Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer in Sharjah: Aquarium & Maritime Museum

On Wednesday, we continued our tour of Sharjah's indoor cultural attractions with a visit to the Aquarium and, as it turned out, the Maritime Museum.

Sharjah Aquarium
The Sharjah Aquarium probably loses at least some potential visitors to the more glamorous (and accessible) Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo at the Dubai Mall. However, the Sharjah Aquarium is well worth a visit for two reasons. First, the Sharjah version provides a more pleasant visiting experience - it is less crowded with fewer exhibits, and what is on display is more suited to children. They can see and reach everything, and sometimes kids just want to see a lot of cool fish without having to sift through massive amounts of interpretive material. Second, the admission price to the Sharjah Aquarium is much cheaper! The two girls and I visited with a friend and her two kids. Total admission for all six of us was 50dhs ($13.60). The clerk gave us the family ticket rate, which was nice. (We found out later that the same ticket would get us into the Maritime Museum across the way, too.)

The layout of the aquarium is very simple. There seems to be one main tank filled with lots of fish (kind of like the one in Dubai), but you access it in different ways throughout your visit. Sometimes you are looking down on it from an upper viewing platform. Other times you are walking through tunnels underneath it. The main tank is complemented by smaller, specialty tanks that show fish in a certain environment, or different varieties of fish.

At the Sharjah Aquarium, you basically just walk through and look at all the fish. Our kids enjoyed it so much that we went through twice.

When we heard that the same ticket would get us into the Maritime Museum, we walked across the plaza for a visit.

This museum is really well done. Most of it was a little advanced for our kids, but they at least appreciated it on a "here is a room filled with lots of boats and anchors and ropes and sails and pearls" level. To the extent that I was able to spend time reading about the exhibits, I enjoyed learning more about the maritime heritage of the UAE. Just like the aquarium, the Maritime Museum is not too big and its exhibits are not too complicated. It's just one big room full of interesting things to look at, including some really old boats and pearl diving equipment.

Sharjah is known as the most cultural emirate, and so there are lots of museums here that celebrate Emirati heritage. I have been to ten of them now (Heritage Museum, School Museum, Bait al-Naboodah, Art Museum, Islamic Civilization Museum, Aquarium, Discovery Centre, Science Museum, Old Cars Museum, and Maritime Museum) and I have been impressed with every single one of them. Sharjah knows how to do museums well, and they are so cheap to visit!

A post on the Sharjah Old Cars Museum (I've also seen it called the Classic Cars Museum) is coming soon.

1 comment:

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I've been to several of those museums in Sharjah and thought them well done and satisfying, not overwhelming yet educational. It's great that there are so many choices where you can spend the unbearably hot summer days.

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