Situated in the northeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, Sharjah is the only emirate in the UAE with land on both the Arabian Gulf coast and along the Gulf of Oman. On the west coast overlooking the Arabian Gulf, Sharjah city is home to 85% of the population, with the islands of Abu Mousa and Sir Bu Nair located offshore. The emirate also has five key regional towns – Al Dhaid, Khorfakkan, Kalba, Dibba Al Hisn and Al Badayer – as well as the exclave of Nahwa, a village located inside the Omani enclave of Madha.
About an hour’s drive east of Sharjah city, Al Dhaid is the emirate’s third-largest town and the main producer of fruit and vegetables, such as strawberries, dates, limes, guava and mangoes, which are sold across the UAE.
The enclaves of Khorfakkan, Kalba and Dibba Al Hisn are found on the east coast. Khorfakkan is the largest town on the coast, located midway between Dibba Al Hisn and Fujairah. It has an expanding container terminal and port. Kalba maintains a historical charm and is known for its old forts. It attracts birdwatchers, kayakers and hikers.
Dibba is a set of three seaside villages. Sharjah’s Dibba Al Hisn lies between Dibba Bayah, which belongs to the Sultanate of Oman, and Dibba Muhallab, which belongs to Fujairah.Al Badayer, located in the Al Madam area, is one of the most popular desert areas in the emirate, attracting campers and off-roading enthusiasts.
Although Sharjah is in a desert region, it is rich in fauna and flora. There are some 3,500 endemic plants, more than 100 species of birds, mammals such as the Arabian oryx, and a vast variety of insects and reptiles.
The western seaboard is well developed with a modern infrastructure, while the coastal and marine environments are full of sea life. Inland, the desert is characterised by impressive red sand dunes. The east coast is dominated by the spectacular Al Hajar Mountains, rising in places to 2,000 metres and intersected by sheer-sided wadis (dry river beds).
Beautiful sandy beaches and the clear blue seas of the Gulf of Oman have made this coast a haven for water sports and relaxing. Khor Kalba, the southernmost tip of the UAE’s Gulf of Oman coastline, culminates in an extensive mangrove marsh, believed to be the oldest in Arabia.
The emirate is a long-time supporter of conservation efforts, establishing the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife near Sharjah city some 20 years ago, followed by the Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre in the Hajar Mountains in 2016. Both centres have made huge strides in helping prevent the critically endangered Arabian leopard from becoming extinct, and also breed several other endangered species, including the Arabian tahr and the Arabian wolf.
Khor Kalba and the surrounding wetlands, salt marshes and mangrove forest are protected under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands. The area supports a vital ecosystem for a number of endangered species, including the Arabian collared kingfisher. The Kalba Bird of Prey Centre is another element of the ongoing Kalba Eco-Tourism Project, the largest project of its kind in the UAE. The centre is home to 46 species, including the long-legged buzzard, short-toed snake eagle and lappet-faced vulture.