“Njan entha Keralathil thane aano?” (Am I still in Kerala?) would probably be the initial remark made by a Malayali after landing in Sharjah. The reason is very simple; once someone lands in Sharjah, they would see a number of Malayalis with different motives of arriving, waiting and working all within the confines of the Sharjah Airport. This does not mean that there are only Keralites here, Sharjah, an Emirate in the U.A.E., has a conglomeration of nationalities, but are Malayalis more in number?
‘What would this huge chunk of Malayalis do for leisure apart from their professional life?’ would be a question that might pop up next in our minds. No worries friends, as someone born and raised here, I’ll guide you through it. This article aims to introduce a few places that Malayalis love visiting, or in other words, places that make you feel “Malayalikale thattitu nadakan pattunillalo”.
Rolla is so popular that it is often used as a landmark for places that are even farther away. A number of Keralites are housed in and around this locality. If you knock on a random door and run, the chances of “Aarada athu?” echoing through the corridor are high. Rolla is also a connecting point between various places, as a number of transport buses start here.
Rolla Square Park has to be mentioned here. Irrespective of nationalities, families arrive and spend their leisure time at this park, again the proportion of Malayali families would be more. This park is often a story boasting place, as it saw the growth of Sharjah. The park even housed the oldest tree in the area, a banyan tree of 150 years, which died in 1978. The park was renovated with a statue beside the tree’s roots, which is a sight to see.
Rolla market is another place with a number of small shops that sells everything from A to Z (like Amazon) but the quality might fluctuate. A number of customers and shopkeepers who come here are from Kerala. The chances of a fellow shopkeeper from Pakistan talking in Malayalam are also very high.
Lulu, “Where the World comes to shop”, is a misleading slogan and should have been “Where Malayalis come to shop”. Lulu is an abode for most Keralites in the U.A.E. If you don’t trust me, ask your friends based in the UAE, whether they have shoppers/covers from Lulu. The probability of them having it is at cent per cent. I’m not exaggerating, such is the impact of Lulu in an NRI Malayali’s life.
M. A. Yusuff Ali is indeed a saviour for many, with the kind of job opportunities he has created. His contributions are two-fold; he provides jobs to a number of Keralites and incredible offers to his customers. It’s amazing to note how he manages both. To put into perspective, he has 77 stores in Sharjah alone.
It is one of the most developed commercial areas in Sharjah. Buhaira Corniche also boasts amazing scenic beauty, which attracts people from various parts of the country. This is often a weekend getaway for a number of Malayali families; to peacefully rest or take a walk.
Al Majaz Waterfront overlooks the Khaled lagoon, which offers a stunning visual beauty. There are also local shikhara rides to travel across the lagoon. Buhaira Corniche is a go-to place for most Malayali kids raised in the country as the place offers some excellent food joints too.
Some Malayalis may differ in opinion, but this one would top my list among the malls in Sharjah. This is a more youthful spot and is often the meeting point for Malayali kids in Sharjah. The number of friendships and relationships that have blossomed from this place would be a good number if recorded and known.
Do Malayalis visit Mega Mall to shop? I really do not know, but most Keralites would see it as an apt place to simply spend one’s time leisurely.
Souq Al Jubail
I’m pretty sure you would have considered this place another mall in Sharjah. Let me blow your mind. This is the local fish and vegetable market in Sharjah. What? Crazy, right? Yes, what you see right now is the developed version of an old fish and vegetable market that existed in the same place.
And yes, this is a go-to place for Malayalis in Sharjah, which is evident from the number of Keralites that visit this place. Malayalis and fish are an inseparable bond and wherever they go, this bond follows them. Thus, making Souq Al Jubail a go-to place in Sharjah.
Sharjah is a beautiful Emirate in the U.A.E.. Though not as developed as Dubai, it still has a great living experience. The cost of living is minimal when compared to Dubai and the peace the place provides is serene. Keralites, do visit a number of other places too, but this was an attempt to summarize the spots where they frequently visit.
Readers, who have been to Sharjah, share your favourite Malayali spots too, let’s cherish the nostalgia of the place.