Sharjah is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, which lies on the shores of the Arabian Gulf at the heart of the Middle East. The Emirate is ruled by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, whose vision is to develop Sharjah as a cosmopolitan city that preserves Arab cultural heritage and traditions.
It is one of the most culturally-rich places on earth and was named as the Islamic Culture Capital in 2014 for its remarkable contributions in preserving, promoting and disseminating Arab and Islamic culture at local and international levels. The emirate was selected as the Arab Tourism Capital for 2015 and was awarded the title of ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ by UNESCO in 1998.
A knowledge and cultural hub, Sharjah houses over 30 museums across its 2,590 sq km area that feature art and artefacts from the ancient and modern worlds, and hosts large-scale cultural and literary events. It also promotes culture, arts, literature and literacy and learning through numerous projects and schemes.
The local currency of the UAE is the dirham, which is pegged to the dollar at Dhs 3.67. One Dirham is equal to 100 fils. Coins are available in denominations of 25 fils, 50 fils and 1 Dirham while notes are available in denominations of Dh5, Dh10, Dh20, Dh50, Dh100, Dh200, Dh500, Dh1,000. The country also offers a sophisticated network of banks and currency exchanges and ATMs.
The dialling code for the UAE is +971 (calling into the UAE). Local codes are as follows:
Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, 06;
Abu Dhabi, 02;
Al Ain, 03;
Ras Al Khaimah, 07.
To call another emirate from within the UAE, use 0 and the corresponding number, e.g. to call Abu Dhabi use the prefix 02 *** ****. To call Abu Dhabi from outside the UAE, for example, use +971 2 *** ****.
Weather in the UAE ranges from daytime temperatures of 20-25C in the winter, to 45C+ during the hottest summer months. The best time to visit the UAE is during the winter, when the climate is perfect for outdoor activities. Balmy temperatures are experienced from the end of October through to April, despite the lower temperatures that occur in the winter.
Sharjah has a welcoming, all-encompassing, respectful culture. The UAE is a Muslim country and so visitors are requested to follow cultural guidelines relating to public behaviour and dress conservatively .
Sharjah Airport caters to numerous airlines, including Air Arabia, Air India, British Airways, Egypt Air, Etihad Airways, Jet Airways and Qatar Airways. For more information, go to www.sharjahairport.ae.
The Sharjah Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) known locally as The Road and Transport Authority operates buses and taxis in the Emirate. The bus service is known as ‘Mowasalat’ and the buses are a vibrant orange colour, so that they can be easily spotted. Taxis are readily available in Sharjah and are inexpensive. Pre-booking is available and special services for the disabled and for women and children are also provided. For more information, go to www.srta.gov.ae or call 600 52 52 52.
The official language of the UAE is Arabic. Because of the multicultural nature of the Emirates, English is also widely spoken, along with Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog. Visitors will find that public information is often displayed in both Arabic and English.
The emergency numbers are unified across the Emirates:
Fire (Civil Defence): 997