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Family-friendly tourism in the heart of the UAE

Al Majaz Waterfront. Photo: Al Noor Island

With its natural beauty, state-of-the-art tourism facilities, and world-class cultural and heritage sites, Sharjah confidently offers visitors the best of the UAE. What sets Sharjah apart is the emirate’s focus on family-friendly tourism that provides something for everyone whether they be young or old

While Dubai and Abu Dhabi may be better-known tourism destinations, a third emirate is emerging as a prime destination for travelers interested in an authentic and family-friendly experience in the UAE. Sharjah is known as the cultural capital of the UAE and is recognized as an Islamic cultural capital in the region. A short, 30-minute drive from Dubai, the emirate is home to some of the most impressive museums in the country and is honored as a national cultural beacon.

Sharjah also boasts incredible and diverse natural beauty and combines its environmental assets with a heritage-based approach to tourism to create a truly authentic Arabian experience. Visitors may stroll through the souks of old Sharjah, visit the Islamic Heritage Museum, or enjoy outdoor activities such as desert excursions, water sports and golf. The emirate offers something for every type of tourist, from top-of-the-line luxury products to more budget-friendly options – even camping for the most adventurous.

The Emirate of Sharjah sits uniquely in the UAE tourism scene for the focus it has placed on positioning itself as a family-friendly tourist destination. Designated the world’s first “Child-Friendly City” by UNICEF in 2018, by putting families at the center of its approach to tourism, Sharjah is able to offer packages and offers created specifically with the family-based tourism experience in mind.

Al Noor Island. Photo: Invest in Sharjah / Sharjah Tourism Authority

Visas upon arrival for Chinese travelers and a multitude of flight options means getting to the UAE has never been easier

Chinese tourists in particular are recognizing the appeal of Sharjah; arrivals from China to the emirates exceeded one million visitors in 2017. With the newly introduced visas upon arrival for Chinese travelers and a multitude of flight options between the UAE and China, getting to the UAE has never been easier.

The tourism scene in Sharjah has been exploding, and with that growth, creating prime opportunities for investment across the sector. “When it comes to investments, we are here to change how people look at Sharjah. We are here to create a future for our youth. We are here to create opportunity for investors. We are here to cover a gap that is available within this sector. We are here to guide investors on where to invest and in which sector,” says Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, executive chairman of Sharjah’s investment and development arm, Shurooq.

Photos: Invest in Sharjah / Sharjah Tourism Authority.
Sharjah’s five must-see destinations

Al Noor Island

A short drive from downtown Sharjah, Al Noor Island is the perfect family day excursion. The island offers a mix of recreation, art and education, including an expansive playground and a butterfly house exhibiting exotic species, as well as art sculptures and landscapes.

Al Noor Mosque

One of Sharjah’s most architecturally spectacular mosques, Al Noor Mosque is built in the Ottoman style and is open for visitors to learn about UAE national culture and religion. Of Sharjah’s more than 600 mosques, Al Noor is one of three open to tourists.


A city in Sharjah located on the Gulf of Oman, Kalba is a beautiful place to take in the Emirati coastline. It is home to a large mangrove nature reserve, which is currently being developed into an ecotourism destination.


Mleiha combines the best of both adventure and heritage tourism. Visitors can view Bronze Age tombs and pre-Islamic historical sites, and visit the Mleiha Archeological Centre; or they take a more active approach to touring by paragliding, dune bashing or desert trekking.

Sharjah Light Festival

The Sharjah Light Festival invites artists to celebrate science, creativity and heritage in a stunning annual display of lights, color and music. With the latest edition taking place in February 2018, the Sharjah Light Festival entertains, educates, and illuminates the emirate.

Photos: Invest in Sharjah / Sharjah Tourism Authority.