. You can still see many fishing boats going out today and Al Suwaidi Pearl Farm is flourishing.
Head over to the newly developed corniche for views of the harbour, drive around the town and look out for old buildings and watchtowers, visit the Museum of Beautiful Time and take a walk along the mangroves and look out for the myriad species of birds around, especially during the migratory season.
On the opposite side of the town, the early 19th century Dhayah Fort perches upon a hilltop giving a fabulous view across the whole town. In 1819 the fort was the last point of resistance when the village was attacked by the British in 1819. Despite the strong resistance, nearly 800 villagers were taken.
Behind the fort lie the Hajar Mountains with their mesmerising rock formations and the sandy plains below.
Don’t miss the relaxing and scenic boat trip around the coast and the visit to Al Suwaidi Pearl Farm where you’ll be surprised just how much there is to know about pearl farming. (Advance booking required) A few sneak preview photos below but click here to see and find out more.
I thought we would spend a couple of hours here, but you can quite easily spend a whole day. In fact, I need to go back to see more! Have fun exploring!
How to get there – take either the E611 and follow signs for Ras al Khaimah, then look out for the turn off to Al Rams and Oman shortly before RAK.
If you have time left over, Wadi Ghalila is just a few minutes further up the coast.
Some parents have been asking for ideas for what to do with their children during the upcoming school break and so I have compiled a list and sorted it into categories and a lot of them are educational. Some are repeated as they fit in more than one category. Those that I have written blog posts about include a link. Please remember I don’t cover anywhere in Dubai or Abu Dhabi as they tend to get enough coverage already. Also as this is a general list, there are some busier places you may want to avoid at this current time.
(The prices and information were correct at my last visit. If you find them to be different, please let me know. )
- Sharjah Science Museum (includes small play area for toddlers) 10dhs, children 5 dhs, under 3 free.
- Discovery Centre, Sharjah, Adults 10 dhs, children 5dhs, (currently closed)
- Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Science, Adults 22dhs, children 11dhs, children under four free, closed Thursdays (prebook ing required)
- Sharjah Airport (Mahatta) Museum (science of flight, avian and aeroplane) Adults 10 dhs, children (2-12) 5 dh, under two free
- Sharjah Classic Car Museum, Adults 10dhs, children 2-12 yrs 5 dhs
- Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Science, (space travel) Adults 22dhs, children 11dhs, children under four free, closed Thursdays (prebooking required )
- Sharjah Airport (Mahatta) Museum
- Sharjah Maritime Museum, 20 dhs combined ticket with Sharjah Aquarium
- Tour in a UniMog, Mleiha Archeological Centre
- RTA Water taxi between Sharjah Aquarium and Ghubaiba Marine Station, Dubai. silver class 15dhs one way, gold class 25dhs one way
- Abras, self-drive boats, pedaloes – Al Majaz, al Qasba, Ajman Marina, Al Rafisah Dam, Manar Mall Promenade, Rafisa Dam
- Sharjah Archeological Musem,
- Al Hisn Museum, Khor Fakkan (includes exhibitions going back to the Iron Age), 15 dhs, free under 12,
- Mleiha Archeological Centre, archeological sites free or paid tour, musuem 20 dhs
- Heart of Sharjah – Heritage Museum, Calligraphy Museum, Hisn Fort, Souq al Arsha, Bait al Nabooda, Bait al Hurma, Sharjah Heritage Museum, Souq al Shansiya, Sharjah Art Museum and Arts Area
- Museum of Islamic Civilisation, Sharjah, entrance free
- Al Miqsar Village, Khor Fakkan entrance free
- Al Hayl Fort, Fujairah entrance free
- Ajman Museum 5dhs (temporarily closed)
- Wadi al Helou Archeological site
- Jazira al Hamra ‘haunted’ abandoned village free
- Al Dhaya Fort, Rams, Ras al Khaimah free
- Fujairah Fort
- Bidiya Mosque, Fujairah free
- Awhala Fort, Fujairah, free
- Falaj al Mualla Fort, 5dhs
- Khor Fakkan archaeological site (old fort), Hisn Museum (later fort), various towers
- Tayyibah Museum, Fujairah free entrance
- Botanical Museum, Sharjah Desert Park 15dhs for all museums/centres in park, under 12 free, closed Tuesday
- Islamic Gardens, Sharjah Desert Park 15dhs for all museums/centres in park, under 12 free, closed Tuesday
- Mangrove forests, Ajman, UAQ, RAK
- Noor Island adults 35, child 20, butterfly house 15 dhs extra (combined ticket 2 for 1 in Entertainer)
- Walk through Old Residential Village, Wadi Shees
- Noor Island adults 35, child 20, butterfly house 15 dhs extra (combined ticket 2 for 1 in Entertainer)
- Arabian Wildlife Centre and Children’s Farm, Sharjah Desert Park, 15dhs for all museums/centres in park, under 12 free, closed Tuesday
- Wasit Wetlands Nature Reserve, 15dhs including buggy ride round lake, under 12 free, closed Tuesday (Current restrictions -no buggy ride or walk outside, max one hour visit)
- Kalba Mountain Conservation Centre, Adults – 25dhs plus VAT, children under 12 free
- Kalba Bird of Prey Centre, Adults – 15dhs plus VAT(free return within one month), children under 12 free.
