Electric Adventure: Discovering art, culture and classic cars in Sharjah

In recent years, Sharjah has emerged from the shadows of Dubai and Abu Dhabi to present itself as one of the UAE’s most distinguished cultural hubs. And, with a short driving time and dozens of charging points along the 50km route from Dubai Marina, there’s never been a better time to fire up the EV and set forth to broaden the mind.

Perhaps the UAE’s most underrated emirate, Sharjah beckons with vibrant souks, awe-inspiring museums and fascinating galleries, forming a rich tapestry of art and heritage.

This is a route that promises not just a change in scenery, but a change in perspective – a chance to explore, unwind and uncover the lesser-known treasures that make Sharjah a must-visit destination in its own right.

How to get there: Electric Vehicle charging stations

The drive to Sharjah from Dubai Marina takes around 50 minutes along Sheikh Zayed Road (E11) northwards, turning onto Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E311) for the final stretch. 

The further you drive away from Dubai, the lower the skyline drops as modern marvels fall by the wayside and traditional Arabian architecture takes over, transporting you back to a simpler time in the Emirates.

One full charge is more than enough to get your electric vehicle to Sharjah and back from Dubai, though there are plenty of places to juice up along the route. Charging points along Sheikh Zayed Road include DEWA EV charging stations at Dubai Marina Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Emerat Al Youm in Al Wasl. Further along the route in Deira, you can charge at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and or head to Heart of Sharjah or Chedi Al Bait hotel once you’ve arrived.

The Blue Souk boasts more than 600 shops selling cut-price gold, carpets, and souvenirs. It is recognisable by its sapphire mosaic tiles that decorate the domed roof.

What can I do in Sharjah?

Book lovers can while away the hours at Sharjah’s futuristic public library, the House of Wisdom. The vibrant, multi-faceted space spreads across 1.2 hectares and features rotating art exhibitions, 3D printers, vinyl-cutting machines and even book-binding facilities if you fancy yourself as a bit of a novelist. 

Stop by the Central Souk – known as the Blue Souk – for cut-price gold, carpets, and souvenirs. Recognisable by its sapphire mosaic tiles that decorate the domed roof, the traditional marketplace boasts more than 600 shops split across two bustling levels. Beady-eyed shoppers may recognise the building from the UAE’s five dirham note and it’s worth stopping by to marvel at the architecture alone. Bring your bartering skills and you’re bound to pick up a bargain.

Once you’re all shopped out (or spent up), head to the Rain Room for one of the UAE’s most unusual art exhibitions. The immersive experience allows visitors to enjoy an infinite downpour without feeling a drop, thanks to sensors that detect movement below.

The Sharjah Classic Cars Museum has some amazing collectors items. Remind yourself of the times before you went electric!

What can I see in Sharjah?

Floor it to Sharjah Classic Cars Museum to remember a time before your driving adventures went all-electric. Here, over 100 exquisitely preserved vehicles take centre stage, charting the history of the automotive industry as far back as 1915. Notable vehicles include a rare 1969 Mercedes Pullman Limousine which was custom-made for the ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, and is one of just 2,000 that exist across the world. 

Park up at the Heart of Sharjah to explore the emirate’s original city centre, which is currently undergoing a massive restoration effort to transform it into a thriving heritage district. The area is already brimming with museums and art galleries nestled amid historical wind towers and forts. For a glimpse into the region’s past, stop by the Sharjah Institute of Arts or visit the Al-Eslah School Museum to see how the emirate’s education system looked over 70 years ago.

For more historical meanderings, head to the Museum of Islamic Civilisation where six galleries display more than 5,000 Islamic artefacts through the ages. Located in a monumental former souk building on Al Majarrah Waterfront, the structure is crowned by a majestic gold dome, while a treasure trove of ancient coins, textiles, jewellery and art shine from within.

Where can I stay?

Sharjah is indeed only a short drive from Dubai, but if you want to make a weekend of it, then few hotels compare to Chedi Al Bait.

Hidden behind unassuming walls on the edge of the Corniche, the property oozes Arabian charm across heritage rooms and airy courtyards. And, with the launch of 12 brand new rooms and an EV charging point on site, there’s never been a more fitting time to bed down at the boutique hotel.

For something completely different, Mysk Al Fayer Retreat is a former 1960s petrol station that was transformed into a five-bedroom boutique hotel. Today, the secluded resort bears no resemblance to its humble beginnings, aside from a lone BP pump in the forecourt serving as a reminder of its past.

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30 Aug, 2023