This week I decided to get out of Dubai and explore some of the many museums in Sharjah. Sharjah is the third biggest Emirate in the UAE and is the cultural hub of the country. It is known for its beautiful majestic buildings, love of creativity and ridiculous traffic and road systems. This was a place you would not visit on purpose pre-Google Maps (I came here in 2005 before Google Maps and Smart phones existed).
To start I went to the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. This beautiful (long building) is the home of artifacts from the Islamic countries in the Arab and Turkish peninsula predominantly. There is a room dedicated to Islam and the three important buildings for Muslims – Mecca, Madina and Al Aqsa Mosque. I have been to none of them so far (my parents have and can talk about the three places for hours), but it was good to see old and new pictures and artifacts from these places.
There were further galleries focusing on the art, ceramics, engineering and astrology which are a major part of Islamic History.
I didn’t read every single caption and by the 3rd and 4th gallery my legs were giving up (post COVID, the tiredness comes fast), however it was very interesting. The technology, engineering and astrology sections have great interactive sections which will be fun for kids (and big kids – yep I pressed a few buttons).
I took about an hour to visit. There is a big cafe and small coffee shop as well as classrooms for kids (there was a summer camp happening when I was there).
It was pretty empty but maybe it does get busier in the winter.
Pros – lots of interesting artifacts, empty so get to see the items in peace and read the captions without being disturbed. No noisy kids.
Cons – staff using one gallery to make loud phone calls and watch videos was not enjoyable and the shop/cafe was a bit lame.
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
Adult Ticket – AED 10 (August 2022)
Parking – Free
The temporary exhibitions were both closed to put in the new art for the next season. So not great planning by me.
Art as always is a personal thing. I loved a lot of the landscapes and saw some beautiful pieces. One section of the permanent gallery was unmanned and empty, so I walked around and view the pieces in peace.
The second section was guarded by two guards. One followed me whilst I viewed the art. He kept his distance when I got a vocal about my displeasure of him following me. The feeling I got was that I was going to steal the art or touch it. Of course I have manners and was not going to do either. Being the only human in the gallery made it even more disconcerting – not a great experience.
Some great pieces, but not the amazing experience I had expected (especially after reading reviews on the place before). Maybe it is better when all the temporary exhibitions are open as well.
Pros – seeing some great art from Arabian artists.
Cons – Being followed around by security.
Adult Ticket – Free (August 2022)
Parking – Free (the parking is in the back of the building and you have to be let in through the barrier by a gruff man).
I also went opposite the museum to visit the cafe there, but it was closed. The district has the Sharjah Art Foundation and some other buildings, but it all looked closed.
I decided to get back in the car and went to the Arabian Tea House next to the Chedi (on my hotel list). The food at Arabian Tea House never disappoints. I usually have the breakfast when I visit the branch in Al Bastakiya (or whatever it is called now), but as it was lunch I tried their hummus and halloumi wrap with rose jam. I have to saw the halloumi and rose jam really worked well together. Worth a visit always – especially for breakfast.
Arabian Tea House – Location
Parking – I was cheeky and parked by the Chedi parking which was free.
I finally got to see some museums in Sharjah and it was lovely to see. Not the most awesome experiences, but an experience and nice to get out of Dubai.
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© Photo by Shelina Jokhiya.