x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

In Sharjah, a summer full of culture

With summer and Ramadan upon us, this downtime is the perfect opportunity to explore Sharjah's 16 publicly funded museums.

A display at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation. Courtesy SAHARA Communications
A display at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation. Courtesy SAHARA Communications

With summer and Ramadan upon us, this downtime is the perfect opportunity to explore Sharjah's 16 publicly funded museums.

Late openers

Sharjah's three big hitters are staying up late to attract the post-iftar crowd this month.

Sharjah Art Museum

Take a look at some of the key pieces from the museum's 300-strong collection of works by 18th- and 19th-century European orientalist painters, along with watercolours and acrylic paintings by local luminaries and artists from the wider region. The museum is spread across three floors and is home to a library of 4,000 titles (Arabic, English and other languages) and a comfy reading room.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm and 9pm to 11pm

Friday, 9pm to 11pm

Free entry

06 568 8222

Sharjah Aquarium

A network of tunnels allows you to get up close with the aquarium's 250 different species, from moray eels to reef sharks. The museum offers a good insight into the Gulf's waters and has a conservationist slant to its displays.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm and 9 to 11pm

Friday, 9pm to 11pm

Adults Dh20, children (ages 4 to 17) Dh10, children under four are free, family (two adults, three children) Dh50

06 528 5288, www.sharjahaquarium.ae

Sharjah Maritime Museum

The legacy of pearl diving and the great dhows that plied these waters play key roles in the identity of the country. But how much do you really know about these trades? Explore traditional seafaring practice, and understand the adversity that went hand-in-hand with hunting pearls.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm and 9pm to 11pm

Friday, 9pm to 11pm

Adults Dh8, children (ages 4 to 17) Dh4, family (two adults, three children) Dh20

06 522 2002

Get to know the UAE

Understand a little more about life during the pre-oil days, the Emirates' history and its early schoolrooms.

Sharjah Heritage Museum

After a top-to-bottom refurbishing, the heritage museum now has a number of new exhibits and a fresh lease of life, with its collections grouped into clearer themes. Containing everything from the first run of UAE money to a loom used to make desert tents, the museum is an insight into the lodgings and lifestyles of the pre-oil days of the Emirates, merely a generation ago.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh5, family Dh10, children free

06 568 0006

Al Mahatta Museum

At 4pm on October 5, 1932, the first plane landed in Sharjah, en route to Bahrain from India and piloted by the British captain Horsy. Today, the former airport has been turned into a museum to celebrate those early days of air travel, including four original, fully restored period propeller planes in its hangars. There's also a celebration of aviation in general - from the mechanics of bird flight to the intimidating scale of an A320 engine.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh5, family Dh10, children free

06 573 3079

Beit Al Naboodah

The former residence of the wealthy Al Shamsi pearl trading family, today the museum offers an insight into the interior design and layout of a traditional Emirati house. Built in 1845, the two-storey house also provides a glimpse into innovative cooling methods in the days before oil and air-con, and the exquisite carvings done by regional artisans.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh5, family Dh10, children free

06 568 1738

Al Eslah School Museum

Sharjah's first educational institution dates from 1935 and shows off the beginnings of formal Islamic schooling in the emirate. The dormitory upstairs was used to house visiting students from around the Gulf, and photographs show what classroom life was like back then.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh5, family Dh10, children free

06 568 4114

Right for Ramadan

There are two museums with specifically Islamic content, and both make for fine wanderings during the Holy Month.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation

This former souq is a sight in itself, with its arched ceilings and warren of passageways. The museum traces the story of the scientific, medicinal and engineering breakthroughs that were founded in various Islamic societies around the world. Peruse everything from astrolabes to domestic objects that show how Islamic design built into a long legacy of artisan studios and craftsmanship.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Free during Ramadan

06 565 5455, www.islamicmuseum.ae

Sharjah Calligraphy Museum

Calligraphy can make for difficult viewing at first, particularly for non-Arabic speakers. The museum aims for an onslaught of the form in a bid to inspire, showing off some of the most difficult calligraphic constructions by true international masters of the craft. It presents the major writing styles in calligraphy, from the ancient to the contemporary.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh5, family Dh10, children free

06 569 4561

Get hands-on

Take the kids to explore these two exhibitions that include some interactive elements.

Sharjah Science Museum

Thankfully, this goes a little further than a Van Der Graaf generator; everything from exploring how illusions work and the very nature of colour, through to the science behind cryogenics.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh10, children (ages 3 to 17) Dh5

06 566 8777

Sharjah Discovery Centre

Aimed specifically at the younger demographic of budding scientists, the centre is packed out with hands-on gadgets and exhibits. Understanding how our senses work, the art of travel and becoming a TV star are just some of the topics covered.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Sharjah Discovery Centre is having minor maintenance work done during Ramadan, but will be open later this month. Call ahead to check the museum is open before visiting.

Adults Dh10, children (ages 3 to 17) Dh5

06 558 6577

Off the beaten track

Road-trippin' to Kalba, digging for treasure or coming face-to-face with a vintage Rolls-Royce.

Sharjah Classic Cars Museum

The interior might look a little like a showroom, but there are some incredible old motors stationed in Sharjah. Take the open-top Dodge made in 1917, complete with baby-blue chassis and wooden spoke wheels. Or the 1956 Cadillac that was at one time used as an ambulance in Sharjah. There's a mid-1930s Fiat, and a Skoda Felicia, all part of a too-often overlooked collection of more than 100 stunning vehicles.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh5, family Dh15, children free

06 531 1411

Beit Sheikh Saeed bin Hamad Al Qassimi

Once the beachside retreat of Sheikh Saeed bin Hamed Al Qassimi, this charming spot in Kalba now houses archaeological finds including weapons and agricultural tools. A trip out to the museum can double as a fine excuse to explore the peaceful, mangrove-lined east coast and the nearby Al Ghail Fort.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh5, family Dh6, children free

09 277 4442

Sharjah Archaeology Museum

The history of the Arab Peninsula drawn from the Stone Age through to the dawn of Islam is on show at this museum, including coins from Rome that circulated through the region, 1st-century water jugs and items from the ancient site of Mleiha. Housed in a low-lit, reverential space, detailed scale models of burial plots and Stone Age dwellings feature, along with examples of the earliest forms of writing found in the region.

Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 2pm, closed Friday

Adults Dh5, family Dh10, children free

06 566 5466, www.archaeologymuseum.ae

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