One of the things I look forward to most at the weekend is exploring my city and soaking in all of the different cultural activities that Sharjah has to offer. I want to take you through a recent weekend that really captured the essence of a weekend in Sharjah.
My friends and I woke up early one Friday morning to explore the buried village of Al Madam, a cluster of houses in the middle of the desert which have been swallowed up by the shifting sands. The buried village has become a hot spot for filmmakers, fashion shoots and photographers and is one of my favourite places to explore and photograph, especially because the landscape changes so frequently.
The neighbourhood is called Al Ghuraifa. While there are different theories as to why it was abandoned (some involving jinn and paranormal activity), the real story, as I was told, is that a group of houses was built in a location where winds blow from different directions, resulting in the houses being constantly buried by the sand. My favourite find was a half-buried hot-pink bed frame with a built-in radio, which I remember seeing in many houses in the UAE during my childhood.
As the sun grew warmer we headed back to the city, making a pit stop at Gnad Cafe in Mleiha, a smaller branch of the popular Gnad Cafe in the Muwaileh District of Sharjah. I always stop here when I’m on my way to Mleiha or out of town.
We headed to the Culture Palace to catch a play at Sharjah Theatre Days, a theatre festival that has been running for over 25 years. The play, Majareeh, told a tale of forbidden love between a slave and the daughter of a merchant. It left us speechless and at one point in tears. We headed to 25 Lounge in Muwaileh to grab dinner and discuss the play in more detail.
Saturday morning, I headed to Ratios Coffee, my favourite café in Sharjah, to grab a long black and read. Ratios also has one of the best views of the corniche and the port.
I wandered through Souq Al Shanasiyah, a newly developed souk, towards Souq Saqr, an older souk which is always bustling at the weekend. I walked past shops that sell spices, perfumes, textiles and my favourite store that sells all of the retro candy we used to buy as children. I walked over to Sharjah Art Foundation, only 10 minutes from the souk, then headed to one of my favourite places, Fen Cafe and Restaurant, where I met my family and some friends for lunch.
Next, we saw some exhibitions at the Sharjah Art Foundation and wandered around the Urban Garden and alleyways of the contemporary buildings, petting the cats and kittens that lounge around the galleries.
At sundown I explored the Sharjah Heritage Days on foot. The Heritage Days havedifferent categories that represent the cultures and backgrounds of the people of the UAE, and have tribal leaders from different parts of the country who represent their various tribes and traditions.
My favourite is the sea district where you can see men performing songs of the sea which they traditionally sang when they were pearl diving, and dancing a traditional dance specific to pearl divers. As I walked through the district I was greeted by elders who used to be fishermen. They talked to me about the different types of local fish you can find in the UAE, and the various methods of preserving them. There is a maleh display, which translates as “salty” and is a famous salted cured fish you can also buy at the festival.
By dark I had bags full of snacks, traditional foods, spices, perfumes and trinkets.
I hope I have given you a glimpse into a typical weekend in Sharjah for me, and inspired you to explore the city. I also hope to share more interesting insights and activities in future editions of this column.
Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.