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.
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.
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!
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.