Resistance Monument

In September 1507, the coastal town of Khor Fakkan was invaded by the Portuguese but the inhabitants resisted and fought to defend their home town with all that they had. Lives were lost and atrocities committed. It was the practice of the Portuguese at that time to cut off prisoners’ noses, ears and sometimes hands.

It is in the honour of those strong-willed Khor Fakkan townspeople that the Resistance Tower was built under instruction of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.

Sheikh Sultan said at the laying of the memorial foundation stone, “It is a blessed day that we laid the foundation stone of a building beautiful in design and great in the meaning it carries, raising its head at the entrance of the city of Khorfakkan to tell the complete history of this city to the whole world. This building will include a park for those who come to Khorfakkan seeking pleasure and knowledge. This building will add beauty to the beauty of the city andthe memorial building standing tall on this mountain will be in the shape of a helmet to symbolize the resistance in the city.” (Source http://sheikhdrsultan.ae)

The Portuguese, under Governor Alfonso be Albuquerque, were taking towns all round the Indian Ocean and Gulf coasts, including Julphar, or modern day Ras al Khaimah, in order to monopolise trade in the Indian Ocean.

In Khor Fakkan, you can visit the site of the Portuguese Fort near the sea front and also learn more about the history of Khor Fakkan the other eastern enclaves of Sharjah at the nearby Hisn Museum.

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Heart of Sharjah

The Heart of Sharjah is the oldest part of the city and such a quiet haven, you’ll often forget you’re even in a city.

The area is being restored and redeveloped so some places are under currently closed, but most are open including the beautiful hotel, Chedi al Bait. If you are not a guest, you can still visit for a coffee, to dine or relax in the spa.

There are several museums in the area – Heritage Museum, Bait al Naboodah, Calligraphy Museum and Hisn Fort. Entrance is 10 dhs each or 20 dhs for all. Whilst this usually includes Al Eslah School Museum, this is currently closed. Majlis al Naboodah is also worth a visit to learn more about Sharjah’s rich history.

Normally, the Calligraphy centre is open for classes and the Calligraphy Studio and Society open for events, but not currently due to covid-19.

Other areas to visit in the Heart of Sharjah are Souq al Arsa and the adjoining Souq al Masqoof. Here you can find antiques and artefacts as well as modern souvenirs, shawls, silk scarves, etc.

After finishing your shopping, you can enjoy traditional tea or coffee in the courtyard or head to Al Bareed for coffee, a pastry or ice cream in flavours such as konafa cheesecake.

In the opposite direction of the fort, you can find the peaceful gardens and children’s play area as well as the Arts Centre where you can sign up for classes and nearby the Iranian Mosque.

If you are still hungry for more, take a walk along the corniche dotted with dhows and head up to Souq al Shanasiya and Sharjah Arts Area. Click the links to see more. You might want to fit in a stop at the Arabian Tea House for some traditional Arabic food and drinks and to watch the world go by.

Sharjah Natural History and Botanical Museum and Islamic Botanical Gardens

Although many people visit the Arabian Wildlife Centre, not many seem to visit the other parts of the Desert park. As with all of Sharjah’s museums, they’re very well done and you’ll notice something different with each visit.

The Natural History Museum takes you on a journey through millions of years of history of the area of Sharjah before exploring fossils, different stones, etc. As it covers so much, I find it’s a place we return to again and again depending on what topic is being covered at school and there’s something for all ages.

During your visit, you will learn about the beginning of the Earth, tectonic plates, creatures from long ago, fossils, marine life, fungi and many other topics. For younger children, the dinosaur exhibition is usually their favourite part.

It has a lot of interactive stations where you can test, for example, the difference of a human, goat and camel foot walking on the sand, the effect of black and white on temperature, the effect of wind direction on sand dune formations.

Sharjah is not only rich in its love of knowledge, science and culture, but is also known for its adherence to Islam and many of their events have an Islamic flavour to them. And so reference is made throughout the exhibition to verses from the Quran and early Islamic scholars and scientists. This may come as a surprise to non-Muslims as it is a common misconception that there is a contradiction between Islam and science.

Once you leave the natural history museum, you’ll pass some of Sheikh Sultan’s butterfly collection and enter the botanical museum which has a lot of interactive stations. At the time of writing, halls G8 and G9 (see floor plan above) are closed for work.

There is a gift shop at the entrance to the Botanical Museum where you can buy science kits and related items. There is a small cafe which now only sells ice creams and cold drinks and isn’t always manned.

You may want to have a rest, picnic or play before moving on to your next stop. The grassy area continues over to the right so there’s plenty room to find a quiet spot.

The next stop is the Islamic Botanical Gardens. Again reference is made throughout to the Quran as many plants are mentioned in its verses. It also make mention of traditional medicine, particularly in the early Islamic days.

Notice the geometrical designs, the water and canals, all a main feature of Islamic gardens.

There is a cafeteria which serves coffee and nice cakes, muffins and savoury snacks. There is also a wall display within the cafeteria.

Of course, if you have time left, you can go on to the Wildlife Centre and the Children’s Petting Zoo or save it for another day. That will be covered later, but in the meantime, here’s a little taster.

  • Entrance to the Desert Park including all museums, Islamic garden, Wildlife Centre and Petting Zoo: Adults 15.75 dhs, children under 12 free. School trips 2dhs.
  • Sunday – Thursday 9am -6:30pm
  • Friday – 2pm – 6:30pm
  • Saturday – 11am – 6:30pm
  • Tuesday: closed
  • Location – Dhaid Rd/Airport Rd intersection 9.
  • Cafeteria selling hot meals and snacks in Wildlife Centre with a view of the outdoor animals.

