The Emirate of Sharjah (German spelling “Sharjah”) ranks third in terms of area among the seven United Arab Emirates (UAE). A little more than a ten-minute taxi ride separates Dubai International Airport from the center of the capital Sharjah. The emirate is a culturally rich country with a long history and a thriving, non-oil-dependent economy. In the shadow of the neighboring, “shining” emirate of Dubai, it has emerged as an interesting tourist destination in which Arab culture and traditions are vigorously maintained. Sharjah is considered to be the most conservative in the United Arab Emirates.

Sharjah - the first impression - suburb of Al YarmookSharjah - the first impression - suburb of Al Yarmook

History in a nutshell

Sharjah's history goes back several millennia. The region was originally an important trading port and pearl fishing center. No wonder that former colonial powers such as Portugal, the Netherlands and Great Britain sought influence in the region. The emirate has been ruled by the Al Qasimi family since the 18th century. The mini-state was a founding member of the United Arab Emirates, which was founded at the end of 1971.

Sharjah - Fort Al Hisn - a historical legacy

Sharjah - Fort Al Hisn - a historical legacy

Sharjah's position within the United Arab Emirates

Although it is not as well known as Dubai or Abu Dhabi, Sharjah plays an important role in regional politics and culture. The emirate claims key positions in the UAE's political and economic union.

Sharjah's political system is a constitutional monarchy. Politics is shaped by the current ruler, Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi. The Emir, who has received two doctorates in England, promotes education, culture and social structures. He founded a number of educational and cultural institutions.

Sharjah - the Ruler's Office at Cultural SquareSharjah - the Ruler's Office at Cultural Square

Culture and sciences

The capital, Sharjah City, was UNESCO Cultural Capital of the Arab World in 1998. She also regularly arranges cultural events, festivals and art exhibitions.

Sharjah has a large number of museums, officially reported at 20, dedicated to the region's art, culture, history, science and maritime heritage. From our point of view, notable museums are the Sharjah Art Museum and the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.

Sharjah - Museum of Islamic CivilizationSharjah - Museum of Islamic Civilization

When it comes to cultural events, the emirate hosts events such as the Sharjah Light Festival, the Sharjah International Book Fair and the Sharjah Biennale. The latter is an exhibition of contemporary art that takes place every two years. Each of the festivals mentioned attracts artists and cultural workers from all over the world.

School institutions and universities

Sharjah offers a wide range of educational opportunities for adolescents. There are both public and private schools. The educational institutions offer different curricula such as the British, American and International Baccalaureate programs. – The University of Sharjah offers a wide range of courses in various disciplines. There are also additional technical colleges.


Sharjah has and maintains a diversified economy characterized by the commercial, manufacturing, education and media sectors. Sharjah is less dependent on oil than some neighboring emirates. The country benefits from its free trade zones and its large container port. Sharjah is also important for the regional real estate industry.

Sharjah - Central SoukSharjah - Central Souk


Tourism is becoming increasingly important. The current website “” speaks of 106 hotels and similar facilities in this context. The combination of traditional construction, city-friendly architecture and modern amenities makes it an attractive destination for guests from all over the world during the European winter months.

Sharjah - Corniche with mosque and the Radisson HotelSharjah - Corniche with mosque and the Radisson Hotel

Another attraction for tourists are the emirate's beaches. Holidaymakers are offered a variety of water sports. The coastal town of Khor Fakkan and the Kalba Nature Reserve are additional highlights.

Sharjah is a unique blend of tradition and modernity. This makes it significantly different from the neighboring and much better known emirates such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Sharjah for cruise ship guests

The Emirate of Sharjah is not a cruise ship destination. This is amazing, especially since it has access to the sea with the container port. However, the fact that cruise ships do not call at Sharjah is not a problem. From Dubai's southwest Mina Rashid cruise terminal, visitors drive approximately 20 kilometers to the center of Sharjah City. We report on what you see and experience there under Sharjah – Sights.

January 2024