Sharjah + Ajman
Dubai’s northern border is shared with the emirate of Sharjah, and right above Sharjah sits the emirate of Ajman—both within driving distance should you want to see more of the UAE. Visiting Sharjah is a really interesting contrast to staying in Dubai—known as a more conservative emirate, Sharjah is dry (meaning absolutely no alcohol) and calls for modest dress (leave your crop top in Dubai/inside your suitcase). It’s really a place to go to discover and learn about authentic Islamic culture. The historic old town is captivating; there are markets and souks to browse (that feel less touristy than the Dubai variation), and where you can see traditional Bedouin jewelry. Sharjah has a number of quality museums, including the smartly curated Museum of Islamic Civilization, which is in a converted souk on the water. Sharjah is also known for its three lagoons, and Al Majaz amphitheater event venue. Sharjah’s northern neighbor, Ajman, is the smallest of the seven emirates and very scenic; Dubai locals come here for a weekend beach getaway. Also here: Ajman Museum—the former ruler residence/late eighteenth-century fort now serves as a glimpse into the emirate’s past, including the once predominating pearling trade of the region.