Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
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. Historically one of the wealthiest towns in the region, it was also one of the most important ports 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.
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.
In 1998, Sharjah was named the ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ by UNESCO, an honour richly deserved. 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.