Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
By Car -- Travelers on a visit visa can use a valid international driving license or obtain a temporary driving license to drive a private or hired vehicle. Temporary licenses valid for 1 month are issued at the Sharjah Traffic and Licensing Department, on Al Ramtha Road (tel. 6/538-1111), at a cost of AED 80 ($22/£11). Sharjah lies less than 20km (12 miles) from Dubai, but because of the enormous number of commuters who work in Dubai and live in Sharjah's more affordable housing, it can take more than 2 hours to reach during peak times along the E11 Al Ittihad Road linking the two cities. You may find it more convenient to take a taxi rather than driving yourself.
The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (tel. 6/556-6777; www.sharjahtourism.ae) is part of a ministry, and does not typically serve the public. Check the website for visitor information.
Sharjah developed around the creek, also called the Khalid Lagoon. The Corniche runs along the water's edge and is an appealing spot for walking in nice weather. The Heritage Area is the old walled city, home to numerous museums and the Souk Al Arash. There are two main areas dedicated to arts: The Arts Area in Al Shuwaiheen, and that on the other side of Al Bourj Avenue in Al Sheyoukh, where the Arabic Calligraphy Square and Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts are located. The Arts Area is home to a number of art institutes and galleries, including the Sharjah Arts Museum. Qanat Al Qasba (www.qaq.ae) is another popular area with a canal, waterfront restaurants, and performance spaces that often feature concerts, film festivals, and performing arts.
Decent Proposal -- Since September 2001, Sharjah has implemented rules consistent with the emirate's conservatism -- rules that are far stricter than anywhere else in the UAE. Men and women who are not in a "legally acceptable" (read family or spouses) relationship are not supposed to be alone in public or commercial places, including vehicles. Men may not wear short shorts or go bare-chested in public. Women may not wear clothes that expose the stomach or back, skirts above the knee, or tight and transparent clothing that reveals the body. Swimsuits are only allowed at beaches or pool areas. Men should not visit "ladies only" places. Fines for breaking these rules range from warnings to possible jail time. Enforcement of the decency laws seems to vary.