Sharjah Latitude and Longitude:

25°21′27″N 55°23′27″E / 25.35750°N 55.39083°E / 25.35750; 55.39083
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clockwise from top:
Al Khan Lagoon, Heritage District, Al-Noor Mosque, Cultural Palace, Blue Souk, Al-Qasba Canal
Coat of arms of Sharjah
Sharjah is located in United Arab Emirates
Location of Sharjah in the UAE
Sharjah is located in Persian Gulf
Location within the Persian Gulf
Coordinates: 25°21′27″N 55°23′27″E / 25.35750°N 55.39083°E / 25.35750; 55.39083
Country United Arab Emirates
Emirate Emirate of Sharjah
 • Type Absolute monarchy
 •  Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi
 • Metro
235.5 km2 (90.9 sq mi)
 •  Metropolis1,800,000 [1]
 • TotalUS$ 58.9 billion (2023)
 • Per capitaUS$ 32,100 (2023)

Sharjah ( /ˈʃɑːrə/; Arabic: ٱلشَّارقَة aš-Šāriqah, Gulf Arabic: aš-Šārja [3]) is the third-most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, after Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is the capital of the Emirate of Sharjah and forms part of the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area.

Sharjah is the capital of the eponymous emirate. The emirate shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates of the UAE within a federal framework, although each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions such as civil law enforcement and provision and upkeep of local facilities. Sharjah has been ruled by the Al Qasimi dynasty since the 18th century.

The city is a center for culture and industry, and alone contributes 7.4% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates. [4] The city covers an approximate area of 235 km2 and has a population of over 1,800,000 (2022-2023). [1] The sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in the emirate of Sharjah without possession of an alcohol license and alcohol is not served in hotels, restaurants or other outlets in Sharjah, due to the Muslim majority in the area. This has helped Sharjah increase the number of Islamic tourists who visit the country. [5] Sharjah has been officially named as a WHO healthy city. [6] The 2016 edition of QS Best Student Cities ranked Sharjah as the 68th best city in the world to be a university student. [7] Sharjah is regarded as the cultural capital of the UAE, [8] and was the Islamic culture capital of 2014 [9] and Sharjah World Book Capital for 2019 by UNESCO. [10]

On 1 January 2022, Sharjah made history when its public sector adopted a four-day working week and a three-day weekend, becoming the first government sector in the Gulf region and the entire Middle East to fully adopt a four-day working week. [11]


The origin of the name of Sharjah is unknown, with most common interpretations linking the origin of the word Sharjah to the word sharq ( Arabic: شَرْق, lit.'east') due to the fact that the city is located to the east of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and that Sharjah was the easternmost settlement at the time. [12]

However, other interpretations have disputed the origin of the name based on location, and suggested instead that it refers to the word shurūq ( Arabic: شُروق, lit.'sunrise'). Further theories have linked the name to a pre-Islamic idol called Abed Al Shareq that transformed into Sharjah. The origin of the word has also been linked to the Andalusi Arabic usage of the word, which was used to refer to a fort. [13]


An old door in Sharjah, displaying the historical architecture of the city.

Sharjah was historically one of the wealthiest towns in this region with a settlement in existence for over 5000 years. [14] In the early 18th century, the Huwayla tribe of the Qawasim clan established itself in Sharjah c. 1727, declaring Sharjah independent. On 8 January 1820, Sheikh Sultan I signed the General Maritime Treaty with Britain, accepting a protectorate to keep the Ottoman Turks out. Like its neighbors Ajman, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah's position on the route to India made it important enough to be recognized as a salute state (be it of the lowest class: 3 guns).

In 1829, English author and traveler James Silk Buckingham described Sharjah as such:

"In the course of the night, we had passed the port of Sharjee, on the Arabian coast, which is not an island, Niebuhr's chart, the only one in which it is inserted; but a small town, on a sandy beach, containing from five to six hundred inhabitants. It is situated in lat. 25° 34' north, and lies eleven leagues south-west of a small island, close to the shore, called Jeziret-el-Hamra; and three leagues south-west of Sharjee is Aboo Hayle." [15]

By the turn of the 20th century, Sharjah extended inland to the area now known as Wasit Suburb, the area between the city and Dhaid being under the control of the tribes of the interior. With some 15,000 inhabitants, Sharjah had some 4 or 5 shops in Layyah and a bazaar of some 200 shops in Sharjah proper. [16]

At the height of World War II, Nazi propaganda infiltrated the town. Loud transmissions of pro- Hitler speeches could be heard emanating from the Sheikh of Sharjah's palace during a period in 1940, and messages sharing a similar sentiment had been graffitied on walls in the town center according to British intelligence reports at the time. Because the message being propagated by the Germans was one of anti-imperialism, it found a sympathetic audience among some of the emirate's populace, particularly Abdullah bin Faris, a secretary of the Sheikh who was responsible for the broadcasts. After the Sheikh was confronted by the British, he wrote a letter reiterating his support for the British war efforts and disputed the charges laid out against bin Faris. Attached to the letter was a petition signed by 48 prominent individuals testifying to bin Faris' character, which, according to the British, had been misrepresented to the signees. The incident resolved after the Sheikh and bin Faris ceased transmitting propaganda and doubled down on their support of the British. [17]

On 2 December 1971, Sharjah, together with Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Umm Al Qawain, and Fujairah joined in the Act of Union to form the United Arab Emirates. The seventh emirate, Ras al-Khaimah, joined the UAE on 10 February 1972 following Iran's annexation of Ras al-Khaimah's Tunbs islands.[ citation needed]

Like the other former Trucial States, Sharjah's name is known by many stamp collectors because of the large numbers of stamps that were issued by the Sharjah Post Office shortly before the formation of the United Arab Emirates. These became part of a class of virtually worthless stamps known to collectors as Dunes. [18] Many of these items feature subjects unrelated to the emirates whose names they bear, and therefore many catalogs do not list them. [19]

Districts and landmarks

Panoramic view of Sharjah
Eye of the Emirates, a 60-metre (200 ft) tall Ferris wheel at Al Qasba. [20] Moved to Al Montazah Parks in 2018. [21]
Map of Sharjah's districts

Sharjah is the third largest city in the United Arab Emirates after Dubai and Abu Dhabi. [22] The palace of the ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, is located about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of the city.

