Two Weeks in Sharjah + Ajman (United Arab Emirates)

After two weeks in Dubai, we moved to another Emirate of the seven United Arab Emirates: Sharjah. It’s a short taxi ride away from Dubai, depending on where you stayed in Dubai. Sharjah surrounds the main portion of another Emirate called Ajman (pronounced: ADZH-man). ‘AED’ stands for their currency, the Dirham.

Things to Do in Sharjah

The following is a big list of things to do in the Emirate of Sharjah, irrespective of if I’ve done this activity. Some of them we wanted to do but the activity was closed because of COVID-19. At other times, we found out too late about this activity. There are some things you might enjoy that we didn’t do in Sharjah. You can also find all of them on the map below!

  • Have butterflies sit on you at Al Noor Island ✅
  • Visit Flag Island and enjoy amusement rides, such as the Eye of the Emirates Ferris wheel
  • Travel out of the city to Mleiha Archaeological Site and Fossil Rock
  • Sample and buy dates and fruits at the Souq Al Jubail ✅
  • On the other side of Ajman, visit Sharjah’s Hamriyah Heritage Village and beach
  • Watch a race in the early morning at Al Tallah Camel Race Course
  • Learn about this special art form at Sharjah Calligraphy Museum
  • Walk in the rain without getting wet at Sharjah Rain Room ✅
  • Rent a jet ski at Al Mamzar
  • Join a tour at Al Noor Mosque and learn about Islam
  • Go people-watching at Al Majaz Waterfront and Park ✅
  • Go bird watching at the Wasit Wetland Centre
  • Visit the Museum of Islamic Civilization and admire the dome’s ceiling art ✅
  • Look at all the gold in Sharjah’s Central Souq ✅
  • Nearby Sharjah’s airport, visit the Sharjah Classic Cars Museum
  • Admire the size and architecture of the King Faisal Mosque ✅
  • If fish are your thing, visit the Sharjah Aquarium
  • If boats are your thing, visit the Sharjah Maritime Museum
  • Play paintball at Sharjah Paintball Park
  • Photograph the dhows at Corniche Promenade at golden hour ✅
  • Learn about space at the Sharjah Academy of Astronomy, Space sciences & Technology
  • Wander around the ‘Heart of Sharjah’ Heritage Village ✅
  • Outside of the city, learn about plants at the Islamic Botanical Garden
  • Admire the beauty of the Al Zahra Mosque ✅
  • Visit the enormous Sharjah Mosque that needs so much space it’s outside of the city
  • Learn about the early days of aviation at the Al Mahatta museum
  • See some Christianity at Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Orthodox Parish, St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, and St. Philip the Apostle Russian Orthodox Church
  • Visit the alienesque Sharjah Art Foundation, which is housed in a flying saucer

Map of Things to Do in Sharjah

Use the sidebar to make points of interest appear/disappear.

13th February: Arriving in Sharjah for the First Time (14 Days)

During our first stay in Sharjah, we did a lot of day trips in the city and around the bordering emirates. Sharjah is how we fell in love with the UAE.

Click to read about our arrival in Sharjah

We arrived at our new hotel (Spark Residences) in Sharjah after the medium-length Careem ride from Dubai. Jonas had arranged that we could check in early, so we only waited for a short time in the lobby until one of the receptionists called us. She asked if we wanted one big bed or two small beds, and her male colleague said something along the lines of “They obviously want one bed (You silly!)”

Once on the correct floor, the housekeeping staff was still around. A scrappy lady pointed us to the right door and we entered a very dark room. It’s becoming a pattern that when you enter a hotel room for the first time, all the hardcore curtains that block all light will be drawn. The place felt cold until we opened the curtains and received some daylight. The hotel is next to a mosque by the name Um Almo’umneen Um Habiba Mosque, surrounded by high rises such as ours.

Jonas and I started unpacking and moving everything immediately into place to feel at home. We installed our HDMI cable and shoved some chairs out of the way to make the dining table a desk. Jonas also found out how the AC works, which I don’t think will be necessary till summer because the room is still frisky, especially the stone floor. I haven’t worn socks in a year, but I guess it’s time again. Jonas tested the internet speed and was more than satisfied with the result. “Maybe we should extend here so I can do my conference from here,” he said. “That would mean we’re in Sharjah for a whole month,” I shot down. This isn’t Malaysia. We won’t get more than 90 days in the United Arab Emirates.


