The United Arab Emirates' third-largest emirate, Sharjah has beautiful beaches on both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It's replacing its diminishing oil revenues by fashioning itself as a regional business center. It's a major residential center for people working in Dubai, and the traffic jams at rush hour are epic. The entire emirate is completely alcohol-free.

There are two ports in Sharjah: Khor Fakkan, on the east coast, on the Indian Ocean, and Sharjah on the west coast, on the Arabian Gulf, 9 mi/15 km northeast of Dubai. The ports are developing their coastlines for tourism. Like Dubai, Sharjah is relatively progressive (women drive cars, have jobs and dress in western fashions).

Other towns of interest in the emirate include the inland oasis Dhaid (near the Hajar Mountains) and the village of Maleiha (fourth-century Hellenistic archaeological site). Be sure to take the scenic desert and mountain drive across Sharjah.

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