Sharjah, the third largest of the emirates that form the United Arab Emirates as a country, is literally the next northeast of Dubai, with Sharjah City, its capital. Basically, it is a continuation of Dubai. Once you cross the Dubai Creek it’s not even a kilometre farther and you are already there. The only clue which alert you are in a different emirate and different city are the signs in the road. As for the look of it, you could never tell if you have left Dubai. The emirates are so small and the cities so long along the coast that you move in a continuous urban area. Abu Dhabi being the largest, the remaining 6 emirates are tiny and together towards the tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
Although not as spectacular as Dubai, it is rapidly kicking off with lots of projects going on. Construction, like everywhere in the Emirates, is at its peak. I imagine the city in few years time, certainly hard to recognise to what I saw during this trip.
There are only 2 reasons why would you want to come here. I cannot think on any other, unless you are just curious to know how it looks and to say you have stepped on it. One, the beaches. There were absolutely empty! Nice sand all along, and many kilometres of it. The promenade, Corniche, runs parallel and was also really nice for walking (bearing the intense heat). The whole promenade just for yourself, rarely someone else, oddly some random tourist here and there.
And the second reason, because it is in this Emirate where you can enjoy the many desert safaris on offer from Dubai. The city is only by the coast, but behind it not far inland, is the vast desert, full of incredible sand dunes where you are guaranteed to have a great experience going up and down at speed on a 4×4 jeep.
Other than this, Sharjah is mostly a destination anyone staying in Dubai will go and back in the day, however things are changing. Its international airport is becoming another gateway into the Emirates itself, with generally lower fares than flying into Dubai. Hotels and resorts are also booming along the cost, and many holiday packages now include this place rather than more expensive Dubai. So what this all tell you? It is a good alternative in order to save a lot of money while at the same time still having a top experience and quality, and right next door to the Old Town of Dubai.
For more information about Sharjah check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. The United Arab Emirates currency is the Dirham (AED). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Sharjah
- Beaches Empty, quiet and very nice, there is a big choice even considering the small size of the emirate and limited coastline.
- Corniche This is the main waterfront avenue. New buildings keep rising and rising. A nice picture is that of the Corniche, the sea and the Ferris wheel on the far.
- Desert Safari Without doubt, this is the main reason why coming here. Basically, those tours can be booked across many companies, but all meet in the dunes of Sharjah. We opted to book our tour through Isango. It resulted to be the best option at the best price. The tours include the pick up from your hotel, no matter if you are anywhere in Dubai, Sharjah or neighbouring cities, at approximately 15.00pm. They drive you to the beginning of the desert (of course including that mandatory yet unnecessary stop at the tourist shop), and then the fun starts. It is a full hour of ups and downs with some time to enjoy at the dunes and make plenty of pictures. For your peace of mind, the driver has plastic bags in case you get sick, just saying. Thereafter the experience, you will be driven to their designated place for dinner. You will get to enjoy the sunset in the middle of the desert along the way. Once you reach the dinner place, you can also ride a camel for few minutes, included in your tour. The dinner is a BBQ finger food style, although not the best, was more than enough quantity and choice. During and after dinner, there will be a dancing show. The tour ends with a drop off back at your hotel.
Sharjah International Airport has grown to become a good alternative to Dubai, at lower fares. of course the destinations served are just a fraction compared to gigantic Dubai one. It’s a matter of few minutes’ bus drive to the city centre, or other places in neighbouring Dubai and Ajman emirates. Dubai Airport is actually located at a similar distance to the centre of Sharjah
Coming overland is the most common anyone would do, especially when staying in Dubai. Although buses are not the most frequent, these are reliable and fast. Yet the best option is to have a rental car, and be free to move anywhere, even continuing along into the next emirate, Ajman. Again, you will only realise you entered a new emirate by the road signs, otherwise it feels as a continuation of the city of Dubai!
There’s not much I can say here as we stayed over in Dubai, however the choice in Sharjah keeps expanding yearly, with great resorts and hotels all around, offering more competitive fares than in Dubai. What is best, is that you are literally next door to Dubai, so truly a good option to also consider.
Dubai in the other hand must be one of the few cities I’ve been with such a gigantic, vast and incredible choice. But be prepared for the high prices. 4 and 5 stars hotels are very expensive, unless a good deal becomes somehow available. In any case, a 3 stars hotel anywhere in the Emirates has the quality of what a 5 star would be in many European countries. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo or Ebookers.
From our experience, we can highly recommend the Hotel Centro Mall of the Emirates, Road 329, Al Barsha 1, PO Box 115060. A great property, beautiful design, comfortable, super clean, offering a fantastic breakfast, and having an splendid pool on the roof top terrace which we could use every day, morning and night. Their opening times were the longest I’ve seen on any hotel, and we were actually told by the receptionist that soon would be 24h opened. Conveniently located near the Emirates Mall and the metro station Sharaf DG.