Touching borders with every other emirate of the UAE and boasting two very special coastlines, the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, the emirate of Sharjah is the third most populated emirate and its exceptionally diverse terrain means that the emirate is home to beautiful natural landscapes made up of mountains, lush valleys and sparkling seas, alongside the city’s iconic architecture, myriad museums and award-winning art galleries. Unmissable for heritage, beauty and unique experiences, find your way to Sharjah for a special welcome.
The first evidence of human life in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was discovered at Jebel Fayah in Sharjah and dates back to 85,000 BCE. Many of the items unearthed during archaeological excavations in the 1950s date back to the Stone Age and are on display at the Sharjah Archaeology Museum.
Around 7,000 years ago, the milder climate and increased rainfall transformed the barren desert into fertile plains where nomadic communities thrived. Over the millennia that followed, Sharjah (which means ‘east’ or ‘rising sun’ in Arabic) relied upon the ocean for its prosperity through fishing, dhow-building and trading.
In the 1720s, the Qawasim tribe, whose descendants now rule Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, became the major power in the region, which saw Sharjah become the most important port on the lower Arabian Gulf. Alongside fishing, trading and dhow-building, pearling was an important industry that lasted into the late 1940s.
Sharjah has been ruled by one family since the 17th century. The 18th Ruler of Sharjah in the chain of Qawasim rulers who date back to 1600 CE, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, came to power on January 25, 1972, the same year that oil was struck in Sharjah’s offshore Mubarak field. Revenues from oil and gas have sustained Sharjah’s development, creating a prosperous and modern state that retains the traditions of its Islamic culture
The 20th century was marked by rapid development, including the establishment of the UAE’s first international airport in Sharjah in 1932 and the introduction of modern schools, hospitals and telecommunications. In 1971, the federation of the United Arab Emirates was established, comprising the emirates of Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and, in 1972, Ras Al Khaimah.
Sharjah was the first place to establish an airport in the Gulf region, at Al Mahatta, the earliest school, library and municipality were all established in Sharjah, which was also the first among the seven Emirates to give women the right of education in 1942.
In 1998, Sharjah was named UNESCO’s Cultural Capital of the Arab World, 2014 saw the emirate win Islamic Culture Capital of the Arab Region, 2015 brought the Capital of Arab Tourism award and most recently, Sharjah was named UNESCO’s World Book Capital 2019.