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

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!

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/

Al Qasba

There’s so much going on at Al Qasba!

Al Qasba is both a lively and relaxing place to be. With matching buildings in Arabic architecture on either side of the canal housing restaurants, cafes, bookshops, a theatre, musical centre, a business centre and art centre and plazas, immaculate gardens, dancing fountains and children’s play areas and boats to hire on the canal, there’s something for everyone.

Sharjah is both very family-focused and an emirate full of culture and Al Qasba is a perfect example of how it is providing places for families to go out and enjoy time together and offering cultural and educational activities.

You can find all kinds of restaurants, such as Lebanese, Italian, Mexican, etc, all with indoor areas and outside terraces. If you fancy something lighter, there are coffee shops and ice cream outlets.

Although a couple of these photos are now out of date as the famous Eye of the Emirates big wheel has only just been dismantled to be rehoused at Al Montaza Water Park, there are still many attractions.

At one end in front of Caribou, there are musical fountains with scheduled performances. In between performances, children (or even you!) can have lots of fun running through them. Be sure to bring appropriate shoes though so they don’t hurt their feet on the metal grid. And although there are enormous walk-in driers, they don’t always work, so bring a towel.

Next to the fountains, there is also a traditional Emirati coffee shop where you can sample local drinks and snacks.

At the other end of the building on the same side, there is a fun play park with a separate area for toddlers. (Entrance fee 15dhs for unlimited time.)

Next to the play park is an area with rides for children and on the opposite side of the canal there is an indoor play area.

You can hire a BYKY, a small go-kart to go up and down the canal side (after 4pm). Or if you prefer to go on the canal itself, you can hire a waterkart to use yourself (all day in winter, after 4pm in summer) or you can go on an abra around the lagoon.

Or perhaps you’d prefer to unwind at Body & Soul Spa or work out at their gym. Or you might catch a play or a film at Masrah, the theatre, which hosts film festivals, musical shows and the like. They also offer drama classes for children at the weekend.

The Maraya Art Centre hosts exhibitions and offers workshops and talks and Furat Qaddouri Music Centre offers clssses in music, ballet and arts.

Kalimat, Sharjah’s very own children’s Arabic book publishing house has a bookshop near the indoor play area. As well as housing lots of great books for children, it has a cafe and in the winter months hosts children’s workshops and movie nights.

Mothers of young children are well catered for under Sharjah’s mother and baby friendly approach. Clean spacious cabins are available for feeding and changing with comfortable upholstered rocking chairs along with a small play area to occupy older siblings

Al Qasba mosque is yet another example of fine Arabic architecture. The Friday sermon is read in English here and it can get pretty busy.

Finally, there are several festivals throughout the year which take place at al Qasba, for example, the Light Festival and the Food Festival, Choir Festival, Indian Festival, Sharjah World Music Festival and Qasba Street Festival.

So what are you waiting for? Come and see one of the most vibrant and beautiful areas of Sharjah for yourself!