So a very kind, local friend offered to show me a side of Sharjah that I wouldn’t have seen despite having lived here for years.
On our first expedition of the city, we shortlisted the four closest places to my house and started there.
Here we go…
Wasit Wetland Centre
How many of us knew a place like this existed in Sharjah? What’s more shameful is that this bird reserve is 11 minutes drive from my residence. From all the reviews you read about this place, you will notice some common words to describe it – mostly “hidden gem,” or “undiscovered.”
Ticket costs AED 15 only
The Wasit Wetland center is located between Sharjah and Ajman surrounded by hideous buildings and factories – but you wouldn’t know if you were inside.
The reserve has both an indoor and an outdoor birdwatching facility. In the indoor part you see the birds settled in their habitat through a glass window. Their “cells” have no roofs but humongous umbrellas for shade under the open sky. So they are free to fly whenever they want. These are mostly local birds who prefer to stay in.
The outdoor part includes a sort-of safari on a golf cart around the 7-kilometer space with multiple bird observation points. The views from there are breathtaking and without a doubt something you will NOT see in any other part of the UAE. Wild, green plantations (?) and huge natural bodies of water, home to the most unique species of birds that visit only during winters (sadly)
According to our guide, toward the end of the year, there is an overflow of birds from around the region that come there for food and shelter.
Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club
We explored the shooting club and I found it pretty fancy. The parking lot is full of luxury cars or cars with two-digit number plates or both. The shooting club as you would expect is a fully fledged community club with activities like golf and swimming and ARCHERY.
I did archery for AED 80 for 15 minutes. Which was absolutely NOT ENOUGH. It is also pricey but it is unlike anything you’d do on a weekend. This was the first time I did archery in my life. And even before doing it, I just knew I would get it. And I did! Maybe my name has something to do with it…
Sharjah Club has a fully-functional website, which is also surprisingly user-friendly (rare for regional websites), with all the details on memberships. Although memberships work better for someone living in Sharjah or Ajman, people in other parts of the UAE can definitely visit for a fun day out without too much crowd (thanks to them for doing a meh job at marketing).
Sharjah Institute for Heritage
Just like all touristy things in Sharjah, this institute is hidden behind other cultural buildings in University City, Sharjah. We went there to watch a short cultural show by a New Zealand cultural troop that was visiting Sharjah. The show began with a performance by young Emirati girls who danced on local children’s songs followed by New Zealand’s traditional dance.
Let’s just say the dances and the stories behind them were so intriguing that New Zealand has officially moved 10 spots up on my must-see places.
Sharjah Art Spaces
Art Exhibition for a renowned Emirati artist, Hassan Sharif. To be honest, I’m not the best person to take to contemporary art exhibitions as I have a keen eye for trash in that art. Nonetheless, an enlightening experience, more so because I saw art connoisseurs admiring a tiny hill made of scissored rubber slippers (??)
Sharjah is not the first destination you think of when planning your weekends, but just like me, if you take out a weekend or two to explore this city, you will come across activities that are half as crowded and just as fun as Dubai.
Next stop Mleiha!