Sharjah, the cultural capital of the Arab world, is the third largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, and a leading center of education in the Middle East.
The Emirate of Sharjah is renowned for its vibrant multicultural ambiance, diverse museums that display both rich cultural heritage and contemporary artwork, and a charming blend of historical and modern architectural sites.
Sharjah is a WHO healthy city and a center for industry and culture. The Emirate of Sharjah offers a clean and safe living environment, affordable housing and an enjoyable lifestyle supported by many amenities, including a variety of sports and leisure activities, world-class shopping and international dining.
The history of Sharjah dates back to 5000 years when it was one of the wealthiest towns in the gulf region. At that time, the population of the city was very low and the income sources were associated with the economic activities such as trade, farming, hunting, fishing and pearl farming.
In the 16th century, the town became a little unstable as the Portuguese conquered area at the east coast in order to control the spice trade. The fort at Khor Fakkan, Kalba and Dibba were built under their command. After that, the Dutch tried to dominate the area for the same reason.
The 17th century was the turning point of the city as the British arrived in the region and started trading with Qawasim, the forefathers of present Sharjah's ruling family. The area of the Gulf and Red sea were preferred by Europeans for linking principal routes of communication between the Mediterranean and India.
In the early of 18th century, ruling Qawasim turned out to be a stronger marine power in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. In 1804, Sultan bin Saqr bin Rashid Al Qasimi became the Sheikh of Sharjah. This forefather of the present ruler governed Sharjah for over 50 years. At the end of 18th century, the relationships between Qawasim and the British deteriorated as they blamed each other for attacks and misbehaviour.
In 1809, the initial land-based attacks by the British were stopped. In the year 1820, the first of other peace treaties were signed assuring maritime peace, security and protection of the British against any attacks for 150 years. Then the coast was known as Oman Peaceful Coast and Sheikhdoms of Oman as reconciled countries. Until the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, these names were attached to the relevant regions.
The developing years brought many new things to the city. The city flourished with the help of coastal trading and pearling. In 1932, the city became the staging point for the Imperial Airways flights departing from England to India and vice versa.
The city was the regional base for the British RAF until 1971. The British presence in the city officially ended with the formation of the UAE. On 2nd December 1971, Sharjah became part of the United Arab Emirates as a founder member. In 1972, His Highness Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi succeeded as the ruler of Sharjah. In the same year, oil was found in the Mubarak oilfield situated 80kms offshore and close to the Abu Mousa Island. The production of oil began two years later and also gas drilling was started in 1990.
Sharjah is located at a longitude of 55 degrees and 25 East, and a latitude of 25 degrees and 22 North. Sharjah is the oldest Emirate on the coast of Oman, and lies in the centre of other emirates, spread over an area of 2600 sq. km, occupying 3.3% of the total area of the United Arab Emirates (not counting the islands).
It is the only emirate that overlooks the coastline on the Arabian Gulf from the West and the Gulf of Oman (Indian Ocean) from the East. The coastline on the Gulf extends about 20 Km, and within 80 Km to the Gulf of Oman.
On the eastern coast of the Gulf of Oman, the emirate has three areas: Khor Fakkan (in which there is an important seaport), Kalba and Dibba Al Husn. The Emirate has some oases, the most important being Al Dhaid.
It also has islands of Abu Mousa and Sir Bunair. Between the city of Sharjah and the east coast, there are areas of Maliha, Fileh and Madam. It also has sandy plains on the coast, extending from the west coast to the mountains. The east coastal plain extends up to the Hajar mountains, a fertile area.
Weather is pleasant from the month of November to April, with the days being sunny and warm and evening’s cool, with low humidity and daytime temperatures ranging from 18 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. Rains and tropical storms can be expected during January, February and March.
The weather gets warm from May to September, with extremely high temperatures at noon in July and August up to 45 degrees Celsius, and it is warm at night, where the temperatures reach 25 degrees Celsius.
Sharjah population stands at over 1.4 million people, including 175,432 Emiratis and over 1,2 million expatriates, a census carried out in 2015 by the Department of Statistics and Community Development in Sharjah (DSCD).
According to DSCD Sharjah’s overall population is 1,405,843. There are 175,432 Emirati nationals — 86,325 males and 89,098 females — who constitute 12 per cent of the population. The number of expatriate residents is 1,230,417, including 834,542 males and 395,875 females, making up 87 per cent of the population.
The emirate of Sharjah is ruled by H. H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi , continuing the legacy of Al Qasimi rulers since 1600 AD.
His Highness is the 18th Ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah in a chain of Al Qasimi Rulers since year 1600 AD. He has been at the forefront of cultural, economic and social development in the Emirate. He also played a significant role in promoting cultural interaction and dialogue among nations at local, regional and international levels.
Dr. Sheikh Sultan launched key initiatives at the local, as well as, at the international level. He is a Founding Member of the Companion of The Guild of Cambridge Benefactors, Cambridge University. He is also a Founding Member of the University of Exeter's College of Benefactors, Exeter University.
