I have now visited Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman and crossed through Fujairah. However I have stayed only in Dubai and Sharjah for a few days on separate trips. I hoped over to Ajman from Sharjah on a whim. It was a short day trip, I really did not send much time in Ajman. Still, here is a quick take about the dress code for women in Ajman.
The first thing that surprised me was women in bikini on the Ajman Beach, which is a public beach. There was this young women who wore her shirt but didn’t bother to cover her legs. I could also see that no one was paying them any extra attention so that might be the norm.
Then there was this older woman on the same beach in her bikini! Now that was interesting to me. I also saw a couple (but could not photograph them even from far) where the girl was wearing a capri and short sleeved T-shirt.
I was wearing a jeans and a long sleeved sweater as it was cold after the rains in Sharjah. I was walking down the public beach when a traditionally dressed man approached me and politely asked about my well being. I replied and to make things clear added, I was a tourist staying in Sharjah. He pointed to his car (BMW) in the parking area nearby and offered to drop me to Sharjah! He would speak some Arabic in between his English. I told him I did not understand him and walked away. He waved from his car, tried to attract attention but went away eventually. This was an absolute first for me in UAE. Before this, no one, absolutely no one, tried to talk to me unless I asked for something!
I twice took a taxi in Ajman (as I was short on time) and both the drivers were Pakistani. They were amiable young men, ready to answer all my queries. One of them remarked when I told him I was staying in Sharjah, “here it is not like Sharjah, if you wish to, you can go out with anyone willingly.” In Sharjah apparently opposite sex is not encouraged to mingle unless you are related.
In Ajman I also noticed that not everyone was wearing black (the lady in the first picture is wearing a pink abaya) but many still covered their head. The girl in the restaurant where I had lunch was covering her head but wearing a shirt.
As I said I saw only a little of Ajman but my feeling is that it has a more liberal dress code for women than Sharjah.
I sat down to write how to travel from Sharjah to Ajman by bus! And then I realized that all I know is that I traveled between the two points somehow! I didn’t have data on my mobile in Sharjah and that I can now say is a handicap! I didn’t know the distances or time that it would take.
The trip happened more due to serendipity than anything else. I was standing at the Central Souq in Sharjah when I noticed a Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus. A friendly Filipino girl came out of the bus and told me they had an Ajman Tour too. It interested me, Ajman is closest Emirates to Sharjah. But as the HOHO Bus had one hour service between two points in Ajman, I gave it a miss.
I moved on, and walking randomly I exited close to Al Jubail Bus Station in Sharjah. At the spur of the moment I decided to go to Ajman. I tried to find the ticket counter at the bus stop. I was told by a friendly soul that I could buy a ticket on the bus! I boarded a bus that said Ajman. The staff asked me where I wanted to go in Ajman and I said “city center” meaning the center of the city. They directed me to another bus.
The staff in the other bus spoke with me in Hindi or Urdu as both sound similar. I requested them to tell me when to get off. The fare was 5 Dirham. In the Sharjah buses the ladies seats are at the front. Which bus was that? I didn’t notice the number. But I can say for sure that even if you appear clueless, like me, at the Al Jubail Bus Stop they will still guide you to the correct bus.
When my stop came, the driver told me. I realized City Center was a mall and not the city center of Ajman, not sure if it is in Sharjah or Ajman! But where ever it is, it is close to the Ajman Beach.
I asked a person in the mall who tried to sell me gold about the Ajman Beach. He said I could take a taxi from outside. The trouble was I didn’t exactly know where I wanted to go and how big was Ajman Beach!
Anyway I hailed a taxi and told him I wanted to go to the beach. I also told him I was new to the city and I was looking for lunch. He was a Pakistani, most of the taxi drivers are. We amiably chatted till I reached the beach. I also asked him where could I take a bus back to Sharjah? He told me to hail any taxi and ask them to drop me to a Sharjah Bus Stop.
