Sharjah (emirate)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Emirate of Sharjah
إمارة الشارقةّ
Imārat al-Shāriqa
Flag of Emirate of Sharjah
Coat of arms of Emirate of Sharjah
Coat of arms
Location of Sharjah in the UAE
Location of Sharjah in the UAE
Coordinates: 25°26′N 55°23′E / 25.433°N 55.383°E / 25.433; 55.383Coordinates: 25°26′N 55°23′E / 25.433°N 55.383°E / 25.433; 55.383
CountryUnited Arab Emirates
 • TypeConstitutional monarchy[citation needed]
 • EmirSultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi
 • Total2,590 km2 (1,000 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Total890,669
Jump to: navigation, search
Emirate of Sharjah
إمارة الشارقةّ
Imārat al-Shāriqa
Flag of Emirate of Sharjah
Coat of arms of Emirate of Sharjah
Coat of arms
Location of Sharjah in the UAE
Location of Sharjah in the UAE
Coordinates: 25°26′N 55°23′E / 25.433°N 55.383°E / 25.433; 55.383Coordinates: 25°26′N 55°23′E / 25.433°N 55.383°E / 25.433; 55.383
CountryUnited Arab Emirates
 • TypeConstitutional monarchy[citation needed]
 • EmirSultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi
 • Total2,590 km2 (1,000 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Total890,669

Sharjah (/ˈʃɑrə/; Arabic: الشارقةAš Šāriqah) is one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The emirate covers 2,600 km² (1,003 mi²) and has a population of over 800,000 (2008).[1] The emirate of Sharjah comprises the city of Sharjah (the seat of the emirate), and other minor towns and enclaves such as Kalba, Dibba Al-Hisn and Khor Fakkan.

The emirate is a constitutional monarchy of the Al Qasimi dynasty. It has been ruled by Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi since 1972.


Older residential area of Sharjah, displaying the local architecture

Human settlement in the city has existed for over 5,000 years.[2] Historically the emirate was one of the wealthiest towns in the region.[citation needed]

Around 1727, the Al Qasimi clan took control of Sharjah and declared the polity independent.[citation needed]

The first in a long series of maritime skirmishes between the Al Qasimi and British vessels took place in 1797, when the British-flagged Bassein Snow was seized and released two days later. The cruiser Viper was subsequently attacked off Bushire. A period of great instability followed along the coast, with a number of actions between British and Al Qasimi vessels alongside various changes of leadership and allegiances between the Rulers of Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Sharjah with Sheikh Sultan I bin Saqr Al Qasimi claiming sovereignty over 'all the Joasmee ports' in 1823, a claim recognised by the British at the time.

On 8 January 1820, Sheikh Sultan I bin Saqr Al Qasimi signed the General Maritime Treaty with Britain, accepting protectorate status in order to resist Ottoman domination. Following the expiration of a further, ten year, treaty in 1843, on the 4th May 1853 Sharjah, along with other Sheikhdoms on what was then known as the 'Arabian Coast' signed the Perpetual Treaty of Peace, which gave rise to the collective name of the 'Trucial States' given to the emirates of the coast.[3]

Like four of its neighbours, Ajman, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Qaiwain, its position along trade routes to India made it important enough to be recognized as a salute state.[citation needed]

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Sharjah was an important pearl fishing port. A British marine survey of 1830 found 'three to four hundred boats' fishing in the season, earning the ruler 100,000 Maria Theresa Dollars.[4]

In 1932, Imperial Airways established a regular air service through Sharjah, which was an overnight stop on the Eastern British Empire route. Al Mahatta Fort was built to house the airline's guests.