After moving in and sharing Heidi’s guest post about Transnistria with the world, we went to a vegetarian restaurant just behind our building called Al Jalsah Al Malakiah for some thali and paneer. I think the place is North Indian. Usually, they serve this kind of food on metal trays, but it’s become a pattern that these businesses use styrofoam everything and plastic cutlery. I’m not sure if this is a pandemic measure to protect dishwashers against our germs or if there’s a massive shortage of dishwashers in the UAE, but I’m not a fan of this. The food, however, was great. And cheap, at AED 33.

The next stop was the supermarket. There are so many supermarkets in our neighborhood called Al Qasimia. The blister on my foot from the ice skating was hurting, so we went to the nearest-by supermarket to the veggie restaurant. It’s next door and goes by the name of Amber.

The reviews of this supermarket said it does lots of discounts and free samples on the weekend. It was quite busy, perhaps because of those discounts. We stocked up on olive oil, Arab bread, Puck, cheap blueberries, and strawberries, and some cheeses. Then we came to the dates and nuts section, which we still don’t know how to navigate. Jonas enjoys that the guy who scoops also lets you try the product before you buy. We got a bag of very cheap plain pistachios and another of even cheaper dates. This is living the high life.

All supermarkets in the UAE look smaller from the outside than they actually are. There were so many other sections full of nice products. We don’t expect to do much actual cooking, but we can make some simple stuff. I found another display fridge that was so full of products I couldn’t see the guy behind it ready to scoop some Kalamata olives or fresh butter. The words “fresh butter” intrigued me, so we got a container with more butter than I’ve ever seen before for only AED 4.

The guy also gave us some free sweets, which we didn’t understand. First, we said “no thank you”, but he insisted it’s free and we should take it. It’s those sweets with a barcode, so we really didn’t believe it would be free. Jonas discretely scanned the item at one of the scanners to confirm it’s indeed for free. The reviews didn’t lie!

We left the supermarket feeling absolutely happy.

The rest of the day, we spent in our room cooking up food, watching Elite on Netflix, and sharing Heidi’s guest post on social media. So far, we like Sharjah.

14th of February: Sharjah’s Al Noor Island

Al Noor Island butterfly park Sharjah


Today it was time to see something of Sharjah. My blister felt a little better, although I didn’t feel like pushing it with the distance I can walk. We decided to walk from our aparthotel to the nearby Al Noor Island. On the way to the island, we passed the Al Noor Mosque. I read some stuff that non-Muslims are allowed to visit at certain times – perhaps on a tour like Dubai’s Jumeirah Mosque – but I couldn’t find any info. I even bravely joined a group called something like “Sharjah expat ladies” and it was full of kiddie stuff. No one there was any the wiser. It’s probably closed due to… you know what.

Al Noor Island was a lot of fun. The entry price was 50 AED per person, which includes entry to the butterfly garden. It’s all very shiny and new. We noticed that the butterflies liked to land on my hair thingy because it features a depiction of flowers. Ooh boy were those butterflies disappointed.

Butterfly garden park in the UAE

We wandered around the island on the fancy boardwalks, met a cat, jumped on some trampolines, and then left the island to walk along the Khaled Lagoon to the Al Majaz waterfront. Nearby is Falafel Frayha, which sells stuffed falafels with creamy cheese or other stuff. It’s fantastic food and the generous people gave us all sorts of delicious things we didn’t order. I failed to not overextend my feet this day, so we took a taxi back. Good thing everyone knows where our hotel is.

15th of February: Indian Vegetarian Food

Introduction to malai kofta!

On this day, we simply worked and ordered food at home on Talabat. In the evening, we went to the Indian restaurant called Noor Al Shams. It showed up as a vegetarian restaurant, so that sounds good. There we tried a new (for us) Indian dish called malai kofta. Though I know “kofta” means meatball, this is definitely vegetarian. And it was absolutely mindblowing.

16th of February: Central Souk of Sharjah

Sharjah City Souq al Jubail date sampling

The juiciest dates™

After some morning typ-typ, we walked to the Al Ittihad Park and the kind of brutalist King Faisal Mosque. There’s a monument in the park to the pearling history of Sharjah. The mosque has some overhanging concrete that gives off these brutalist vibes, but you have to search for this angle.