The Sharjah economy system supports a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, housing almost 45,000 small and medium-sized enterprises focussing on manufacturing, real estate, gas, tourism, education, healthcare, logistics and business services.
In 2014, its GDP reached around AED113.89 billion. Manufacturing is an important source of the emirate's overall economy and contributes to approximately 19 per cent of its annual GDP.
Sharjah has 19 industrial areas that contribute to more than 48 per cent of the UAE's gross industrial output. It has three ports with a total area of 49,588,000sq. m. In addition, it has two free zones: SAIF Zone and Hamriyah Free Zone. Expo Centre Sharjah is one of the most popular trade exhibition venues in the region which hosts various B2B and B2C events.
One of the UAE’s highest priorities has always been education. As President His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, noted, “The greatest use that can be made of wealth is to invest it in creating generations of educated and trained people.”
The UAE has focused on educating both men and women. In 1975, the rate of adult literacy was 54 percent among men and 31 percent among women. Today, literacy rates for both genders are close to 95 percent.
New initiatives are being launched at all educational levels. A key area of focus has been to transform K to 12 programs, to ensure that UAE students are fully prepared to attend universities around the world and compete in the global marketplace. In addition, some of the world’s best universities are creating programs in the UAE, attracting talented students in the Arab world and globally.
The education system of the UAE is relatively new. In 1952, there were few formal schools in the country. In the 1960s and 1970s a school building program expanded the education system. Now, education at the primary and secondary level is universal.
In the 2013-2014 academic year, approximately 910,000 students were enrolled at 1,174 public and private schools.
Education reform focuses on better preparation, greater accountability, higher standards and improved professionalism. In addition, rote instruction is being replaced with more interactive forms of learning, and English-language education is being integrated into other subjects, such as math and science.
While general strategy is determined by the Ministry of Education, education councils set up in individual Emirates assist in implementing government policy. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), the Dubai Education Council (DEC), the Sharjah Education Council and the UAE Ministry of Education are each tasked with reforming the educational program in the UAE while still preserving local traditions, principles and the cultural identity of the country.
The UAE is home to a wide range of universities, both public and private. UAE citizens can attend government institutions free of charge, and the UAE has one of the highest application participation rates in the world. /
Ninety-five percent of all girls and 80 percent of boys enrolled in the final year of secondary school apply for admission to a higher education institution.
University of Sharjah – the largest university in the emirate, it is accredited by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
The American University of Sharjah (AUS) – established in 1997, it is accredited by the UAE Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, as well as the United States Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Skyline College Sharjah
Sharjah Men's College
Sharjah Women's College
The government of the UAE strongly supports education and learning services for students with special needs. The UAE signed the optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and passed Federal Law 29/2006 guaranteeing rights for people with special needs.
Vocational and rehabilitation centers have been developed throughout the country. In addition, efforts are made to include special needs students in mainstream educational settings. The government of Abu Dhabi has partnered with the New England Center for Children, a Massachusetts school serving children with autism.
The partnership has allowed the UAE to establish a comprehensive education program as well a training course for UAE nationals to provide services to students with special needs in Arabic. The UAE also participates in the Special Olympics.
A rising population combined with an aging demographic pattern has added pressures to existing healthcare services. Additionally, a steady rise in GDP per capita and the alarming rise amongst the population of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are factors fuelling greater demand for specialized healthcare services.
In order to begin combatting these issues, Sharjah Healthcare City (SHCC) was formed in March 2012. Sharjah Health City launched a healthy city in April 2012, where Sharjah was registered with the network of regional health cities of the World Health Organization.
This is based on the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, with the aim of placing health at the top of the agenda of development projects in the Emirate.
A memorandum of cooperation was signed between the Office of the Ruler of the Ruling and the World Health Organization with the aim of creating and improving a healthy and social environment.
Three years after the implementation of the city health program, the program was evaluated by the World Health Organization, where the emirate achieved a total of 88% in September 2015.
Sharjah citizens aged 60 or older are now entitled to free health care at the hospital, where previously, only citizens above 65 were eligible. Also, Citizens with disabilities receive free treatment in the hospital, as well as people aged 55 or more who are beneficiary at the social services department in Sharjah.
Sharjah is a land with architectural heritage and cultural wealth. It is also known for its various touristic sites, which include historical areas like Heart of Sharjah and modern sites like Al Qasba and Al Majaz waterfront.
In 2015, Sharjah launched Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021 aiming to attract up to 10 million tourists by 2021 and expand tourism's contribution to the emirate's economy.
Al Shaab Village: is a shopping mall in Sharjah, which has an exhibition hall consists of 250+ Stores, an ice-skating rink, outdoor amusement park, a food court, a supermarket, indoor gaming, billiard center and a Cinema. The advanced infrastructure is fully equipped with all the basic and modern facilities. Al Shaab Village is spanning across two floors. The property is owned and managed by Al Zajil Fairs Management.