On 2 December 1971, Sheikh Khalid III bin Muhammad Al Qasimi (Sheikh Khalid III) joined Sharjah to the United Arab Emirates.[5] In 1972 the former ruler Sheikh Saqr staged a leftist coup and killed Khalid III. Having previously deposed Saqr, Khalid had ordered the demolition of Sharjah Fort (Al Hisn Sharjah) to expiate Saqr's memory. Saqr was unable to establish his rule and fled. Khalid III's brother, Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, an author and historian, came to power.[6] In 1987 Sultan's brother Abdulaziz staged a coup while Sultan was abroad. Huge state debt was stated as the reason. UAE President Zayed vehemently denounced the coup, and a deal was reached for Sultan to be restored, while Abdulaziz would become the Deputy Ruler. Sultan, however, dismissed Abdulaziz quite quickly. In 1999, the Crown Prince (Sultan's eldest son) died of drug addiction while on vacation in their palace in England. Sultan made the decision to testify in front of a UK court. The new Crown Prince was appointed from a remote branch of the family.


Years of ReignBirthDeathNameNotes
1727 c. - 1777Sheikh Rashid bin Matar bin Rahma Al Qasimi
1777–1803Sheikh Saqr I bin Rashid Al Qasimi
1803–18401866Sheikh Sultan I bin Saqr Al QasimiFirst time
1840Sheikh Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1840–18661866Sheikh Sultan I bin Saqr Al QasimiSecond time
1866 - 1868 (14 April)1886Sheikh Khalid I bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1868 (14 April) - 1883 (March)
1869-1983 jointly w/next leader
1919Sheikh Salim bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1869–1871Sheikh Ibrahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1883 (March) - 19141914Sheikh Saqr II bin Khalid Al Qasimi
1914 (13 April) - 1924 (21 November)Sheikh Khalid II bin Ahmad Al Qasimi
1924 (21 November) - 19511951Sheikh Sultan II bin Saqr Al Qasimi
1951 - 1951 (May)Sheikh Muhammad bin Saqr Al Qasimi
1951 (May) - 1965 (24 June)19251993Sheikh Saqr III bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1965 (24 June) - 1972 (24 January)19311972Sheikh Khalid III bin Muhammad Al Qasimi
1972 (25 January) - 1972Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad Al QasimiActing
1972 - 1987 (17 June)1939Sheikh Dr. Sultan III bin Muhammad Al QasimiFirst time
1987 (17 June) - 1987 (23 June)19372004Sheikh `Abd al-`Aziz bin Muhammad Al Qasimi
1987 (23 June) - present1939Sheikh Dr. Sultan III bin Muhammad Al QasimiSecond time[7]


The city of Sharjah, the largest population center in the emirate

Sharjah is the third largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, and is the only one to have land on both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The emirate covers 2,590 km² (1,003 mi²) which is equivalent to 3.3 per cent of the UAE's total area, excluding the islands. It has a population of over 800,000 (2008).[1]

The emirate of Sharjah comprises the city of Sharjah (the seat of the emirate), and other minor towns and enclaves. The city of Sharjah, which overlooks the Persian Gulf, has a population of 519,000 (2003 census estimate).

Sharjah City borders Dubai to the south and Ajmân to the north and the three form a conurbation.

The city lies some 170 kilometers away from the UAE capital city Abu Dhabi.

Sharjah also owns three enclaves on the east coast, bordering the Gulf of Oman. These are Kalba, Dibba Al-Hisn, and Khor Fakkan, which provides Sharjah with a major east coast port. In the Persian Gulf, the island of Sir Abu Nu’ayr belongs to Sharjah,[1] and Abu Musa is claimed by UAE, but controlled by Iran. Sharjah has an exclave called Nahwa inside the Omani enclave of Madha which borders Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah and Sharjah.

Sharjah also encompasses some important oasis areas, the most famous of which is the fertile Dhaid region, where a range of vegetables and fruits are cultivated.


Superior Court of Sharjah

Sharjah is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by the Wahhabi Al Qasimi dynasty since the 18th century, and a part of the United Arab Emirates. It is ruled by Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Sheikh of Sharjah.[1]

Commerce and Tourism Development Authority[edit]

The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority was established by decree in 1996 to "promote commercial and tourism activities" in the emirate. The state-backed authority is responsible for, among other things, creating policies for local and international exhibitions and marketing Sharjah to attract foreign investment and tourists.