Hamriyah Beach, Sharjah

Hamriyah lies on the coast between Ajman and Umm al Quwain and is mostly known for its free zone and industry, but it’s also home to a beautiful 3 km beach with white sand and clear, clean water which may be a shade of turquoise, green or silver depending on the weather and time of day.

There are two sections to the beach each with a separate entrance. The lower part has a 2km rubberised jogging track that runs along the beach and shades and a few gazebos. It also has toilets with a shower and POD toilet. There is also an entrance to the beach for People of Determination nearby.

The upper beach has a few seating areas, two children’s play areas, shaded barbecue areas and individual unshaded barbecues. There are no toilets at this end but it tends to be quieter, has a nicer view and there are lots of shells to collect. If you have a camper van, you’ll need to park at this part of the beach. You can park right on the shore.

There are lifeguards stationed all along the beach but there are currents and shelves along all of Sharjah and Ajman beaches so care should be taken.

To access the lower beach, look out for a gate in what looks like a park fence. You can park right at the shore. For the upper beach, take the off road entrance. The first is marked as Hamriyah Public Beach and the second as Hamriyah Town Beach on Google Maps.

There is a breakwater between the two so you can only walk the full length of the beach by climbing over it.

Hamriyah Town also has a nice park and a heritage village where cultural events are often held. Sharjah Waterfront, a new development, is currently under construction south of the beach.

Buhais Geology Park

Buhais Geology Park sits on the plains at the foot of Jebel Buhais near Al Madam. Although it may look small it has a wealth of information in the exhibition halls and a great outdoor trail. I often drive through the mountains and sand dunes in awe of some of their formations and across gravel and rocky plains and after my visit to the park, I understand them so much better.

Hall 1 explains the overall history of the land surface on the earth such as tectonic plate movements and geologic timescale, with a special focus on the areas of the emirate of Sharjah.

Hall 2 is very interactive and explains different types of rock and their formations, types of sand and sand dunes, formation of alluvial plains, fossils, climate change, etc. There are interactive stations to suit all ages.

The outdoor trail takes you through Wadi Suq tombs (Bronze Age) and various rock formations. Spot fossils in the rocks. At the peak of the trail you can see right across al Faya and Aqabah Mountains and the plains to the Hajar Mountains. There are a couple of rock benches along the way to stop and just sit and enjoy the scenery and tranquility.

The exhibition is fully bilingual and there are guides to take you around if you wish. There may not be an English-speaking guide but the information is so complete, you really don’t need one and you can go at your own pace.

After you’ve finished your tour, you can have some refreshments in the cafe overlooking Jebel Buhais. (The menu is mainly burger type meals from what I saw and delicious cakes and fresh juices.)

If you prefer, you can find a spot on the plains along the main road to have a picnic, spot birds and butterflies and identify trails left by birds, animals and insects.

You can also visit the other archeological sites further down at Jebel Buhais. Here are a couple of them.

Note that the climate in this area is different from the coast. It’s cooler than the Gulf coast in the winter and hotter in the summer, but there’s no or little humidity which makes it more pleasant in the summer. You may need something warm in the winter.

I had a very enjoyable and extremely informative afternoon at Buhais Geology Park and I hope you do too!

  • Entrance fee: Adults 10.5dhs, children under 12 free
  • Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 9am-7:30pm, Fri 2pm-7:30pm, Sat 11am-7:30pm, closed Tuesday
  • Wheelchair accessible (outdoor trail has a wheelchair accessible path going directly to the peak but you can do around 2/3s of the trail itself before getting to steps and turning back.)
  • Prayer and ablution rooms
  • School/university trips 2 and 5dhs per student respectively

Water is freely available for topping up your bottle. Well done, Sharjah!

  • What’s nearby?
  • Discover Mleiha
  • Al Faya Retreat
  • Jebel Buhais Archeological sites

Sharjah Art Area and Sharjah Art Foundation

If you love art, or you just love wandering through traditional buildings, Sharjah Art Area is the place for you. Set back from Sharjah Corniche, it consists of several buildings. From the Corniche, enter Bait al Shamsi which was built in 1845 and was most recently the home of Obaid Al Shamsi. It was renovated in 1997 and has since also been known as The Hall of Arts. Of the many rooms off the courtyard, 13 have been designated as studios and contemporary artists from around the world are invited to exhibit their work there. In the evening, artists gather their to discuss their work.

Next walk through the side entrance past the Emirates Fine Arts Society and you will come to Sharjah Art Museum which hosts temporary exhibitions. At the time of writing, Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival was underway. A few of the exhibits can be seen below. The Museum also has a library, a cafe and a small shop.

Opposite the Art Museum and next to Sharjah Art Foundation office is Bait al Serkal, home to another gallery. The building itself was built in the 19th century and was originally the home of the British Commissioner and in the 1960s it served as the first hospital in Sharjah. It was restored between 1993 and 1995.

Alongside art exhibitions, Sharjah Art Foundation also organise film festivals, film screenings, music and performance programmes, residency programmes for artists, opportunities for interns and volunteers to gain experience. They also offer workshops and events for the general public such as ceramics, painting and drawing, sculpting, engraving and printing and mural painting.  The workshops are free and aimed at adults, children, families and families with disabilities and take place on Saturdays whilst the courses cost around 500 dhs and run weekdays with morning and evening options.

Sharjah Art Foundation runs activities across the emirate include the central and eastern regions. It’s definitely one of Sharjah’s many cultural activities not to be missed.

To view current exhibitions and other events visit Sharjah Art Foundation.

Opening hours: Saturday – Thursday 8am -8pm, Friday 4pm-8pm

Entry: Free