We walked to Flafel Alrabiah AlKhadra Cafteria, where we ordered fatteh with pinenuts for the first time. I am a sucker for pinenuts and these were huge. What is strange, though, is that they had paper placemats with a message in Arabic that they had crossed out on ours. My reading skills in Arabic were very basic at this point, but I could make out some words that showed it was a religious message.

From there, we walked past Sharjah’s bus station to the souks of Sharjah. This is difficult to get to on foot because like the rest of the country, the city is designed for cars. We were looking for bus info and prices to Al Manama and other places around the country. It was a bit of a shit show to find the entrance to the bus station and then also the exit, especially with covid rules. But we found the info we needed.

At the Souq Al Jubail, we tried to survive the hard-selling of the many vendors. Some people really like that, but we generally don’t. And we also don’t like to haggle. The souk is in a nice building and has different sections so you can avoid the meat and fish areas. We spent 25 AED on a box of the thickest, juiciest dates. I really wanted to spend money on these for once instead of the more modest-looking dates because I want to know what it’s all about. Of course, you get a free sample of many dates. So by the time we were about to walk out with our (giant) box of dates, we were experiencing something of a sugar rush.

We walked under the bridge that leads to Flag Island and quickly visited the Central Souk of Sharjah (Souq Al Markazi) with its gold souk. Fun to look at, but in the end not our thing. But the building is nice.

We took a taxi home again and unpacked our dates. Is this too many dates, or the right amount? How do we keep it safe from ants? Is this a delicious liability?

17th of February: Museum of Islamic Civilization + Al Zahra Mosque

Shajrah Museum of Islamic Civilization ceiling dome zodiac

The juiciest dates™

One of the places I wanted to visit the most in Sharjah was the Museum of Islamic Civilization. Both for the exhibition as well as the building; the central dome features an exquisite representation of the constellations.

It cost us 10 AED per person to enter. We spent several hours inside looking at astrolabes and old globes. The staff gave everyone these horrendous plastic gloves to wear because of covid. Not that we’re touching anything—we’re not children. Our hands got very sweaty inside these sandwich bags.

But the top floor where the ceiling was visible from wasn’t open to the public because of covid. And still, I didn’t want to visit this place without seeing it, so I asked some staff if I could go up to check it out. They said yes. When I was there, there was a guy sitting on a chair who was ready to send me away. I said I had permission from his colleagues, but he wasn’t amused. I still managed to take some photos.

Afterward, we went to the waterfront to eat a small falafel sandwich and drink tea. We walked along the corniche past the moored dhows and through a small neighborhood to Sharjah Fort. We didn’t enter the fort to see the museum exhibition there, because we’d had plenty museum that day. This led to the Heart of Sharjah Heritage Village, which is a section of traditional houses that are restored. They were building up for some event.

But the real final goal for today was visiting Al Zahra Mosque around golden hour. This mosque looks a lot more like the ones in Iran. I don’t know if it’s also a Shia mosque, but its colorful tiled minarets with muqarnas are very beautiful.

After that, we went to a supermarket to cook some stuff for ourselves and then returned to Spark by taxi.

18th of February: Blogging

Nothing to report. We just went to Noor Al Shams for food.

19th of February: Al Khan Beach

Al Khan beach UAE

The juiciest dates™

We took a taxi from Spark over Flag Island to the area close to Al Khan Beach. We exited the vehicle a little early with the idea of walking from Sharjah Public Beach to Al Khan. Except that the beaches here were privatized by hotels and it wasn’t possible to walk at the water continuously. So we returned to the main road and walked via the sidewalk which was also a bit of an afterthought.

There we passed Al Talaa Ancient Tower and the humble mosque next door to go to the beach. We decided not to swim in the end, but there were a few people in the water. Instead, we walked onto the breakwater, which is just across from Al Mamzar Beach Park in Dubai. The water here forms the border. Dubai of course spawned a lot of people on jet skis.

Then some people from beach management drove to us to tell us not to walk on the breakwater. Okay, fun police… We climbed down and met a lot of cats that were hanging out in the cracks of the breakwater hiding from the sun and occasionally chasing each other.

We walked back to the town where we found a falafel place. I wasn’t feeling it, so we took the food home and eat it there.

20th + 21st of February: Blogging and Staying in

Nothing to report. We just went to Al Jalsah al Malakiah for food. The people that run that place are very sweet. Also the following day we didn’t really even leave the hotel.