Investment and Development Authority[edit]

Sharjah coat of arms
"The Eye," the observation tower at Al Qasba

The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) was established in 2009 as an independent government body to "oversee the social, cultural, environmental and economic development of Sharjah in line with its Islamic identity." It focuses on three areas for the emirate; investment, development, and asset and property management. Shurooq's developments include:


Universities in Sharjah:

The University City of Sharjah is an educational district in Sharjah City that includes AUS, the University of Sharjah, and the Higher Colleges of Technology (which in turn includes Sharjah Women's College and Sharjah Men's College. The area also includes the Sharjah Library, Police Academy, and the Sharjah Teaching Hospital.[8]





Local customs[edit]

Sharjah is the only Emirate in the UAE in which the sale of alcohol is prohibited, although its consumption in one's own home is permissible if you are in possession of a valid Alcohol License (as is the transportation of alcohol between the place of sale and the home). The only place this prohibition is relaxed is the members-only sporting club, the Sharjah Wanderers. Sharjah also maintains the strictest decency laws in the UAE, introduced in 2001, with a conservative dress code required for both men and women. Mixing between unmarried men and women is illegal: "A man and a woman who are not in a legally acceptable relationship should not be alone in public places, or in suspicious times or circumstances." According to a booklet published by the municipality in 2001.[9]

Cultural Policies[edit]

Sharjah under the oil-based economy of the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf state has become very devoted in establishing a keen art scene in the region. It was known to be the first in the Emirates to develop in 1987 but reached a saturation point when it incurred almost billion dollars in debt[citation needed]. Having survived the meltdown, Sharjah is now known as UNESCO’s Cultural Capital of the Arab World heralded in 1998.

The Cultural Policy of Sharjah is one of the most developed in the Arab world for its investment in art and culture. Sharjah is home to 17 museums and they host a big contemporary art exhibition via the Sharjah Biennale. The Sharjah Art Foundation also has a year long program that includes exhibitions, performances, and screenings. Its cultural programming is comparable to well established art centers in the West.

It was also named as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014 because of its ruler Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi’s love for culture. One of the most highly regarded cultural project of Sharjah is the ‘culture without border’ project wherein 50 books will be distributed among the 42,000 families promoting the importance of cultural awareness and development among families and children. The book ranges from themes of health, religion, history and children stories.

Gulf Art World by Robert Kluijver, mentions that the driving force behind the cultural policy of Sharjah is anchored on the Sheiks dedication to support the local art scene, shared by his family members. The devotion to the arts is not in a way a strategic conscious positioning of Sharjah as part of the Emirates but its the pleasant result of investing and developing art through cultural policies. Compared to Abu Dhabi’s obsession in building mega-structures and Dubai fueling the art market, Sharjah is known to have a reputation in cultural policies which has content. The cultural policy of Sharjah was spearheaded by the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. This lead to a grand scheme to make Sharjah the cultural capital of the UAE but also the extend towards being the cultural capital of the whole Arab world. The endorsement of UNESCO in 1988 also helped the recognition of Sharjah as a hub for culture and the arts. Establishments of several cultural institutions followed after this, thereby creating new museums, conservation efforts, active interaction with other cultures, scientific and artistic centres, and the establishment of a television satellite dedicated to art and culture.

The motivation behind the growing cultural capital of Sharjah was due to the fact that the vital importance of culture in development was acknowledged. That culture is part of the ever growing economy of the Gulf, that developing the inherited artistic and aesthetic sense of communities will be tantamount to creativity, intellectual aptitudes and stronger nationalism.


