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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

#SharjahArabTourismCapital: Desert Safari, Light Festival & more in the Middle East!


Gourmet Travel, Travel With Locals, City Travel, Middle East, Sharjah, Travel Blog 0

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The sun appears as a flaring red disk as it sets ever so gently upon the horizon, softly touching the desert dunes. It has gone quiet, all of us awed in silence by what we see: Nature at its best. “It would be kitsch if it weren’t real”, I am thinking, smiling to myself, recalling the same sunset magic only a week ago while travelling in Nepal. The #lifeofatravelblogger … 😉

 

Sharjah, and indeed the whole of the Arab world I have come to see, live & experience, are so much more than your standard cliché image. Essentially, I find travelling here is coming to terms with the soul of this place.

So what makes up the Arab soul? In my previous article, I have given some answers & travel tips you might find useful for organising your next adventure trip to the Middle East. Above all, it is worth stressing that the local people of Sharjah are amazing. In this one out of the seven United Arab Emirates, and literally only miles away from glitzy glamour Dubai, you can still hear the falcons swoop in the desert sands, taste authentic local Arab cuisine, and have long, meaningful talks with the gentlemen (and women!) of this land.

Welcome to Sharjah: Majid, a happy and very enthusiastic member of the local Sharjah Tourism Authority, gives us a heartfelt welcome to his home.

Welcome to Sharjah: Majid, a happy and very enthusiastic member of the local Sharjah Tourism Authority, gives us a heartfelt welcome to his home (iPhone in hand & Ray Ban on his head – naturally ..!).

 

Three days into my travel time of Sharjah, we embark on an adventure of a kind: A real desert safari ...

Three days into my travel time of Sharjah, we embark on an adventure of a kind: A real desert safari …

 

... going wild across the dunes with these ultra-modern cars whose drivers can handle every turn (and slope), as it is..!

… going wild across the dunes with these ultra-modern cars whose drivers can handle every turn (and slope), as it is..!

 

Stopped by the magic of our encounter with a Bedouin camp ...

Stopped by the magic of our encounter with a Bedouin camp …

 

... we watch in awe as this falcon is about to swoop, ready for its prey, with falconry being an ancient tradition during wintertime here in the Middle East.

… we watch in awe as this falcon is about to swoop, ready for its prey, with falconry being an ancient tradition during wintertime here in the Middle East.

 

The magic of the sunset gets to us ...

The magic of the sunset upon the desert dunes gets to us …

 

... as I prepare for going completely Bedouin-style (at least for a while ;) Riding a big camel in the sand, that is!

… as I prepare for going completely Bedouin-style (at least for a while): Riding a big camel in the sand!

 

Love the local refreshment drink being served to us afterwards! No alcohol of course, as there is a total liquor ban in the state of Sharjah.

Love the local refreshment drink being served to us afterwards! No alcohol of course, as there is a total liquor ban in the state of Sharjah.!

 

A little later, I enjoy having my left hand tattooed with the natural dye of Henna ... The tattoo lasts well over a week, I actually get to enjoy showing it around back home!

A little later, I enjoy having my left hand tattooed with the natural dye of Henna … The tattoo lasts well over a week, meaning I actually get to enjoy showing it around back home!

 

But there is yet so much more for you to see. Fancy learning more about Islam in one of Sharjah’s most spectacular museum buildings? Or see the beautiful Arab horses in their natural environment, perhaps?

I will never forget the graceful beauty of those nimble horses we saw that day, at the Sharjah Equestrian Club complete with a dressage demonstration of their skills and interaction with their trainers. Amazing. On the way, we stop at Sharjah University City, another dimension of cultural understanding: The university buildings look like palaces, if you ask me. Everyone drives their own car. Male & female students are separated (“So where do they meet?!”), except for the International American University here. And everyone surely has enough money, as studying here is incredibly expensive – at least if you are a non-Emirate. We learn all this and more from listening to our guides as well as from visiting the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization in the heart of town: A great museum, interactive & modern, the kind you wish for in terms of a true learning experience about Islam culture and knowledge away from the often disturbing international news broadcasts.

Modern-day culture in Sharjah greets us to a fusion of many worlds, as exemplified by this five star Radisson Blu Hotel against one of the many beautiful Mosques around here next to it.

Modern-day culture in Sharjah greets us to a fusion of many worlds, as exemplified by this five star Radisson Blu Hotel against one of the many beautiful Mosques next to it.

