When planning a trip to the UAE, key activities instantly tend to spring to mind. The incredible Ferrari World on Yas Island, which needed 12,370 tons of steel to be created and has enough aluminium on its roof to cover 16,750 Ferraris, is an obvious example, as are the surrounding Formula 1 aspects that make Abu Dhabi so exciting for visitors.
That's not even mentioning some of the incredible hotels like The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Canal, with its 1,600-square-meter outdoor pool, where you can live a life of luxury. Dubai also boasts the chance to go skiing in the Mall of the Emirates, as well as the chance to watch the incredible Emirates A380 planes taking off and landing from the viewpoint of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa (which rides high at 828m).
Away from the obvious, though, what might you find in some of the less touristy locations, like the stunning city of Sharjah, Capital of Islamic Culture?
Sharjah: A City of Entertainment
When you think of Sharjah, you may well think of some of the incredible shopping experiences there, rather than the fact that you need to pop over to Dubai to go to a nightclub, but what you might not realize is that the history of Sharjah makes it an incredible place to enjoy cultural experiences in compared to the glitz and glamour of other parts of the UAE. Sharjah encompasses some of the most impressive elements of the Middle Eastern maritime culture, represented best of all by the Sharjah Maritime Museum. Coastal civilization was established around 6,000 years ago, and in the case of the UAE, helped to establish the Gulf area as a lucrative destination by pioneering diving techniques and fishing methods in order to maximize the potential of fishing and pearl resources.
Looking at the world of pearl diving in particular, this highlights the fascination mankind has with the ocean, and the diverse life within it. The clash between ocean and mankind has led to lucrative opportunities, with one pearl necklace selling for $11.8 million dollars after being designed by Cartier. Even in 2017 when a single night at the Burj Al Arab can cost around £24,000 if you happen to fancy staying in the Royal Suite, the cost of these pearls is still incredible, and the fascination with the world of water has helped to inspire a myriad of other incredible ideas and spin-offs.
A World of Nature: There to Inspire
While of course the Maritime Museum focuses on the past and history, with exhibits like Al Qasimiyah and some of the world’s oldest pearls, the ocean off Sharjah has some incredible sights that you can still enjoy today, furthering your fascination with the underwater world. With sea turtles, whales, dolphins and a huge range of other incredible species living in the water around Sharjah, the preservation of these species is likely to become a serious focus in the future as society seeks to protect species which have, for hundreds of years, been held close to our hearts. Indeed, human fascination with whales and dolphins, and its ties to popular culture, stretches back as far as the age of Moby Dick, a novel was written in 1851, finding outlets in the form of the Waterworld film, which helped to propel the the career of Kevin Costner forward in 1995 (in fact, the film is still very much a point of debate nowadays), and through into the modern day with hotels offering underwater views while being able to play over 2,000 video slots and various casino games, and into cinema inspirations the success of innovative films like Pixar's Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. In fact, the latter film from 2016 has hit over $1 billion revenue globally at the box office. Considering all that, there is no wonder that domestic and international visitors alike have embraced the Sharjah Maritime Museum.
In Sharjah, if you don't fancy heading out to sea yourself, the chance still exists to enjoy the nature off the coast by going to the Sharjah Aquarium, which houses a range of species including sharks, eels, and seahorses. With no sign of our interest in nature and the world of the oceans disappearing, it is pleasing to see the aquarium looking to help ensure that despite the pace of change in the UAE as the area modernizes, local marine life will be preserved by promoting education as well as conservation areas.