Admit it. You associate Sharjah with the reason traffic in Dubai has gotten (even) worse as of late. But beyond the congestion – and that shooting club everyone seems to have heard about – awaits a city brimming with cultural and culinary delights just waiting to be discovered. Here, Savoir Flair explains why you should drop all your Dubai-based plans this weekend and head northeast instead.
Make your way to Sharjah Art Foundation this Saturday for the al fresco screening of 3,000 Nights at 8:30 p.m. The film tells the story of Layal, a newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher, who is sentenced to eight years in prison after being falsely accused of a crime. It’s considered to be one of the highlights of Reel Palestine, a pop-up film festival showing a selection of alternative Palestinian films across the UAE.
If you manage to make it to the city well in advance of the film screening, join the Sharjah Waterfront Trip organized by Sharjah Art Foundation. Taking place from 2 to 7 p.m., it will allow participants to explore the city’s dynamic waterfront and Port Khalid, gaining insights into the journey that local fishermen take to catch fish and sell them at the wonderfully chaotic Souq Al Jubail fish auctions. To learn more about the trip, click here.
Food for Thought
Take the time to reflect on all things Sharjah at a hidden gem by the name of Paper Fig, which comes highly recommended by Sharjah-based fashion designer Reema Al Banna of Reemami. While the trendy eatery is famed for being a bit of a sweet retreat, its menu is seasonal and inspired by a diverse array of cuisines, making it the ideal choice for a group with fussy diners.
Art for Art's Sake
Make the most of your time in Sharjah by soaking up its exciting arts scene, starting with Maraya Art Center. The non-profit creative space will continue to showcase the Place and Unity group exhibition until the end of this month. It explores the perpetually complex themes of home, identity, and community through the works of 14 Emirati and UAE-based artists.
Another absolute must-visit space for art enthusiasts is the Sharjah Art Museum, which is currently hosting the 19th edition of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival – themed bunyan, the Arabic word for “standing structure” – until January 24th. Expect to see a stunning blend of art and architecture by contemporary artists from across the globe.
Majaz, Majaz, Majaz
Ask virtually any Sharjah resident and they’ll tell you that Al Majaz Waterfront is the epicenter of entertainment in the city. It’s here that you can join a city sightseeing tour, ride a traditional abra around the corniche, and experience a brand new perspective through Wafaa Bilal’s “The Hierarchy of Being” sculpture – the unique installation contains 15 windows featuring motorized irises and is designed to recreate the camera obscura effect.
The Great Escape
Art, lighting, literature, and nature collide at Al Noor Island, a tourist and leisure destination intended to nurture a sense of peace and serenity. There’s quite literally something for everyone – the egg-shaped “OVO” sculpture offers a multi-sensory experience using water and light, the Butterfly House houses nearly 500 different species of butterflies in an ornately designed building inspired by its inhabitants, while the Literature Pavilion provides a plush space adorned with calligraphy and cushions to the city’s bibliophiles. The 45,470-square-meter island will also serve as the site of The International Storytelling Festival until January 28th.
One Last Hurrah
We cannot – and will not – judge you if you consider a city unexplored without a pit stop at a specialty café. And that’s where Ratios Coffee, another great suggestion by Al Banna, comes in. Located in the heart of Sharjah, it overlooks the Sharjah Creek and proudly features décor elements that have been reclaimed from a 60-year-old dhow that was used by traders moving merchandise between the Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Sea – not a shabby spot in which to sip a cup of single-origin coffee.