 

The faces of Sharjah: Young students on their way to uni ...

The faces of Sharjah: Young students on their way to uni …

 

... (and it's not the White House they walk towards, although it might appear likewise): University building in Sharjah!

… (and it’s not the White House they walk towards, although it might appear likewise): University buildings in modern Arab style here Sharjah!

 

Next, we are introduced to the nimble grace of the Arabic horse in this dressage ...

Next, we are introduced to the nimble grace of the Arabic horse in this dressage show …

 

... and deepen our knowledge about Islamic culture at the rather excellent museum for Islamic Civilization in the "Heart of Sharjah".

… and deepen our knowledge about Islamic culture at the rather excellent museum for Islamic Civilization in the “Heart of Sharjah”.

 

:)

Yes to that for any traveller. 🙂

 

This image of a Hadjj, the "one-and-only" pilgrimage every Muslim should complete in his or her lifetime, gets to me. What an event it must be ...!

This image of a Hadjj, the “one-and-only” pilgrimage to Mecca every Muslim should complete in his or her lifetime, gets to me. What an event it must be …!

 

Forever, we learn, the Arabs have been at the forefront of trading with their neighbouring nations as well as across the known world ...

We learn that the Arabs have always been at the forefront of trading with their neighbouring nations as well as across the known world …

 

... thank you, dear Majid, for introducing us to such a wealth of experiences here in this home country Sharjah of yours!

… thank you, dear Majid, for introducing us to such a wealth of experiences here in this beautiful home country Sharjah of yours!

 

The Sharjah Light Festival is something that you should experience at least once in your lifetime. Never before have I seen such beauty of (light) expression on such a wealth of traditionally Arab buildings. Fascinating, and entirely unique: #OnlyInSharjah!

Sharjah, and only Sharjah, is home to the international Sharjah Light Festival for the fifth time in a row this year. “Sharjah got it ahead of all other Emirates”, I am told smiling, understanding the sense of pride that comes with this spectacular light show. Each year in February, a total of 14 places are lit up in the most artistic way possible, among them such iconic buildings as the Al-Noor Mosque that we have already visited during the first day of my trip here. The production team, a French company, has let their imagination run wild, taking us through the history of Sharjah in their magnificent Light Festival Opening show. Follow me in the footsteps of dreams, shared by visitors and locals alike: Selfie-Time big time enhanced by a light show of a kind here in the United Arab Emirates!

Waiting for the Sharjah Light Festival to start ...

Waiting for the Sharjah Light Festival to start …

 

... is finding yourself in a city celebrating luminescence everywhere you go!

… is finding yourself in a city celebrating luminescence everywhere you go! (Even all highways across the desert sands are lit up here …!).

 

The magic of the Sharjah Light Festival unfolds ...

The magic of the Sharjah Light Festival unfolds …

 

... taking us through history in a light-movie spectacular audiovisual show ...

… taking us through history in a light-movie spectacular audiovisual show.

 

A fusion of light & sound installations ...

A fusion of light & sound installations …

 

... make places such as the Al-Noor Mosque here come alive.

… make places such as the Al-Noor Mosque here come alive.

 

In the light of taking selfies, we can see how powerful the lamps to project on those buildings really are ...

In the light of taking selfies, we can see how powerful the lamps to project on those buildings really are …

 

... as people from all ages, walks of life & nationalities are invited to join and play!

… as people from all ages, walks of life & nationalities are invited to join and experience the magic!

 

I absolutely LOVE what I see, having never seen anything quite like it before ...!

I absolutely LOVE what I see, having never seen anything quite like it before …!

 

And it feels good that some things are simply the same anywhere you go: Human emotions, shared by a group selfie on virtual places such as Facebook or Instagram. World we live in, is all I can say !!!

And it feels good that some things are simply the same anywhere you go: Human emotions, shared by a group selfie on virtual places such as Facebook or Instagram. World we live in, is all I can say !!!

 

Dive into more of what essentially makes up the fabric of local Arab culture as found here during my visit of Sharjah, expressed by a wealth of colourful travel photographs on Flickr:

Disclaimer: I have been invited by Sharjah Tourism on this visit of Sharjah & the Sharjah Light Festival. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
Going Local in Sharjah: (Fashion) Feast & Family Time in the United Arab Emirates
#CreativElenaRTW: HOME. Practical, emotional & fun conclusions from a life-changing journey around the world.

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