22nd of February: A Day Trip to Ajman

Here’s a dedicated blog post about this day trip:

Ajman in an Afternoon (United Arab Emirates)

23rd + 24th of February: Blogging and Staying in

Again, we only went to Al Jalsah Al Malakiah for food. These blog posts don’t write themselves 🙂

25th of February: Manama, Ajman—A Day Trip to the Interior UAE

Another dedicated blog post about this little exclave from Ajman:

Manama, Ajman — Visiting the Inland Exclave + Al Dhaid as a Day Trip from Sharjah

26th of February: Ethiopian Food + Kunafa

Injera et al.

A few weeks prior in Dubai, we had had our first Ethiopian food experience. That meal was living rent-free in my brain all this time. I decided to google if Sharjah also had Ethiopian restaurants. Yes there were!

We took a taxi to a place called Ethiopia Cafetaria, which was wrongly mapped. I had bookmarked a few articles (glossary + article) on Ethiopian food, particularly the vegetarian/vegan meals. So I knew to ask for a yetsom beyaynetu with extra injera on the side. But this time, we even had space left for Ethiopian coffee. This is an experience in itself as it comes with popcorn and myrrh.

The people there were very nice but they first thought we were in the wrong place. We’re still very much learning about this food. But we loved it so much that I made a habit out of googling for Ethiopian restaurants in every major city we travel to.

We decided to walk back home from there. A guy was following us for a few blocks despite our weird route, so I decided to take a detour through a mall with Jonas to go up some escalators and then down another to lose him. That worked.

This little detour caused us to run into a place that advertised their kunafa. I know it as künefe in Turkish when I ate it in Antakya in 2014. Even though we were very full, I thought it was time for Jonas to finally try this cheesy dessert. We bought one to take home. Jonas’ mind was indeed blown at the first bite.

The business in Sharjah is called Al Janadriah Restaurant and it’s mostly a Yemeni mandi restaurant. In Malaysia, we often ate at Yemeni restaurants called Hadramout. It was the best place for hummus, falafel, delicious salads, and the epic bread mulawah. They were fancy restaurants in Malaysia, although not too pricey. What’s remarkable is that in the UAE, these restaurants are usually not fancy and the price for a chicken mandi is very low. As a consequence, they also don’t serve hummus reliably.

27th of February: Sharjah to Umm Al Quwain

With a stop at the Ethiopian place.

After our first two weeks in Sharjah, it was time to leave. But because check-out at Spark Residences was at 12:00 and check-in at the place in the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain at 14:00, we had some time to kill. We decided to leave a little earlier to take a taxi with all our stuff to the Ethiopian restaurant we had just been to the day before.

We enjoyed lunch there with another Ethiopian coffee that was so strong we could have bounced to the next emirate. The nice thing about Sharjah and most places in the UAE is that the next taxi driver is never far away. After lunch, we stopped a taxi and asked if he wanted to drive us the 40 kilometers to Umm Al Quwain. He agreed.

The route passes through Ajman. We passed the very pretty minaret of the modern Amna bint Ahmad Al Ghurair Mosque. We also saw some bits and pieces of Al Zorah Natural Reserve, which is where one can go kayaking.

Before we knew it, we had already reentered Sharjah and then left Sharjah for Umm Al Quwain. Our taxi driver didn’t know where the Flamingo Beach Resort was in UAQ, but we managed to help with the navigation. The move cost us 70 AED.

The minute we set foot in the resort, alcoholic drinks were advertised. Sharjah is a dry state where alcohol is completely forbidden, but UAQ has its own rules. So in the evening, we kicked back at the beach with a cold Corona.

11th of April: Fujairah to Sharjah (Second Stay! 16 Days)

During the second stay, we did fewer sightseeing things because Ramadan made a lot of opening times irregular. Instead of visiting many museums, we opted to double down on our favorite food places in Sharjah. We also had to prepare to leave the country, which required us to do a lot of boring stuff.

With a stop at Souq Al Jubail to buy more dates

Toward the end of our stay in the UAE, we needed to return to the general Dubai area for our flight out. The thing is, we liked Sharjah a lot more than Dubai. Luckily, it’s right next to each other.

