Mleiha Archaeological Centre is a hidden gem in the emirate of Sharjah that leaves you spellbound. By Priyanka Chakrabarti
In January 2019, I embarked on a journey back in time to experience Sharjah’s traditional Emirati life. It was a five-day-long affair, too short to immerse myself completely into their social and cultural offerings. However, I did indulge in some iconic experiences, including overnight desert camping at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre.
Around 65 kilometres southeast of Sharjah, this treasure trove of nature sits in secrecy, housing one of the UAE’s most crucial and complex ancient sites. Witness to the region’s Bedouin history, Mleiha Archaeological Centre wears an aura of mystery.
When I reached the site, set against the backdrop of coral-hued dunes, I saw tiny lantern-lit camps neatly laid out around a bonfire. The wind was picking up, and the sand beneath our feet was cold, but I had never felt this calm in my bones before. There was something peaceful and spectacular about the setting.
We gathered around the bonfire and indulged in a scrumptious spread of barbequed meat. John Lennon’s classics kept us company throughout the evening until our tour guide told us that it was time for the next activity: stargazing. We walked for about 10 minutes to reach the spot where a telescope was stationed. I saw a mighty canopy of stars; to say it was magical would be an understatement. From discovering distant galaxies to observing the ‘imperfections’ of the moon, from trying to spot meteors to taking mental notes of constellations, this intense desert immersion blew our minds.
We spent the night burrowed in sleeping bags in our tiny tents and woke up early to catch a glimpse of the rising sun, which slowly turned from tawny to gold. The stillness in the air and the whispers of untold tales left us wanting more as we bid farewell to this desert rose. Mleiha is a story that will forever be etched in my mind.
“I experienced a magical Arabian night in the middle of Sharjah’s desert.” – Priyanka Chakrabarti, Digital Editor
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re looking for a luxe accommodation in the heart of Sharjah, check in to The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah. The GHM group has converted a collection of historic manor houses into a 53-key Emirati luxury hotel. With a name that translates to ‘the home’, this hotel offers convenient access to all the wonders of Sharjah. Expect to indulge in exquisite gastronomy, spa therapies, and more.
Related: #TNLVirtualTour: Sharjah