Abu Dhabi and Dubai are two of the most dynamic cultural hubs in the Gulf — but this year, it’s worth exploring another part of the country that’s quietly becoming an international arts destination. Sharjah, a small emirate whose urban center is just a 20-minute drive from Dubai, is home to some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in the U.A.E., plus a number of world-class museums, like the modern Sharjah Art Foundation. 2019 sees the 14th iteration of the Sharjah Biennial, as well as the first-ever Sharjah Architecture Triennial, the only event of its kind in the MENASA region. New hotels give visitors a refreshing alternative to the gilded glamour of the emirate next door. The 53-room Al Bait, in Sharjah’s old town center, was built from four historic residences. The hotel draws on the aesthetics of a traditional Emirati home and offers local culinary specialties like Arabic coffee and booza ice cream. In the Khor Kalba nature reserve, you’ll find the new Kingfisher Lodge desert camp, the first from new hotel group Sharjah Collection — it’s unique in the U.A.E., with direct access to Gulf of Oman beaches and a menu focusing on fresh seafood.