Ansar Mal: is the first shopping mall of this type in UAE for its strategic location between Dubai and Sharjah. Ansar Mall provides a unique change for shopping in a new place where visitors can find all their requirements in the seven-floor shopping mall. At Ansar Mall, Dubai Sharjah highway, UAE you can find just about everything you need and wishes for! A vast supermarket to take care of day-to-day needs, a pharmacy, an electronics section that offers the latest from the international market, dazzling imitation jewellery, trend setting fashion garments, perfumes, cosmetics and accessories, formal and informal footwares for the entire family and sportswares for energetic youth, and host of other necessities.
Carrefour Mall: Carrefour is one of the largest hypermarket and supermarket chains in the world. It was launched in United Arab Emirates in 1995. Today, Carrefour operates 23 hypermarkets, 44 supermarkets, and employing over 9200 of colleagues. Carrefour operates different hypermarket and supermarket stores to meet the growing needs of its diversified customer base. In line with the brand’s commitment to provide the widest range of quality products and value for money, Carrefour today offers an unrivalled choice of more than 100,000 food and non-food products as well as thousands of household goods.
Mega Mall: opened on February 17, 2002 land marking the Emirate of Sharjah's retail sector, and becoming one of the leading retail and leisure destinations in the UAE. It is one of the largest malls in the UAE at 800,000 sq. ft. (GLA: 400,000 sq. ft.) spanning across four floors. The property is owned and managed by Citadel Properties. Mega Mall encompasses the most popular international, regional, and local brands primarily targeting the middle and upper income groups and family shoppers.
Safeer Mall: strategically located on Al Khan road, surrounded by a highly populated residential area, offers a unique blend of modern and traditional architecture. Built over 3 levels with 2 basement car parks, the mall has created a perfect balance of shopping and entertainment for its customers.
Sharjah has five major cities each with different features.
Khorfakkan - It is the largest town on the east coast, located midway between Dibba Al Hisn and Fujairah. It has an expanding container terminal and port.
Kalba - It maintains a historical charm and is known for its old forts. It attracts bird watchers, kayakers and hikers.
Dibba - It is a set of three seaside villages. Dibba Bayah belongs to the Sultanate of Oman, Dibba Muhallab belongs to Fujairah and Dibba Al Hisn which lies in between the two villages, belongs to Sharjah.
Al Dhaid - It is the third largest town in Sharjah and the main producer of fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, dates, limes, guava and mangoes which are sold in the UAE.
Al Badayer - Located in the Al Madam area, it is one of the most popular desert areas in the emirate of Sharjah, attracting campers and enthusiasts of off-road drives.
Over the years, Sharjah has grown into a centre for arts and culture. Sharjah's cultural scene has flourished under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
In 1998, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named it 'The Cultural Capital of the Arab World'.
In 2014, it was named the capital of Islamic culture for 2014 by Organisation of Islamic Countries.
Sharjah also was conferred the title of Arab Tourism Capital for 2015 during the 15th session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Tourism in Cairo on October 18 of 2012.
Further, it was declared the Capital of Arab Press 2016 during the opening of the fifth annual International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) and crowned with the prestigious 'World Book Capital' title for 2019 by Unesco.
Today, Sharjah is home to nearly a quarter of all of the UAE's museums and to popular events such as Sharjah Biennial and Sharjah International Book Fair.
Sharjah Airport Authority (SAA) is committed to manage Sharjah International Airport (SIA) in a highly professional manner that seeks to achieve a high level of safety and customer satisfaction in the delivery of all its service products through the application of continuous improvement programmes and the implementation of a formal Integrated Management System (IMS).
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.
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).
Getting around in Sharjah has become more convenient with the introduction of a high standard taxi system.
Small Taxi (5 Passengers)
Small Ladies Taxi (5 Passengers)
Family Taxi (8 Passengers)
Book a Taxi: For phone booking: Call 600525252
The official language of the UAE is Arabic, but English is widely spoken and understood, with both languages being commonly used in business and commerce.
The official currency in Sharjah is named Dirham (or United Arab Emirates Dirham; AED). The Dirham (AED) is abbreviated as DH or Dhs. It is not the currency of Sharjah only, but also other emirates including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm-Al-Quwain.
The most common notes in circulation are the 100 Dh, 50 Dh, 20 Dh, 10 Dh and 5 Dh note although there are three other less commonly used notes – 200 Dh, 500 Dh and 1000 Dh notes. 1 Dh = 100 fils and coins are available in 25 fils, 50 fils and 1 Dh denominations.
Dollars is widely accepted in Sharjah and the major credit cards such as American Express, Diner’s Club, Visa and MasterCard are acceptable throughout Sharjah. ATMs can be found across the UAE in malls, hotels and gas stations. ATMs accept foreign credit and debit cards including Switch, Maestro, Cirrus, Union Pay, Visa and MasterCard.