Hot Spot:

Island Of Imagination

BY: Sana Panjwani
Al Noor Island is one of the UAE's hottest art destinations. Here's all you need to know before visiting
When someone says Sharjah, the mind often doesn't associate anything further than the term "terrible traffic", and very rarely does anyone choose to drive over to the third most populous city in the UAE for a weekend fiesta.

In fact, when it comes down to unwinding or looking for something new to try, residents often opt for Dubai and Abu Dhabi to escape to, missing out on the wonders Sharjah, surprisingly, holds on its jam-packed streets such as Al Noor Island, one of the city's hottest attractions.

Just shy of three years old, Al Noor Island is a 28,000 sqm creative haven located on Khalid Lagoon committed to promoting the importance of art and the environment in our culture. Its development was part of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to create unique destinations in the emirate as well as engage people with nature and highlight art values and avant-garde architecture.

The island is home to 2,200 trees and plants with over 70,000 additional plants planted on the island, including the Bismarckia Nobilis palm, Hibiscus Rosa chinensis mix and Acacia Arabica. The biggest attraction on the island, however, is The Butterfly House.

FLUTTER, FLUTTER

Home to at least 500 exotic butterflies, the House is the island's main attraction with its ornamentally-perforated shadow roof and its biomorphic exterior making it quite the innovative design piece.

There are butterflies from 22 different species displayed brought in from regions like East Asia and South America. Some of the highlights include the Danaus chrysippus, also known as the African monarch; the Doleschallia bisaltide, also known as the Autumn Leaf; and the Pachliopta aristolochiae or rose butterfly which can be found across Far East Asia and is known for its bright colours.

There is also a cafe downstairs for visitors.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

There are a number of other attractions on site as well, including the literature pavilion - an open-seating area which invites avid readers to find a comfy nook to crawl into and curl up with a good book - as well as a children's playground, a maze garden, lush vegetation and the gleaming meadows where a flowerbed dotted with 1,200 fibre-glass blossoms sits.

There are also a number of art sculptures scattered across the island from the LED egg-shaped installation to eight other unique artworks.

Al Noor Island was designed by multimedia artist André Heller and, since its launch, it has secured a host of prestigious international awards including being named Best Leisure Architecture in Africa and Arabia (2016) as well as being the recipient of the IF Design Award 2017 and the 2018 German Design Award.

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