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How is Sharjah Different from Dubai? A Comprehensive Comparison for Expats

When considering a move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), expats often compare the two most prominent emirates: Dubai and Sharjah. While these neighbouring cities share some similarities, they also have differences that can significantly impact an expat’s living experience.

In this article, we’ll explore how Sharjah differs from Dubai in terms of cost of living, lifestyle, culture, and more.

Lifestyle Differences: Dubai vs. Sharjah

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Dubai – A Cosmopolitan Oasis

Dubai is renowned for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, offering a vibrant blend of cultures and experiences. The city boasts a thriving nightlife scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and lounges catering to diverse tastes.

Dubai also has world-class entertainment options, including theme parks, shopping malls, and international restaurants. Some unique experiences that set Dubai apart include:

  1. 哈利法塔: The world’s tallest building, offering stunning city views from its observation deck.
  2. 朱美拉棕榈岛: A man-made island shaped like a palm tree featuring luxurious resorts, beaches, and dining options.
  3. 迪拜奇迹花园: The world’s most extensive natural flower garden, with over 50 million flowers arranged in stunning displays.

Sharjah – A Cultural Haven

In contrast to Dubai’s fast-paced, modern lifestyle, Sharjah strongly emphasizes culture, family values, and education. The emirate is home to numerous museums, art galleries, and cultural festivals that enrich residents’ lives. Some notable cultural attractions in Sharjah include:

  1. 沙迦伊斯兰文明博物馆: A fascinating museum showcasing the Islamic world’s rich history and cultural heritage.
  2. 沙迦艺术基金会: A renowned cultural institution that promotes contemporary art from the region and beyond.
  3. 沙迦国际书展: One of the world’s largest book fairs, attracting publishers, authors, and book lovers from around the globe.

Cost of Living – A Detailed Comparison

One of the most significant factors for expats considering moving to Dubai or Sharjah is the cost of living. Here’s a breakdown of various expenses in both cities:

费用 迪拜 沙迦
1-bedroom apartment (city centre) AED 6,000 – 10,000 AED 4,000 – 6,000
Utilities (electricity, water, cooling) AED 500 – 800 AED 300 – 500
Monthly transportation pass AED 300 – 400 AED 200 – 300
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant AED 30 – 50 AED 20 – 40
Cinema ticket AED 35 – 50 AED 25 – 40

As evidenced by the table, Sharjah offers a more affordable living cost than Dubai, with lower prices for housing, utilities, transportation, and entertainment.

Real Estate and Housing Options

The housing market is another area where Dubai and Sharjah differ. Dubai offers a wider range of properties, from luxurious villas to modern apartments, with prices varying based on location and amenities. In Sharjah, the housing market is more affordable, with a focus on family-friendly flats and villas.

Some critical real estate trends and projects in both cities include:

  • 迪拜: The Dubai Creek Harbour, a waterfront development featuring residential towers, retail spaces, and the Dubai Creek Tower, is set to be the world’s tallest structure.
  • 沙迦: Aljada is a master-planned community offering a mix of residential properties, retail spaces, and leisure attractions, all designed to focus on sustainability and community living.


Dubai and Sharjah have well-developed transportation infrastructure, with a network of roads, public buses, and taxis. However, Dubai has a more extensive public transportation system, which includes the Dubai Metro, a modern and efficient rail network connecting critical areas of the city.

Commuting between Dubai and Sharjah is relatively easy, with several bus routes and shared taxis linking the two emirates. However, traffic congestion during peak hours can lead to longer travel times.

Educational and Healthcare Facilities

Dubai and Sharjah both offer a range of educational and healthcare facilities catering to the needs of expats and their families.


  • 迪拜: Home to numerous international schools following various curricula, such as American, British, and IB, as well as world-renowned universities like the American University in Dubai and the University of Wollongong in Dubai.
  • 沙迦: Hosts several reputable schools and higher education institutions, including the American University of Sharjah and the University of Sharjah, which offer high-quality education at more affordable rates than Dubai.


  • 迪拜: Features a mix of public and private 医院 and clinics, with state-of-the-art facilities and internationally trained medical staff. Some notable hospitals include the Dubai Healthcare City and the American Hospital Dubai.
  • 沙迦: Offers quality healthcare services through a network of public and private hospitals and clinics, such as the University Hospital Sharjah and the Al Zahra Private Hospital.

Community and Social Life

Expats in both Dubai and Sharjah have the opportunity to be part of vibrant and diverse communities. Dubai’s cosmopolitan atmosphere attracts people worldwide, creating a melting pot of cultures and experiences. Sharjah’s focus on family values and cultural heritage fosters a closer-knit community feel.

Both cities offer a range of community events and activities, such as festivals, markets, and sports tournaments, which provide opportunities for expats to interact with locals and other expats alike.

Work Opportunities and Business Environment

Dubai and Sharjah both offer exciting work opportunities and business prospects for expats.

  • 迪拜: Known for its thriving business environment, with key industries including finance, tourism, real estate, and technology. The city’s tax-free zones and investor-friendly policies make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • 沙迦: Growing as a business hub, focusing on sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, and education. The emirate’s lower cost of living and doing business makes it an appealing choice for startups and SMEs.

Safety and Legal Aspects

The UAE is generally considered a safe country, with low crime rates and a strong emphasis on security. However, there are some legal differences between Dubai and Sharjah that expats should be aware of:

  • Alcohol consumption: 尽管 Dubai allows the sale and consumption of alcohol in licensed establishments, Sharjah has a complete ban on alcohol.
  • 着装要求: Sharjah has a more conservative dress code than Dubai, emphasizing modest clothing in public spaces.

Expats need to familiarize themselves with the local laws and customs to ensure a smooth and respectful transition to life in either emirate.

Personal Stories and Testimonials

Don’t just take our word for it – hear from expats who have experienced life in both Dubai and Sharjah:

“I love the fast-paced, cosmopolitan lifestyle in Dubai, but I sometimes miss the sense of community and cultural authenticity that Sharjah offers.” – Sarah, a British expat

“As a family, we found Sharjah a more affordable and family-friendly option than Dubai. The emirate’s focus on education and cultural experiences has been incredibly enriching for our children.” – Ahmed, Egyptian expat

Pros and Cons – Dubai vs. Sharjah

To sum up, here’s a balanced overview of the pros and cons of living in Dubai versus Sharjah:


Pros and cons of living in dubai are :


  • The cosmopolitan atmosphere and diverse cultural experiences
  • World-class entertainment and leisure options
  • Thriving business environment with ample work opportunities


  • Higher cost of living compared to Sharjah
  • A fast-paced lifestyle may not suit everyone
  • Traffic congestion and longer commute times


Pros and cons of living in sharjah are :


  • More affordable cost of living compared to Dubai
  • Strong emphasis on culture, education, and family values
  • Growing business hub with opportunities for startups and SMEs


  • Conservative lifestyle with stricter laws and customs
  • Fewer entertainment options compared to Dubai
  • Longer commute times to Dubai during peak hours

Ultimately, the choice between Dubai and Sharjah depends on your preferences, lifestyle, and financial situation. By carefully considering the factors discussed in this article and your priorities, you can decide which emirate is the best fit for you.

Interactive Map: Explore the Best Neighborhoods in Dubai and Sharjah

Discover the top neighbourhoods for expats in Dubai and Sharjah with our interactive map, featuring essential information on housing options, amenities, and cultural attractions.

Your Turn – Share Your Experiences

We’d love to hear from you! If you’ve lived in or visited Dubai or Sharjah, share your experiences, tips, or questions in the comments below. Your insights can help other expats make a more informed decision and prepare for life in these fascinating emirates.