10 things to do at Sharjah Heritage Days: performances, historical experiences and food to try

The cultural event, which wraps up on Saturday, has welcomed more than 63,000 people so far

Sharjah Heritage Days is now in the final week of its programme. The cultural festival welcomed more than 63,000 visitors in the two weeks since it began on March 20.

Bringing together the traditions and customs of 29 countries, the event, taking place at the creekside Heart of Sharjah, offers a globetrotting adventure for anyone looking to satisfy feelings of wanderlust.

If you have yet to make it to the event, you still have time before it wraps up on Saturday, April 10.

There’s plenty to do in terms of activities and performances. But to make things easier, here's a round-up of some of the most exciting things to do at Sharjah Heritage Days.

Try your hand at Al Damah

Where: Al Damah Pavilion

Al Damah is a chess-like board game and a regional favourite. Learn how to defeat your opponent by removing all their hatba (wooden pieces) from the board to get sheikh points. Easy to learn in a matter of minutes, the game is also quick – all you need is about 15 minutes to half an hour (if playing for the first time) to get the hang of it.

Eat delicious Omani halwa

Where: Al Omani Sweet Factory stall

You’re not only savouring the gelatinous sweet but also getting a slice of Omani history at the halwa stall, as the recipe has not changed since 1961.

Try the traditional black and yellow varieties topped with figs, olives and nuts.

Among the must-try dishes is the Omani halwa, made in a large steaming pot with almonds, farina, caramelized sugar, rose water, saffron, and cardamon.Chris Whiteoak / The National
Among the must-try dishes is the Omani halwa, made in a large steaming pot with almonds, farina, caramelised sugar, rose water, saffron and cardamom. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Get spooked

Where: Horror House opposite the Main Stage

The Horror House takes guests on a family-friendly spooky tour through a traditional palm frond house “inhabited” by djinns, ghouls and other macabre characters famous in Emirati folktales such as Umm Al Duwais, Baba Daryah and Abu Salasel.

Enjoy live folk dances

Where: Main Stage, Community Theatre and various locations around the venue

Belarusian dancers Anastasiya and Natallia are part of the 76 year-old Kryzhachok Dance Ensemble. Monday, March 22nd, 2021. Sharjah. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Belarusian dancers Anastasiya and Natallia are part of the 76-year-old Kryzhachok Dance Ensemble. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The festival is a feast for the senses in more ways than one. Watch folk dances and performances from countries such as Belarus, Tajikistan, Syria, Spain, Kazakhstan, India, Montenegro and others. With their colourful costumes and energetic moves, they make for the perfect entertainment as well as a mini culture and history lesson.

Watch traditional Emirati crafts in action

Where: throughout the venue

The main idea of visiting the festival is to get an insight into the traditional Emirati way of life and culture.

A lady creates baskets and plates using palm leaves at the Heart of Sharjah for Sharjah Heritage Days. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A lady creates baskets and plates using palm leaves at the Heart of Sharjah for Sharjah Heritage Days. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Try your hand at making traditional Emirati pottery from Ras Al Khaimah at the Pottery in the UAE exhibition. At the Heritage Crafts Village, you can see biryani being cooked for hours, Emirati women making their own perfumes and kohl, and more.

Pose with a falcon

Where: near Sharjah Sports Council pavilion

No UAE festival is complete without an appearance from the country’s national bird. Take souvenir photos with the falcon on your arm and also learn about the 4,000-year history of falconry as practised by the Bedouins in the Arabian Peninsula.

Watch a weapon smith at work

Where: Kazakhstan Pavilion

Had enough of battle royale video games and virtual war games? Watch a real weapons master from Kazakhstan at work as he fashions swords, clubs, shields, axes, spears and more, which showcase the country’s famous military history.

Go down memory lane

Where: Districts and Villages Authority Pavilion

Nothing brings nostalgia to the fore more than collectibles and household items that now look like museum pieces. At Emirati collector Saeed Ahmad Al Kashri’s recreated Areesh “home”, you can check out decades-old transistors and TV sets, record players, rotary dial phones, old notebooks, currency notes, vintage soda bottles, kitchen and lifestyle curiosities that will be familiar to UAE citizens and residents who recall the latter decades of the 20th century.

Treat your children to a games night

Where: Main Stage and Children’s Village Pavilion

People arrive at the Heart of Sharjah for Sharjah Heritage Days, which will take place until April 10. Chris Whiteoak / The National
People arrive at the Heart of Sharjah for Sharjah Heritage Days, which will take place until April 10. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Wondering where to take your children this weekend? Look no further than the children’s competitions at the festival to entertain and challenge them with prizes. In addition, the Children’s Village pavilion offers a number of games and activities for them to learn and play.

Spot the roaming Syrian juice seller

Where: various locations around the venue

Mulberry juice is offered by Khamis Altoubi at the Heart of Sharjah for Sharjah Heritage Days. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Berry juice is offered by Khamis Altoubi at the Heart of Sharjah for Sharjah Heritage Days. Chris Whiteoak / The National

You can make a game out of this: find the man dressed in a traditional outfit, red hat and carrying a large copper briyak that pours out sham berry juice to visitors to quench their thirst, offering a touch of Arab hospitality to one and all.

Updated: April 5, 2021 06:48 PM

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