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Although a couple of these photos are now out of date as the famous Eye of the Emirates big wheel has only just been dismantled to be rehoused at Al Montaza Water Park, there are still many attractions.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

 

 

Sharjah Science Museum

Another fun and educational place in Sharjah is the Science Museum. Although not big compared to others of its kind, there are many nteresting exhibits, most of them interactive. Learn how the heart works or explore optical illusions, test out laws of physics, identify insects and arachnids or find out more about different types of energy. The list goes on. There’s something for all ages and all interests and with the wide range of topics, there’s sure to be something relevant to what children are learning at school.

There are staff with a scientific background on hand (you’ll see them in white lab coats) to explain more about the topics exhibited if you wish. They also run shows in the theatre in the mornings in either Arabic or English according to the visitors they have in at that time.

Every Friday throughout the year there are family workshops in English and Arabic. The workshops last around an hour.

During school holidays they also run bilingual summer camps for one to two weeks. The next one will start on 31 July and registration opens 1 July. The camps run every weekday until 1pm.

The centre also has a free play area for younger children whilst older ones are looking around.

In the foyer, you can find the Science Museum Shop and a cafe.

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

Entrance fee: Adults 10 dhs, children 5dhs.

Location: al Abar, Sharjah (next to Sharjah TV and Archeology Museum, near Quran Roundabout)

Wasit Nature Reserve

If you’re looking for an oasis of peace in the middle of the city, this is a perfect place to visit.

Wasit Nature Reserve, also known as Wasit Wetlands, is a protected area in Ramtha and is home to over 200 species of birds as well as a number of mammals, reptiles and rare insects. This is due to its diverse landscape – wooded area, salt flats sand dunes and a large lake.

Alongside nearby wetlands like Ajman Creek, it provides a stop off point for migratory birds in the spring and autumn.

From the indoor centre, you can observe a variety of birds in habitats similar to those they would normally live in and you can learn about the various species. There are a few interactive games for children. From the cafe, you can sit and watch flamingoes, herons, etc on the lake.

The centre also has an education room and a theatre where you can watch videos and a shop selling books and souvenirs.

Outdoors, you can take a free trip around the lake in a buggy (a disabled friendly buggy is available). There are eight hides with binoculars at different points around the lake. It’s a five kilometre walk around the lake, although you may have to argue your case to walk round by yourself! If you can, it’s a beautiful walk in the winter. In the hotter months, the buggy trip is doable with the breeze.

On your way round the lake, you’ll probably spot gazelles too.

This is a must-do for birdwatchers and fun for a family outing.

Opening times Sun-Thurs 9am – 5:30pm, closed Tuesday.

Friday 2-6pm

Saturday 11-6pm.

Entrance fees: Adults 15dhs. Children under 15 free.

Location: Al Ramtha, Sharjah (on border with Ajman) It is easy to access from all Emirates from the E311.

(Note: on recent visits, the cafe hasn’t had much other than snacks and cold drinks, but it does offer a great place to sit and enjoy the view)