The city has over 20 museums. Sharjah’s Ruler, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad al Qasimi, established the Sharjah Museums Department, an independent department affiliated to the Ruler’s Office, in 2006. Museums in Sharjah include:

  • El Eslah School Museum
  • Al Mahatta Museum
  • Sharjah Archeology Museum
  • Sharjah Art Museum and Contemporary Arab Art
  • Bait Al Nahboodah
  • Bait Khalid Bin Ibrahim
  • Bait Sheikh Saeed Bin Hameed Al Qasimi
  • Sharjah Calligraphy Museum
  • Sharjah Discovery Centre
  • Sharjah Heritage Museum
  • Sharjah Maritime Museum
  • Sharjah Museum for Islamic Civilisation
  • Sharjah’s Natural History & Botanical Museum
  • Sharjah Science Museum
  • Sharjah Aquarium
  • Sharjah Fort (Al Hisn Sharjah)
  • Majlis Al Madifaa


One Day International cricket match at Sharjah

Sport establishments in Sharjah are managed by the Sharjah Sports Council.[10]


The Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium has hosted almost 200 cricket One Day Internationals, more than any other ground in UAE, and 4 Test matches. Since 2003, the increasingly crowded cricket calendar has precluded the holding of any major international matches at Sharjah although the stadium has been the venue for certain other matches, such as the 2004 ICC Intercontinental Cup. The use of the venue has declined as the new 20,000 seat Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi has become the preferred venue for cricket in the UAE.


Football teams in Sharjah emirate:

  1. Al Sharjah sport club
  2. Al Shaab Sports Club
  3. Al Hemriah Sports Club
  4. Al-Thaid (Al Thaid)
  5. Al Ittihad Sports Club (Kalba)
  6. Al Khaleej Club (Khor Fakkan)
  7. Dibba Al-Hisn Sports Club
Powerboat Racing

Sharjah has hosted the F1 Powerboat Race since 2000. The December event is held during the Sharjah Water Festival and attracts over 75,000 visitors to the emirate.


UNESCO Award[edit]

UNESCO named Sharjah 'The Cultural capital of the Arab World' in 1998.[11] The seventeen museums in Sharjah played a critical role in obtaining the award.[12]

The Sharjah area of Al Shuwaiheen, from 1993-1995, underwent heavy restoration, specifically of five architecturally historical buildings and a mosque. The area is considered a cultural center of the region, dating back to the end of the 18th century.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19]


Stamps of Sharjah

Like the other former Trucial States, Sharjah's name is known by many stamp collectors because of the large numbers of stamps that were issued by the Sharjah Post Office shortly before the formation of the United Arab Emirates.[20] Many of these items feature subjects unrelated to the emirates whose names they bear, and therefore many popular catalogues do not list them.[21]


Expo Centre[edit]

Expo Centre under construction in 2001

The Expo Centre Sharjah in the city of Sharjah holds an annual book fair that is known throughout the region. It was founded, built and operated from 1976 to 1989 by Frederick Pittera, an international producer of Trade & Consumer Fairs. The event typically attracts hundreds of local and international publishers and thousands of titles.[22]

Sharjah Light Festival[edit]

The Sharjah Light Festival (SCTDA) is a nightly art exhibit with local and international artists that takes place in public places.[23]



International airports in the city of Sharjah include the Sharjah International Airport and Port Khalid.

Sharjah International Airport (IATA: SHJ) has connections to all major international locations. It is 10 kilometres from Sharjah City Centre and about 15 kilometres away from Dubai. It is a major cargo airport and the main base of Air Arabia. The airport served total 4,324,313 passengers and 51,314 flights in 2007. It also handled 570,363 tonnes of cargo in the same year. Over 60,000 aircraft movements were recorded in 2009.[24] It handled 6,634,570 passengers in 2011.[25]

Sharjah International Airport is located 10 kilometres from Sharjah city centre and 15 km from Dubai. As of 2012 it has 34 international carriers and 13 cargo airlines. In 2008, Sharjah International Airport announced it would invest AED662m (US$180m) to renovate the airport’s buildings, build a new terminal and increase car parking. The project is slated for completion in 2015, by which time the airport aims to be handling eight million passengers annually.

Air Arabia

Sharjah International Airport is the main base of Air Arabia, the Middle East’s largest low cost carrier. It was the Middle East’s first budget airline when launched by the Ruler of Sharjah in 2003. The number of passengers flying to its near 70 destinations grew six percent in 2011 to 4.7 million. Net profit for 2011 was AED274m (US$74.6m), down 13 percent on the previous year. The airline, which also has hubs in Egypt (Borg El Arab Airport, Alexandria) and Morocco (Mohammed V International Airport, Casablanca), delayed plans to establish a fourth hub in Jordan in 2012.