I went to walk by the beach a little and then sat for lunch. After lunch I hailed a taxi, again the driver was a young Pakistani. I told him I wanted to go back to Sharjah by bus! He stopped at a bus stop and told me to go and ask if it was the correct bus. It was a road side stop with two buses waiting. I said I would pay, but he said no go ask first and if it is your bus come back and pay. Or else I will drop you to Sharjah. It was the correct bus. I told the bus driver not to go as I had to pay the taxi. His assistant threw some tantrums saying the bus was leaving but I told him I had a flight to catch. I ran back, paid the taxi, thanked him and boarded the bus. I know this was bus no 14 but I do not know the name of the bus stop in Ajman from where I boarded it! The bus ride was uneventful otherwise.
It dropped me close to Al Jubail but it didn’t go inside the terminus. I realized it was a city bus! There is a city bus service up to Ajman! Now I only need to find the correct routes and go there next time without taking any taxis. Or else I could actually take a taxi all the way to the beach, it is not that far from Sharjah, according to Google Maps it is less than 10 kilometers!
Also you can see how good I am at giving directions. If you would follow my advice, to go to Ajman by bus, Al Jubail, Sharjah could be your starting point. Once you turn up at Al Jubail just ask around! But there are many stops in Ajman so know where you wish to get off! If you need more precise directions, ask someone else!
I hopped over to Ajman on a whim, from my trip to Sharjah. It was my free day, and after a lot of confusion (self-created) I eventually stumbled over to Ajman. The choice was a bit of convenience and a bit of serendipity. Sultan Saray was my lunch stop. I will get to it in a while.
I was standing at a Hop On Hop Off bus stop near the Central Souq in Sharjah. A friendly staff (from Philippines) came out and started chatting with me! She mentioned that they have an Ajman hop on hop off tour too. I was interested. I almost bought the ticket but stopped because they had one hour service on the route and I had a flight to catch in the evening.
So, I walked off and randomly went to the back of the souq. Passing by the mosque, I crossed through the under bridge and reached the Al Jubail Souq which has a fish market within it, with live auctions. And right in front of it was the Al Jubail Bus Stop! Now everything was pointing towards going to Ajman!
I boarded a bus and after a few adventures I reached the Ajman Beach. It was time for lunch and I started exploring restaurants. The first one I tried was a cafe and they didn’t had much for vegetarians. I was also looking for beer (alcohol is banned in Sharjah, the only Emirates to do so) but did not find it at lunch.
The second restaurant I went to was Sultan Saray. They have an outdoor seating by the sea and I was sold on it. But my first concern was to see if they served anything vegetarian. The server convinced me that they have veg options. He pointed out to a veg casserole and drinks. He added there were some veg salads too. I asked for an avocado drink and told him I would make up my mind about the main course in a while. But in some confusion he already passed on the order of veg casserole and the avocado drink.
I had no problem with this, but I do have a problem with the way they dealt with it. When I called them they kept standing away. They were not willing to communicate with me. I had to raise my voice to sort it out. I basically told them in a loud voice that I was OK if they have already placed the order. As they were not willing to walk near me to listen to me, I had to option but to slightly raise my voice. I thought it was completely unnecessary.
Then came the drink, followed by the food. The drink was nice but it had syrup in it, which is common to the region. The veg casserole was good, it was basically grilled vegetables in oil. One nice waiter noticed that they had not served bread with it and brought it for me.
I had a peaceful meal. I enjoyed the view too. There were many people sitting for lunch out there. It was a beautiful day, not too cold and it was nice to sit by the sea. I would have spent more time but then I had to go back to Sharjah and I had a flight later in the evening.
So, I asked for the bill. I then took out my card to pay for it. The girl taking the bill asked me, making a face, if I can pay by cash? I made a face back to her and told her no, I would pay by card. That settled it. The bill cam to 72 Dirham.
While walking out I told the person who goofed up on the order that the food was good, because it really was. Then I went back to the internet and saw I was not alone. Many people gave them 1 star rating on their own FB page because of the service.
Will I go back to Sultan Saray? Yes, I will, for the great location and good food, but this time I would know what to expect of them when it came to service.
I am giving them the benefit of doubt for the service. But if I faced a similar experience again, I would surely give them a miss.