Sharjah has kept the spirit of its history alive by innovatively incorporating tradition into every aspect of contemporary development. The result is a vibrant, modern Emirate that simultaneously looks forward to a bright future as it looks back respectfully to its history. The successful combination of the values of the past with the advantages of modern technology has created a special ethos for Sharjah.
The first evidence of human life in the UAE was discovered on Jebel Fayah in Sharjah Emirate and dates back to around 85,000 BC. About 7,000 years ago the milder climate and increased rainfall transformed the barren desert into fertile plains on which the nomadic fishing, hunting and herding communities thrived. Little was known about the prehistory of this region until archaeological excavations began in the 1950s in the UAE. Some of the most significant discoveries were made at sites in Sharjah including Mleiha, Kalba, Tell Abraq, Dibba and Jebel al-Bhuhais. Many of the items unearthed in the Emirate date back to the Stone Age or later, and are on display at the Sharjah Archaeology Museum.
Sharjah, meaning ‘rising sun’, dates back more than 5,000 years and appears as early as the 2nd century AD in a map drawn by the Greek geographer Ptolemy, which indicates the settlement of Sarcoa, where Sharjah can now be found. In 1490 AD, Sharjah was mentioned in records written by the famous Arab navigator, Ahmad Ibn Majid, as he navigated the Gulf’s waters.
Historically, Sharjah was one of the wealthiest towns in the region. It was the most important port on the lower Arabian Gulf from the time of the early trading with the East into the first half of the 19th century. Alongside fishing and trading, pearling was a primary income generating industry that lasted into the late 1940s. The first international airport on this coast was established in Sharjah in1932. The Federation of the UAE was formed in 1971.
Since the discovery of oil in 1972, Sharjah has developed from small palm-frond ‘arish’ houses hugging the creeks, to a contemporary city that extends all the way to the UAE’s east coast. Modern development took off in the early 1970’s resulting in the rapid expansion of the town and Emirate as a whole.
Present day Sharjah is built on foundations rich in history and Islamic traditions: Arabian heritage is still recognized with pride and ancient customs are still practiced in everyday life.