- Buhais Geology Park, closed Tuesday
- Natural History Museum, Sharjah Desert Park, 15dhs for all museums/centres in park, under 12 free, closed Tuesday
- Discover Mleiha – Children’s workshops on fossils, paleontology – book in advance
- Dhaid Wildlife Centre, entrance 10 dhs for adults, children under 12 free, closed Tuesday (please note, there are no animals here)
- Sharjah Art Museum, free
- Sharjah Art Foundation
- Bait al Naboodah, free
- Bait Obaid al Shamsi free
- Calligraphy Museum, Heart of Sharjah
- The Rain Room art installation Adults 25dhs Children 6-12 15dhs, under 5s go free. Best to book in advance.
- Sharjah Flying Saucer (free)
- Arabic Architecture – Sharjah government buildings in Al Khan, Government House Roundabout, Quran Roundabout, University City, Sharjah, Sharjah Municipality Building, Sharjah Mosque.
Just for fun!
- Al Rafisah Dam – lake, play areas, picnic areas, nature, ducks, pedalos, kayaks, etc starting from 30 dhs.
- Khor Fakkan Corniche
- Kalba Corniche Park
- Kayaking and other water sports – Ajman Marina, RAK, UAQ, Khor Kalba
- Al Majaz Waterfront – restaurants and cafes, more happening 4pm onwards – mini golf, splash park, boats, car rides (pretend old style cars), multiple play areas, jogging track, park
- Al Qasba Canal – restaurants and cafes, paid play areas, occasional festivals
- Ajman Marina – play areas, boat rides, restaurants and cafes, beach, caravan site, birdwatching, golf
- Marsaa Ajman – waterfront restaurants, go-karts and bicycles to rent, floating restaurant (mostly closed mornings and early afternoon)
- Al Suwaidi Pearl Farm with boat trip, Al Rams, Ras al Khaimah 300 dhs, children 200 (?) dhs
- Discover Mleiha – dune-bashing, horse-riding, UniMog tour, workshops, stargazing and more (all need to be booked in advance)
- Jebel Jais – Sky Maze, Sky Tour, Sky Flight, food trucks, picnic areas, views, camping, hiking
- Promenade Manar Mall, Ras al Khaimah
- Fujairah Seven Peaks/Summits hiking trail
- Fujairah Adventure Park
Al Tawyeen Heritage Village in northwest Fujairah is a nice little stop on the way to or from Dibba if you’re taking Shohada Rd. It has several small buildings of different olden styles and small play areas.
One of the buildings houses a collection of artefacts and more recent items like old telephones, televisionss and radios.
Entrance is free and is from 8 to 8.
What else to do around Tawyeen
If you take the road to the right of the heritage village, you will find remains of a number of old buildings along the way.
If you have an interest in rock formations, on the other side of Shohada Rd, there are some great ones there. Click here to see more.
Visit Dibba al Hisn
Kalba is the furthest south of Sharjah’s five Eastern Region enclaves and has very diverse habitats for its size – mountains, plains with acacia forests, mangroves, beaches, marshes and palm groves. It is home to the Al Hafaiya Protected Area and Mountain Conservation Centre and Bird of Prey Centre as well as a lovely park with a hide overlooking the protected area and a great play area.
Al Hafiya Picnic Park is open from 9-9 weekdays and till midnight at weekends. Entrance is 5 dhs. The last two photos show the hide and the view over the protected areas from the hide.
Kalba also has several other parks including the Corniche park and Al Sidra Ladies and Children’s park, both of which have play areas, facilities, etc,. The Corniche park lies between the road and the beach. On the beach there are amusements for children such as bouncy castles, trampolines and go karts. The sand on the beach is the same as that of its neighbour Fujairah, so a darkish rougher sand. You can camp at the beach and also fish during certain times of the year.
Corniche Walk is further south opposite the government buildings and on Kalba Lake. There are plenty grassy areas to sit on with a view of the lake, mangroves and mountains. Pedal boats are available for hire here.
Qurm Mangroves are not as accessible as they used to be but you can still visit by booking a kayaking or paddling trip (in advance). Absolute Adventures do Kayak Kalba, Sunset Paddle, Sunrise Paddle and Full Moon Paddle. They do go in the mangroves, but not the inner channels which are now closed off.
You could also treat yourself to a stay at the Kingfisher Retreat, the first eco-retreat in Sharjah. Activities are also available from there.
