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 this has been disrupted since 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.
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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.
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 there 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 including the central and eastern regions. It’s definitely one of Sharjah’s many cultural activities not to be missed.