Sharjah is the third largest of the seven
states which form the United Arab Emirates.
The settlement of Sharjah dates back some 6,000
years when it is believed to have been called
Sarcoa. The population was small and people relied
on trade and sea faring in addition to, farming,
hunting, fishing and pearling. Many of the early
settlements were based around the 'falaj', a man
made underground water course.
From the 16th century onwards, times were turbulent.
In 1507, the Portuguese savagely took command of the
East Coast in order to establish control of the
spice trade. They built forts at Khor Fakkan, Kalba
and Dibba and their reign lasted a century till the
Dutch gained supremacy for the same reason.
By the 17th century the British arrived and began
trading with the Qawassim, the forefathers of
today's ruling family. The Europeans favored the
Gulf and the Red Sea as principal routes of
communication between the Mediterranean and India.
In the 18th century, the ruling Qawassim tribe
became the mighty seafarers who created an important
maritime power in the southern Gulf. Their
strongholds were based in Ras Al Khaimah and
Sharjah. Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr bin Rashid Al
Qassimi, the patriarch of today's rulers became the
Sheikh of Sharjah in 1804 and governed for over 50
By the turn of the century relationships between the
Qawassim and the British deteriorated. As documented
in 'The Myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf', H.H. Dr.
Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, member of the
Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has shown,
that whilst the British blamed all the attacks on
their ships on the Qawassim, the latter were often
blamed for the other's misconduct.
In 1809, the British mounted their initial land
based attack on the Qawassim in Ras Al Khaimah. By
1820, the first of several Treaties of Peace was
signed guaranteeing peace at sea and protection of
the British against attack for 150 years. The coast
became known as the Trucial Oman and the Sheikhdoms
as the Trucial States. These names remained from
1853 up until the formation of the United Arab
Emirates in 1971.
Whilst the Emirate prospered from trade and pearling
Sharjah had many 'firsts' to its credit during these
years of development.
Between 1823 and 1954, Sharjah was the base for
Britain's only political representative on the
1932, a staging post was established by the British
Government in Sharjah, for the Imperial Airways
flights en route from England to India. This was the
first airport in the Emirates and is still in use
today, as a main road, not a runway!
At the time of its establishment, the airport was
located two miles across the desert from the town.
All provisions for the air traveler were brought by
donkey including the in-flight catering and water
from wells. Traders traveled from the town by camel
to do business with the foreigners.
The Sheikh's Fort (Al Hisn) was located where
Sharjah's modern banking center (Al Boorj Avenue)
now stands and Al Arouba Street was used for horse
The importance of the airport helped cushion the
collapse of the pearl trade in the 1930's. Sharjah
suffered another set back thirty years later when
the sea trade also declined due to the silting up of
Sharjah remained the regional base for the British
RAF and Trucial Oman Scouts until British presence
officially ended in 1971 with independence.
In 1953, the first properly organized school in the
UAE was established in Sharjah attracting students
throughout the country.
Sharjah joined the United Arab Emirates as a founder
member on 2nd December, 1971.
In 1972, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al
Qassimi succeeded as the ruler of Sharjah.
The same year, oil was struck in the Mubarak field,
80 kms offshore, close to the island of Abu Mousa.
Two years later production began and at its peak
35,000 barrels were produced per day. A few years
later gas condensate was discovered and drilling
started in 1990.
This natural wealth combined with the foresight of
His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al
Qassimi has allowed Sharjah to enjoy prosperity and
vitality whilst retaining the charms and traditional
values of an Islamic city.
Sharjah Travel Guide
Sharjah General Information
Sharjah Tourist Attractions
United Arab Emirates
Shopping in UAE
Nightlife and Dining Out
Fishing in UAE