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Emirate of Sharjah

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Emirate of Sharjah

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
Country United Arab Emirates
Seat Sharjah
 • Type Absolute monarchy
 • Emir Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi
 • Total 2,590 km2 (1,000 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Total 890,669

The Emirate of Sharjah (; Arabic: الشارقةAš Šāriqah) is one of the states of the United Arab Emirates. The emirate covers 2,590 square kilometres (1,000 sq mi) and has a population of over 800,000 (2008).[2] The emirate of Sharjah comprises the capital city of Sharjah, after which it is named, and other minor towns and exclaves such as Kalba, Dibba Al-Hisn and Khor Fakkan.

The emirate is a constitutional monarchy.[3] It has been ruled by Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi since 1972.


  • History 1
    • Rulers 1.1
  • Geography 2
  • Government 3
    • Commerce and Tourism Development Authority 3.1
    • Investment and Development Authority 3.2
    • Decency Laws 3.3
  • Free Trade Zones 4
  • Education 5
  • Media 6
  • Culture 7
    • Sharjah Art Foundation 7.1
    • Sharjah Museums 7.2
    • Expo Centre 7.3
    • Sharjah Light Festival 7.4
  • Stamps 8
  • Sports 9
    • Cricket 9.1
    • Football 9.2
    • Powerboat Racing 9.3
  • Transportation 10
    • Airports 10.1
    • Public transportation 10.2
    • Taxis 10.3
  • City of Sharjah 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


Older residential area of Sharjah, displaying the local architecture

Human settlement in the area covered by the emirate has existed for over 500,000 years, with significant finds made of early axes and stone tools as well as Copper and Iron Age implements in Al Dhaid, Madam and Faya.[4] Historically the emirate was one of the wealthiest towns in the region.[5]

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

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 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 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 4 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 Trucial States being given to the emirates of the coast.[6]

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.

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.[7]

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 bin Muhammad Al Qasimi (Sheikh Khalid) joined Sharjah to the United Arab Emirates.[8] On 24 January 1972 the former ruler Sheikh Saqr staged a leftist coup. Having previously deposed Saqr, Sheikh Khalid had ordered the demolition of Sharjah Fort (Al Hisn Sharjah) to expiate Saqr's memory. Saqr took over Khalid's palace, holding him inside and in the ensuing confusion Sheikh Khalid was killed. Saqr was arrested and Khalid's brother, Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, an author and historian, came to power.[9]

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 Reign Birth Death Name Notes
1727 c. - 1777 Sheikh Rashid bin Matar bin Rahma Al Qasimi
1777–1803 Sheikh Saqr I bin Rashid Al Qasimi
1803–1840 1866 Sheikh Sultan I bin Saqr Al Qasimi First time
1840 Sheikh Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1840–1866 1866 Sheikh Sultan I bin Saqr Al Qasimi Second time
1866 - 1868 (14 April) 1886 Sheikh Khalid I bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1868 (14 April) - 1883 (March)
1869-1983 jointly w/next leader
1919 Sheikh Salim bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1869–1871 Sheikh Ibrahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1883 (March) - 1914 1914 Sheikh Saqr II bin Khalid Al Qasimi
1914 (13 April) - 1924 (21 November) Sheikh Khalid II bin Ahmad Al Qasimi
1924 (21 November) - 1951 1951 Sheikh Sultan II bin Saqr Al Qasimi
1951 - 1951 (May) Sheikh Muhammad bin Saqr Al Qasimi
1951 (May) - 1965 (24 June) 1925 1993 Sheikh Saqr III bin Sultan Al Qasimi
1965 (24 June) - 1972 (24 January) 1931 1972 Sheikh Khalid III bin Muhammad Al Qasimi
1972 (25 January) - 1972 Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad Al Qasimi Acting
1972 - 1987 (17 June) 1939 Sheikh Dr. Sultan III bin Muhammad Al Qasimi First time
1987 (17 June) - 1987 (23 June) 1937 2004 Sheikh `Abd al-`Aziz bin Muhammad Al Qasimi
1987 (23 June) - present 1939 Sheikh Dr. Sultan III bin Muhammad Al Qasimi Second time[10]


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 square kilometres (1,000 sq mi) 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).[2]

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.

Khor Fakkan beach

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,[2] and Abu Musa is claimed by UAE, but controlled by Iran. Sharjah has an exclave containing the village of Nahwa, located inside the Omani enclave of Madha which borders Fujairah 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 Municipality was founded in 1927. A decree issued in 1971 defined the role of the contemporary municipality, which encompasses public health, agricultural policy and management and infrastructural and engineering support. Water and electricity services are provided by Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) and waste management by recycling and waste management company Bea'ah. Company registration and other aspects of economic planning and activity are undertaken by the Economic Development Department.

A Sharjah e-government portal offers access to a number of services online.

