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

Al Noor Island and the Butterfly House

Their own words from their wesbite really sum up Noor Island well – “A microcosm of modern vision and Arabic inspirations, the Island offers the best mix of recreation, art, education and entertainment for the entire family.”

Noor Island is situated in Khalid Lagoon and is yet another of Sharjah’s nature spots where you can just completely forget that you’re in the middle of a built-up city. It boasts a lush landscape with a wide variety of plants and habitats including a small meadow of long grasses and a cactus garden. There are several impressive Silk Floss trees dotted around along with a variety of species which have been saved and planted on the island. Whilst walking through the gardens, enter the maze and try to find your way out, admire the sculptures and art installations, wonder at some of the fossils such as the 35 million year old stone tree from Indonesia and the amethyst crystal from Brazil and the rock crystal, take a selfie in the golden egg-shaped sculpture or take a seat on the artistic benches and watch the many birds flying round the treetops. Once you’ve done all that, take time to relax in the Literature Pavilion with a good book or if you have children, head to the playground which has a stretch of ropes forming walkways, climbing walls, etc. There is also a trampoline walkway to bounce along (but it is currently closed for work).

Of course, a vital part of the island is the Butterfly House with 22 different species. Walk through the trees and see the butterflies fly around and they might land on you too. Search the stalks for caterpillars and see the different stages of pupae and cocoons in a special hanging area. If you visit in the morning, you might see a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. If you go later in the day, you’ll see butterflies already emerged hanging out to slowly open their wings and dry before taking flight.

There is also a cafe inside the Butterfly House structure with both indoor with a small activity area for children. The cafe also has outdoor seating.

It’s open until 6pm weekdays but stays open late at the weekend and the gardens are lit up in different colours making it seem even more like an enchanted island. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours and just relax and forget the hustle and bustle of city life. It can also be booked for venues. What a great location for a wedding, birthday party or team-building event!

Noor Island has won several prestigious international awards and The Butterfly House has won multiple international awards for Architecture and Design and you won’t be disappointed.

Admission to the island is 35 dhs (20 for children 3-12) and 15dhs (10dhs for children) to the Butterfly House (Combined ticket available for 2 for 1 in The Entertainer). There are various other activities with extra charges such as Yoga at Sunrise (ladies only), Junior Butterfly Keeper, Skywatchers after sunset. See their website for more details.

The entrance is next to Al Noor Mosque on Buhairah Corniche and there is plenty parking. Have fun!

Mleiha

Mleiha has long been one of my favourite places and should really be on everyone’s must do list.

The scenery in Mleiha is simply stunning from mesmerising rock formations, rolling sand dunes, desert meeting mountain on Fossil Rock to sandy plains and lush gardens.

Take a stroll through time, choose one of the many exciting activities on offer, or just relax and enjoy the view.

Archeology

There are numerous sites scattered around that go through various ages starting all the way back to the Palaeolithic Period 130,000 years ago. Visit caves used in the Stone, Iron and Bronze Age and Faya Cave which was used by peoples through all periods including the Ice Age when it was used as a shelter. In front of the visitor centre, you can also find the restored tomb dating back 4000 years to the Bronze Age.

Whilst there are information boards at many of the sites, your visit should include the museum located in the visitor centre where you can see some of the artefacts discovered in the digs carried out by teams from Australia, Spain and the UAE amongst others.

Don’t forget to visit the many other archeological sites on the other side of the main road including Mleiha Fort and the horse cemetery.

Activities

Why not spend the night camping in the desert? Discover Mleiha have their overnight stays in tents at the foot of the mountains including trekking, stargazing, barbeque dinner and breakfast and after watching the sun rise. All this for only 350 dhs and 250 for a child. You can also add on horse-riding or a dune buggy adventure. And if you don’t wish to stay overnight, you can opt for the Sunset Lounge package.

Other activities include dune-bashing, dune buggies and for the kids there’s a ride through the desert on an awesome UniMog (see workshops.) Take a guided tour to the top of Fossil Rock or Camel Rock and watch the sunset.

You might also choose to go horse-riding on a hack through the desert. Or you if you’re a beginner, take a training session at the arena.

Workshops for children and adults in and out the museum. Learn to be a palaeontologist,  or learn about geology, astronomy and the local flora and fauna. Several packages are available but should be booked in advance.