(Photo credit for last photos – Kingfisher Retreat)
Whilst Kalba has a rich history, the fort and Bait Sheikh Saaed bin Hammad al Qasimi are currently undergoing restoration but should reopen soon. The fort will house a museum. Al Ghail Fort is open and situated inside the Bird of Prey Centre.
There are also archeological sites dating back to the Bronze Age around Kalba which are fenced off but some can be seen easily. A new site was recently discovered in Khor Kalba which is thought to be remains of a Portuguese castle.
For more on Al Hefaiya Mountain Conservation Centre and the Bird of Prey Centre, see the related post here. In the meantime, here’s a taster.
Finally a selection of photos around Kalba – a beautiful new mosque in white and gold, Sharjah government buildings in Arabic architecture styles, fish laid out to dry and the harbour.
Other places to visit nearby – Al Hayl Fort
The emirate of Sharjah places a lot of importance on conservation and these are just two of its many protected areas. Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre is set within a large area of rocky plains and small mountains and the Bird of Prey Centre is just a short distance down the road.
The Conservation Centre is home to Arabian tahrs, leopards, caracals, wolves and rock hyrax. Inside the centre you can also see snakes, lizards, toads, foxes, scorpions, etc..
Once you have finished your tour of the centre, head out to the front to take a short buggy ride (or take a walk) along the observation points of the outside areas.
The Bird of Prey Centre of course has many birds of prey such as eagles, buzzards, harriers and owls. My personal favourite is the Griffin Vulture. Shows are on in the arena at certain timings. There is one on at 4pm every day and also at other times on busier days so it’s best to check beforehand.
(Photo credit for last three photos – Visit Sharjah)
Within the gardens there are not only palms and acacias, but mango, orange, almond and sidr trees. There are also a few other animals, mainly goats, camels and cows.
Within the Bird of Prey Centre is the 200 year old Al Ghail Fort which is worth a climb up to not only to see the fort itself but for the view over Kalba and the plains and mountains. The fort has been restored and houses a weapons room. On the tower, notice the footholds which would have been used to reach the high door rather than the ladder which now leads to it.
Both locations are very educational with lots of information all around both for adults and children and a number of interactive activities for children. Guides are on hand to give you a tour or answer your questions. You can also see the animals’ and birds food being prepared in the kitchens.
Opening times for both: Sun-Thurs 9am -6.30pm, Fri 2pm – 6:30pm, Sat 11am-6:30pm, Monday – closed
Entrance to Mountain Conservation Centre: Adults – 25dhs plus VAT, children under 12 free
Entrance to Bird of Prey Centre: Adults – 15dhs plus VAT(free return within one month), children under 12 free.
Neither centre takes cards, cash only.
Tip – Take snacks and plenty of water.
Khor Fakkan has always been a favourite place for a nice little getaway but if you haven’t been for a while, you might be surprised at what’s new and also at parts you just never knew about.
It’s also no longer that long drive to Fujairah and up the coast. The new Khor Fakkan road cuts through the desert and the Hajar Mountains and takes not more than an hour from the junction on the E611.
The second half of the new road climbs winding roads through the mountains and five tunnels, the longest of which is 3km.
The road can also be accessed at other points along the way, the last being the Masafi-Fujairah road at Al Dafta. Khor Fakkan is also accessible from Fujairah and Dibba.
If you’ve been before, you’ll be familiar with the main beach, but it has recently undergone development and is now home to sports fields which can be hired, various play parks, a small skate park, food trucks, cafes, beach library, an inflatable water play area and lots of new seating areas.
At the southern end of the Corniche you can visit the archeological site of the Portuguese Fort which was built in 1635 and an adjacent village and farming area. Further down is the Hisn Fort Museum which relates the history of all parts of Sharjah Eastern Region. Behind the Museum is the restored old souq and Al Adwani Tower stands atop a hill at the end of the Corniche.
Inside the old souq you can also find the new Crafts Museum which is well worth a visit.
Up on the hill behind the museum and souq stands Al Rabi Tower which dates back to 1915. These towers and forts formed the defence network of Khor Fakkan. You can climb up to Al Adwani Tower from the road but you can either drive or walk up to Al Rabi Tower. Both offer great views over Khor Fakkan. From Al Rabi Tower, there is a hiking trail that takes you to the top of the next hill, the tallest in the town of Khor Fakkan. (Click here for more on Al Rabi Tower.)
Another place for a good view is Flag Square. You can drive up to the top. At the bottom of the road to Flag Square, there are beautiful fountains on four sides of the large roundabout. They are set in landscaped gardens and you can sit on a bench or on the grass and enjoy watching the mesmerising fountains with the mountains as the backdrop. You will also Resistance Monument on the other side, built recently under the orders of Sheikh Sultan to honour those who resisted against the Portuguese invasion in the 16th century. In the middle of the roundabout is a giant mabkhara, which is what Emiratis burn bukhoor in which gives a pleasant-smelling smoke used to perfume the clothes, body and home.