Upon departure from Fujairah, we messaged our favorite taxi driver Stephen who had driven us around on several trips, including the trip to Madha + Nahwa. It cost us 220 AED to make the journey from the Gulf of Oman to the Persian/Arabian Gulf. It was a fast journey until we entered Sharjah traffic. Stephen sighed, “Always at this bridge” as we came to a complete standstill.

We wanted to first go to the Souq Al Jubail where we had bought those juicy dates before. Because we needed more of them. By now, Ramadan was in full swing. We managed to buy some of the shiny dates – which are covered in date syrup – and some of a different type that were matte. Then Stephen drove us back to Spark Residences, where it felt like coming back home. In the evening, we ate at Al Jalsah Al Malakiah again. The owner still recognized us from before.

12th of April: Rain Room


After some morning work, we took a taxi to the famous Rain Room. It’s an art installation where supposedly you can walk through the rain without getting wet. Sensors in the ceiling stop dripping in your location. At least that’s the idea.

The introduction was a bit different than expected. It only works if you walk through there very VERY slowly. And then again, they’re not liable if your phone breaks. So we brought our waterproof phone cases. Not taking chances.

It’s a lot of fun and definitely worth the price of 25 AED per person. And as Sharjah in April is a lot hotter than Sharjah in February, we definitely enjoyed the cooling effect of this art installation.

13th – 16th of April: Ramadan + Ethiopian Food

Prayer mats as far as the eye can see

On the 13th, we didn’t do much. Around prayer time it gets really busy around the mosque we live next to. The entire street is filled with socially-distanced prayer mats.

While walking through the neighborhood after getting our laundry done, I spotted the colors of the Ethiopian flag. It turns out there’s another Ethiopian restaurant in CRAWLING distance from Spark Residences. What a game-changer!

On the 14th, we booked our plane tickets to the next country: Kyrgyzstan!

After sunset, we ate out there for the first time. It was very good once again and we’re getting more comfortable ordering things. This restaurant is called Addis Ababa.

On the 15th, I don’t remember doing anything except maybe ordering food.

But on the 16th, we ate at Al Jalsah Al Malakiah in the daytime. This wasn’t a big deal to eat during Ramadan and there were no curtains on the window.

17th of April: CF Dubai Meetup

Indian vegetarian food on a lightening visit

In one of my childfree Facebook groups, I had come into contact with a woman living in Dubai. She had just done a trip to Kyrgyzstan, which would be our next destination. After her and her partner’s return, we decided to meet up over lunch. I told her we’re vegetarians, so she suggested an Indian vegetarian restaurant in Dubai for a meetup.

Jonas and I hopped in a taxi to Dubai. This isn’t super cheap as you pay some kind of fee to cross emirate borders. We arrived at the Rasoi Ghar Restaurant a bit early.

We talked over some of the most delicious and fancy Indian food we’ve had about Kyrgyzstan, traveling, living in the UAE, and being childfree. They have Indian passports, so they need a visa to enter a lot of countries. What I found interesting is that it’s easier for them to get a Schengen visa here in Dubai than anywhere in India. That’s because the EU is lazy and relies on the UAE to do the bureaucratic stuff; if you have a work permit for the UAE, your Schengen visa will be done in a week. What an insane world we live in.

After the meetup, we hopped back in a taxi to Sharjah. We spent like 120 AED on taxis for the meetup. This was also a bit of a test to see how fast the drive is from Sharjah to Dubai so we can plan our taxi ride to the airport without having to wait too much on each end.

18th – 20th of April: Ethiopian Food + Travel Prep

Nothing to report, really. We ate at the nearby Ethiopian restaurant again and called clinics to see where we should take a covid test to fly to Kyrgyzstan. We might have bought a gigantic tin can of dolma at Ambar Supermarket. It had like 70 of them and I calculated we could still eat it all if we eat 10 a day. Simple things.

21st of April: Airport Museum

Sharjah’s first airport has been swallowed up by the city. The runway has disappeared. Read more about this experience here:

Sharjah’s Abandoned Airport—Al Mahatta Museum

22nd – 27th of April: Preparing to Leave the UAE

The last few days in Sharjah were a bit of a blur. I tried to edit some videos. We went to take a covid test. Of course, we ate more Ethiopian food since Bishkek doesn’t have this cuisine. I covered those preparations in the dedicated departure blog post:

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan?! Traveling from DXB to FRU (Semi-Live Blog)

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