Friday, April 12, 2013

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Sharjah is the third largest emirate in the UAESharjah, لشارقة, is also the largest city in the emirate of Sharjah and the third largest city in the country.  It sits on the Arabian Peninsula, on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf.

The flag of Sharjah

Sharjah is a constitutional monarch and it has been ruled by the Al Qasimi dynasty since 1727.  In 1971, it joined the United Arab Emirates.

Sharjah is about 170 km (106 miles) from Abu Dhabi.  Today it is basically a suburb of Dubai.  The city is home to over 800,000 people.  Since the cost of living is much cheaper in Sharjah, many people live here but work in Dubai.  The bus to Dubai takes over an hour but only costs 7 Dirhams ($1.91).

Central Souq
Things seem to be much more conservative here than in other parts of the country.  Sharjah is the only Emirate where alcohol is completely banned.  In 2001, a conservative dress code was established for both men and women.  It is also illegal for unmarried men and women to mix.  "A man and woman who are not in a legally acceptable relationship should not be alone in public places, or in suspicious times or circumstances."

In 1998, UNESCO named Sharjah as "The Cultural Capital of the Arab World".

Al Hisn Fort is in the center of the city.  It was built in 1820 and was once the residence of the ruling family.  Today it is a museum.

The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization opened in 2008.  Originally it was a traditional souq (an indoor market).

The King Faisal Mosque is the largest mosque in the emirate.  It was a gift from Saudi Arabia's King Faisal.  The mosque opened in 1987 and can accommodate 15,000.  I could only see the outside as the mosque is only open to Muslims.

The only mosque that is open to non-Muslims is the Al Noor Mosque.  It was opened in 2005.

Last year, to commemorate the 41st National Day, a giant flag was raised on the world's 7th largest flagpole.  It is 123 meters (404 feet) tall.

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