Finally stop off at the Bistro in the visitors centre where they serve delicious smoothies, juices, cakes, sandwiches and you can enjoy a beautiful relaxing view from both indoors and outdoors.

Whatever you choose, I’m sure you’ll have an amazing day!

And finally here’s just a few more photos!

Al Rafisah Dam

Al Rafisah is another of my favourite places to go. It has recently been developed as one of the many areas created for families to enjoy in the emirate of Sharjah.

It has been beautifully landscaped and is a real riot of colour. Bees, butterflies and other insects can be seen amongst the foliage along with many species of birds. Gazelles live on an island on the opposite side and ducks, herons and other aquatic birds live on the lake.

The water level of the lake fluctuates according to the rain and the ruins which can be seen in the summer months are partially or wholly under water in the winter months.

There are several types of boats such as kayaks and pedal boats which can be rented out at very reasonable prices.

There are many seating areas, picnic areas and four play areas, two for toddlers and two for older children. There is also a cafe and a small co-op selling snacks and drinks.

As it may get busy in the holidays and weekends, you can follow the signs to The Walk, a path along the foot of the mountains with many sheltered benches where you can rest and enjoy the view or sit and chat with friends or family.

Be sure to drop in to the tourist office too to discover the other gems the Emirate of Sharjah has to offer.

Location: Khor Fakkan Rd, Khor Fakkan. Emirate of Sharjah.

 

Sharjah Light Festival 2019 – A Journey of Lights

February 6 sees the start of the annual Light Festival. Art works can be seen on prominent buildings across the emirate of Sharjah for ten days. Just when you think the beautiful Arabic architecture of Sharjah’s government and university buildings can’t be any more beautiful, the elaborate light shows prove us wrong.

You can try and see as many as possible yourself but you will probably see more if you use the new route of the Sharjah Sightseeing Bus.

You could also grab a bite to eat at the Sharjah Light Festival food truck area opposite University City Hall.

Visit the website to see a full list of venues.

https://www.sharjahlightfestival.ae/en/

Churches in Sharjah

 

There is often a misconception that other religions cannot be practised in Muslim countries and that there are no churches or temples. However, the government of Sharjah allotted land to various churches in the Yarmook Area of the city and several different churches of different denominations can now be found there.

Related Articles

https://gulfnews.com/going-out/society/russian-orthodox-church-is-a-community-gateway-in-sharjah-1.1035956

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwi-7sfOxaLgAhVRJhoKHWqfBWwQzPwBegQIARAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thenational.ae%2Fuae%2Fpractising-their-faith-in-peace-1.310792&psig=AOvVaw20w-MR0w5nvgBuCZyN_f9Z&ust=1549385689828305

Al Mahatta Museum

A trip to Al Mahatta Museum is great for kids learning about transport or the science of flight or anyone who wants to know more about the history of Sharjah.

The museum is in the building of the original airport which was the first in the Trucial States. It was initially just a basic airstrip in the 1920s but become a major airfield in the 1930s when a deal was struck between the Ruler of Sharjah and the British Government allowing it to be used by the Imperial Airways, primarily as a stopover on the route to India and later, Australia. Prior to the existence of the airport, the area was just salt flats.

The runway was extended in the 1940s by the British Royal Air Force in the 40s and it was used up until the 70s.

In the aircraft hanger several old aircraft can be seen including a Comet (1953) and VC10 (1962) as well as a section of an old Imperial Airways aircraft with the original seating, cockpit, etc .

The next building was a rest house for passengers, offering two different classes. It now houses a gallery of old photos of the airport, passengers, etc and various exhibits including engines, pilots’ log books, air tickets, etc,

The third section is used for temporary exhibitions by the municipality, for example, on city planning.

The next section is a large section all about the development of flight, from insects right through to the most modern rockets.

Finally, there is a theatre showing old news footage of Al Mahatta Airport.

Don’t miss out on this window into the historical development of Sharjah and fabulously laid-out exhibition on The Development of Flight.

Entrance fee: Adults 10 dhs, children (2-12) 5 dh, under two free

Opening hours: Sat – Thurs 8am – 8pm, Fri 4-8pm

Location: Al Estiqlal St, al Qasimya. 25.3460° N, 55.3960° E

Free parking available inside.