Public transportation[edit]

The Sharjah Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) has started the public transport system in Sharjah from May 23, 2008 with 11 buses running on the first route, Route 14 from Sharjah International Airport to Al-Sharq terminal. By November 2008, 142 buses are expected to operate on 18 routes.[26] On February 2010, there were 115 Sharjah intercity buses, which make 250 trips daily. The tariff for these intercity buses ranges from AED 5 to AED 30.[27]


Metered Taxis are available in Sharjah for the intra-city as well as the inter-city travel. The base fare is AED 3 with AED 1 charged for every 650 meters of travel.[28] For intra-city travel, the minimum fare is AED 10 and for Sharjah to Dubai travel, base fare is AED 20.

City of Sharjah[edit]

Main article: Sharjah (city)

The city of Sharjah contains the main administrative and commercial centers, as well as a number of cultural institutions including several museums. Distinctive landmarks are the two major covered souks, reflecting Islamic design; a number of recreational areas and public parks such as Al Jazeirah Fun Park and Al Buheirah Corniche. The city is also notable for numerous mosques.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Sharjah offers demand for property investment, says Cluttons". Overseas Property Professional. August 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  2. ^ "Central Private Hospital Tour". Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  3. ^ Schofield, R (1990). Islands and Maritime Boundaries of the Gulf 1798–1960 Vol 1. UK: Archive Editions. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-85207-275-9. 
  4. ^ Schofield, R (1990). Islands and Maritime Boundaries of the Gulf 1798–1960. UK: Archive Editions. p. 544. ISBN 978-1-85207-275-9. 
  5. ^ "Radical Sheik". New York Times. January 30, 1972. p. E4. 
  6. ^ Jessup, John E. (1998). An encyclopedic dictionary of conflict and conflict resolution, 1945-1996. Greenwood Press. p. 773. ISBN 9780313281129. 
  7. ^ "Sharjah". 40 Years of the UAE. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  8. ^ "Sharjah University City". The Emirates Network [TEN] Education. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  9. ^ Al Jandaly, Bassama. "Sharjah's decency law takes effect today." Gulf News. 26 September 2001. Retrieved on 29 November 2011.
  10. ^ Sharjah Sports Council.
  11. ^ About Sharjah, Sharjah Tourism.
  12. ^ Sharjah Museums.
  13. ^ "Culture - Sharjah Commerce Tourism Development Authority". 2012-05-27. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Cultural Policy. Sharjah March Meeting 2012" (in Spanish). 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  16. ^ "UAE Culture & Heritage: Sharjah". UAEinteract. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  17. ^ "Sharjah". Gulf Art Guide. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  18. ^ "Department of Culture and Information - Sharjah Government". Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  19. ^ Sharjah Art Foundation. "Sharjah Art Foundation - Home". Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  20. ^ "Sharjah and Dependencies - stamps and postal stationery on-line catalogue". Oh My Gosh Publishing. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  21. ^ Carlton, R. Scott (1997). The International Encyclopedic Dictionary of Philately. Krause Publications. p. 173. ISBN 9780873414487. 
  22. ^ Sharjah World Book Fair
  23. ^ "Sharjah Light Festival". Sharjah Commerce And Tourism Development Authority. 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  24. ^ "Sharjah International Airport Yearbook & Directory". Sharjah Airport Authority. 2010. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  25. ^ Sharjah International Airport – Statistics 2007[dead link]
  26. ^ Sharjah city bus service takes new route of progress in Gulf News accessed on 06-24-2008
  27. ^ Shaaban, Ahmed (2010-02-14). "New Sharjah-Dubai Bus Route Soon". Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  28. ^ Shaaban, Ahmed (2010-02-08). "Commuters in a tizzy as Sharjah Hikes Taxi Fares". Khaleej Times. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 

External links[edit]