Commerce and Tourism Development Authority

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

"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:

  • Al Qasba - 10,0000-acre project including a 1 km-long man-made canal and 60m high observation wheel, it was made open for the public in 2005. It includes Masrah Al Qasba, a theatre, the Maraya Art Centre, the Multaqa Al Qasba meetings and conference centre and a children’s Fun Zone. The project, managed by the Al Qasba Development Authority (an affiliate of Shurooq) has an architectural design including pedestrian bridges, boats, and lagoons. It attracted two million visitors in 2011.
  • Al Majaz Waterfront - Shurooq opened the Al Majaz Waterfront in December 2011 after redeveloping it. The new park, located between Jamal Abdul Nasser Street and Khalid Lagoon Corniche, covers an area of three km2 for recreation, including six new buildings with restaurants and a 100m tall water fountain.
  • Heart of Sharjah - The Heart of Sharjah, slated for completion in January 2015, has been proposed by Shurooq as a tourist and trade destination with commercial, cultural and residential projects as well as hotel, archaeological sites, museums and commercial space.
  • The Chedi Khorfakkan Resort - The Chedi Khorfakkan, scheduled to open in 2015, is under construction an hour outside of Sharjah city centre. Shurooq has stated that once complete, the project will include a tourist resort and a fort on the Al Suwifa Mountain.

Decency Laws

Conservative 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 Licence (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.[11]

Free Trade Zones

Sharjah has two main free trade zones: the seaport and free trade zone of Hamriyah and the Sharjah Airport International Free Trade Zone (SAIF Zone).

The Hamriyah Free Zone Authority was established by an Emiri decree issued in November 12, 1995 and consists of a port and associated logistics and trade facilities.

Also established in 1995, the SAIF Zone is adjacent to Sharjah International Airport and is currently home to some 2,500 companies.


Universities in Sharjah:

The University City of Sharjah is an educational district to the east of 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.[12]




  • Sharjah TV


The Souq Al Markazi, or 'Blue Souq' is the central souk in Sharjah

Sharjah has long invested considerable resources in building a strong cultural identity and heritage and was named in 1998 as UNESCO's 'Arab Capital of Culture', an event commemorated by a large pillar erected opposite the Sharjah Desert Park and Arabian Wildlife Centre between Sharjah and Dhaid cities.

Sharjah was also named as Islamic Culture Capital 2014 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Sharjah Art Foundation works on a broad range of contemporary art and cultural programmes to the communities of Sharjah, the UAE and the region, including the Sharjah Biennial which first took place in 1993. Founded in 2009, SAF also organises the annual March Meeting, residencies, production grants, commissions, exhibitions, research, publications and a growing art collection as well as a number of education and public programmes. Sharjah Art Foundation is funded by the Department of Culture and Information.

Sharjah Museums

The city has 16 museums.[13] 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
  • Bait Al Naboodah
  • Bait Sheikh Saeed Bin Hameed Al Qasimi (Kalba)
  • Sharjah Calligraphy Museum
  • Sharjah Discovery Centre
  • Sharjah Heritage Museum
  • Sharjah Maritime Museum
  • Sharjah Museum for Islamic Civilisation
  • Sharjah Science Museum
  • Sharjah Aquarium
  • Sharjah Fort (Al Hisn Sharjah)
  • Majlis Al Madifaa
  • Sharjah Classic Cars Museum

Expo Centre

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.[14]

Sharjah Light Festival

The Sharjah Light Festival (SCTDA) is a nightly art exhibit with local and international artists that takes place in public places. The festival, which is the first event of its kind in the region, runs for nine nights in the month of February using the latest graphics and lighting techniques and 3-D technology. The festival takes place in 14 locations across the emirate offering a unique combination of light and music to create innovative three-dimensional designs on mosques, key landmarks and heritage buildings.[15]


In 1963, Britain ceded responsibility for the Trucial States' postal systems. An American philatelic entrepreneur by the name of Finbar Kenny saw the opportunity to create a number of editions of stamps aimed at the lucrative collector's market and in 1964 concluded a deal with a number of Trucial States to take the franchise for the production of stamps for their respective governments. Kenny had made something of a specialty out of signing these deals, also signing with the Rulers of Ajman and Fujairah in 1964 - and getting involved in a bribery case in the USA over his dealings with the government of the Cook Islands. The issue of stamps from Ajman's dependency of Manama - a tiny agrarian village in the remote plains at which a 'post office' was opened - is a perfect example.

These stamps, luridly illustrated and irrelevant to the actual emirates they purported to come from (editions included 'Space Research' and 'Tokyo Olympic Games') became known as 'dunes'. Their proliferation quickly devalued them.

Sharjah is therefore known by many stamp collectors for these issues by the Sharjah Post Office shortly before the formation of the United Arab Emirates.[16] Many of these items are not listed by many popular catalogues.[17]


One Day International cricket match at Sharjah

Sport establishments in Sharjah are managed by the Sharjah Sports Council.[18]


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.



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.[19] It handled 6,634,570 passengers in 2011.[20]

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 Alexandria) and Morocco (Mohammed V International Airport, Casablanca), delayed plans to establish a fourth hub in Jordan in 2012.

Public transportation

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.[21] 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.[22]


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.[23] For intra-city travel, the minimum fare is AED 10 and for Sharjah to Dubai travel, base fare is AED 20.

City of Sharjah

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


  1. ^!menu/standard/file/gn_ae_hotline_sharjah.pdf
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Al Jandaly, Bassama. "Sharjah's decency law takes effect today." Gulf News. 26 September 2001. Retrieved on 29 November 2011.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Sharjah World Book Fair
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Sharjah Sports Council.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Sharjah International Airport – Statistics 2007 Archived 7 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Sharjah city bus service takes new route of progress in Gulf News accessed on 06-24-2008
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links

  • (Arabic) Sharjah Municipality official website
  • (English) Sharjah Municipality official website
  • Sharjah Aquarium
  • New Sharjah emblem
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