Sharjah is the third-largest of the UAE's cities, and is the capital of the wealthy Sharjah emirate.
Sharjah © Basil D Soufi
Many of the headline attractions are within the Heritage Area near the main cornice. Here visitors can explore the Al Hisn Fort and the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, both worth experiencing to counterbalance the Emirate's more modern, consumer culture face.
Nearby Khalid Lagoon has a water fountain that spouts 160 feet (100m) into the air, making this the third largest fountain in the world. The Sharjah Aquarium, located at the mouth of Al Khan Lagoon, is also worth visiting. The Eye of the Emirates on the edge of the city is a giant wheel that offers a spectacular views over the downtown and cornice attractions - a great way for tourists to orientate themselves.
For shopping, tourists can brush up on their haggling skills and head for the Blue Mosque, possibly the best place in the country to buy carpets, or the venerable Souq al-Arsah, the UAE's oldest covered market. For those wanting a little more activity, there are plenty of desert and camel safaris, diving trips and boat tours to take.
Sharjah is the only emirate in which the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol is banned. Despite this the city is popular with expats who take advantage of Sharjah's cheaper accommodation while commuting to Dubai, 20 miles (34km) away, for work.
Arabian leopard, Sharjah © Amos Chachmon
Sharjah Desert ParkSharjah Desert Park encompasses three attractions: the Sharjah Natural History and Botanical Museum, the Children's Farm, and the Arabian Wildlife Centre. The Wildlife Centre is the most popular attraction, with a zoo, aviary, and breeding centre that houses several endangered species. The Children's Farm is a fun petting zoo for children on holiday in Sharjah. The Natural History Museum has five main exhibition halls: A Journey through Sharjah, Man and the Environment, A Journey through Time, The Living Desert and The Living Sea. Sharjah Desert Park is also home to the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, however this is not open to the public.
Address: 16 miles (26km) east of central Sharjah towards Al-Dhaid; Opening time: Sunday to Thursday 9am-5:30pm, Friday 2pm-5:30pm, Saturday 11am-5:30 pm. Closed Tuesdays.; Admission: Adult: AED 15, Children (12–16 years): AED 5, Children (under 12): Free.
Al Hisn Fort © yeowatzup
Sharjah Heritage DistrictSharjah's Heritage District is set in the old city, and much effort has been put into showcasing the city's culture and history. Situated near the Corniche, the area is full of museums and restored houses that will fascinate visitors. Highlights of the Heritage District include the Al Hisn Fort, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation, Sharjah Calligraphy Museum, and the Souq al-Arash (thought to be the oldest souq in the country). The Al Naboodah and Al Midfaa family homes offer a glimpse into traditional Arabian life. Many museums have special opening times set aside for women only.
Address: Al Merraija; Website: www.sharjahtourism.ae