Sharjah is internationally recognised for preserving the Arab and Islamic heritage. The efforts won the third largest Emirate of the UAE the coveted title of “Cultural Capital of the Arab World” in 1998. Sharjah has also been chosen as the 2014 Capital of Islamic Culture by the Ministers of Culture in Islamic countries.
The heritage quarters located in Rolla area, popularly known as Heart of Sharjah, is a hit with the international tourists as well as the UAE residents who come from various parts of the country to know more about the culture and traditions of the nation. A number of museums located in different parts of the culturally vibrant emirate are other major attractions.
But the Emirate has a lot more to offer to international as well as domestic tourists - the East Coast of Sharjah, an idyllic land of rugged mountains overlooking golden beaches and clear blue seas.
A trip to the East Cost of Sharjah opens a peaceful retreat, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. During the two hours’ drive from Sharjah, one would pass through the rugged scenery of the Hajar Mountains and reach to the clear blue waters that wash the shores of the seaside towns of Khor Fakkan and Kalba.
Underwater the East Coast is incredible. From sea horses to whale sharks, turtles to manta rays, a kaleidoscope of corals and fascinating wrecks make the waters here amongst the best in Arabia for diving and snorkelling. There is a wide range of well-researched dive sites and well-respected operators to take the enthusiasts out. Shark Island, just off Khor Fakkan, offers a good chance of seeing headline marine life and is well worth exploring.
Kalba is another magical place. Its endless stretches of beach, the famous Kalba museum showcasing the ancient history and geography, including a unique habitat for some of the world’s most endangered creatures, are worth exploring.
Just a few kilometres south of Kalba town, one may find the site of Arabia’s oldest mangrove forest, which is a crucial conservation area for endangered species. The mangrove is inhabited by two of the world’s rarest birds the white-collared kingfisher and Syke’s Warbler.
Kalba Museum or the Al Qassimi House is located right on the seafront, just north of the fishing harbour.
This house was built at the end of the 19th century and belonged to Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamed Al Qassimi, a former ruler of Sharjah. Different rooms of the rebuilt house give a good insight into ways of life a century ago. Old photographs, coins, artifacts and poetry assist in creating an intriguing atmosphere.
After a short drive from Kalba, one may find Khor Fakkan, Sharjah’s largest town on the east coast. Currently known as home to a busy commercial port, the town is set to become the most popular place for eco-tourism in the country as the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development is making coordinated efforts with other institution to develop this place for underwater adventures.
Currently, there is a whole holiday’s worth of activities on offer all along the corniche, as well as in hills and waters.
There are many jet ski hire huts at about the midway point of the corniche. Among the palm trees on the beach are swings, volleyball nets and football goals. Shark Island lies just out in the bay and despite the name is an unthreatening place for snorkelling, camping and picnics.
The site is quite popular among visiting European tourists looking for aquatic wonderland. For many years, the Oceanic Hotel has been providing a full range of watersports, diving, fishing and boating activities.
Recently, an ambitious project has been started to renovate the hotel to meet the increasing demand.
The hotel development project has taken into account the future requirements of the events witnessed by Sharjah from the tourist boom in light of the continuing efforts of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development to promote activities in the Emirate.
From / Gulf Today