The city of Sharjah overlooks the Persian Gulf and has a population of over 1,600,000 (2022). It contains the main administrative centres of the Government of Sharjah alongside commercial, cultural and traditional projects. The city hosts several museums of archaeology, natural history, science, arts, heritage, Islamic art and culture. [23] Distinctive landmarks include two major covered souks, reflecting Islamic design, and a number of recreational areas and public parks such as Al Montazah Fun Park and Al Buheirah Corniche. The city is also notable for its numerous elegant mosques. [24]

Rolla Sharjah

Rolla Sharjah is a historically significant landmark and city within the city of Sharjah,

Rolla Square

Named after the large rolla (banyan tree) that once stood in the square, [25] which inspired the sculpture at the center of the park, Rolla Square is a common location for workers to stroll during the weekends.[ citation needed]

Bank Street

Bank street is located near the main area of Rolla. Many bank branches and offices are located on the street. [26]

Al Hisn Sharjah

Al Hisn, also known as Sharjah Fort was a fortified complex built in 1823 as the headquarters of the then-independent Emirate of Sharjah and the residence of the Al Qasimi family. Situated in the center of the city, it was closed for renovations from 1996 to 2015, when it reopened its doors as an open-air museum under the administration of the Sharjah Museums Authority. [27]

'Smile You're in Sharjah' Roundabout

Located between the Blue Souq and Fish Market, near the Union Bank Tower, the floral call to cheer up etched on the roundabout has lent its name to the roundabout itself. 'Smile, you’re in Sharjah' is a welcome sign, spelled out in flowers in the middle of a roundabout notorious for its rush-hour traffic jams. [28]

Gold Souq

The Souq Al Markazi, or Gold Souq ( Arabic: سوق, lit.'market'), is a tourist destination and comprises a gold souq, clothing souq, and antiques and jewellery shops.[ citation needed]

Mahatta Fort

Mahatta Fort, now known as the Al Mahatta Museum, is a museum on the site of the first airport built in the region in 1932 by Imperial Airways. The accompanying fort was constructed by then-Ruler of Sharjah Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi as a rest stop for travelling crew and for protection against any potential attacks. [29] [30] The fort and airport were used extensively by the Royal Air Force during World War II, and after the war the fort became the headquarters of the Trucial Oman Scouts. [31] The airport remained in use until 1977 when Sharjah International Airport opened. The runway strip was converted into a highway and the buildings were renovated into Al Mahatta Museum, which opened in 2000. [31]

The Heart of Sharjah

Sharjah Heritage District

The Heart of Sharjah is an ongoing[ needs update] renovation and preservation project of the former old city center of Sharjah. [32] The project aims to develop the former old city center into an open-air museum with various smaller museums, galleries and commercial centers. The project is home to a 5-star hotel and the traditional Souk Al Arsa, a covered souk with an array of items for sale, including antiques. [33]

Al Qasba Canal

Al-Qasba Canal is a 1-kilometer-long canal that runs through the center of Sharjah. Located along its waterfront are several apartments, shops, and tourist attractions of the Al Qasba community. [34]

Sharjah Heritage Museum

The Sharjah Heritage Museum is situated near to the Bait Al Naboodah, just opposite Souq Al Arsah. It is built around a shaded courtyard as a reconstruction of traditional family life. There are many rooms which have displays of traditional furniture along with household items including children's costumes, toys, and jewellery.

Sharjah National Park

Sharjah National Park covers an area of nearly 630,000 sq ft (59,000 m2). [35]

Sharjah Aquarium

Located in Al Layyeh.

Al Noor Island

Aerial view of Al Noor Island
Inside Al Noor island with Sharjah skyline in the back

Al Noor Island is located in the Khalid Lagoon and covers an area of 45,470 m2 (489,400 sq ft). The destination project features art and light installations, including the 'OVO' and 'Torus' displays.[ citation needed]

Maryam Island

Maryam Island is a beachfront destination that oversees the Arabian sea. It's one of the largest projects in the emirate with an investment of 2.4 billion Dirhams (US$650M). [36] Waterside development is planned to spread across 460,000 m2 (5,000,000 sq ft), with a built-up area of 310,000 m2 (3,300,000 sq ft). [37] [38]

Wildlife Centers

The Arabian Wildlife Center opened in 1999 and was home to more than 100 species of animals. Situated at a convenient location, this center was quite close to the Sharjah International Airport. Despite the hot and dry conditions in most of Arabia, there were a number of mammal species adapted to these conditions.[ citation needed] The Breeding Centre for Endangered Wildlife, a sister facility, [39] was a member of the EAZA, like Al Ain Zoo in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, [40] but is now closed to the public. [41] The fauna, including the Arabian leopard, which have been recorded in the mountains in the eastern part of the country, [39] were transferred to Al Hefaiyah Conservation Centre in the eastern area of Kalba. [42] In 2001, The center assisted Yemeni zoos in Sana'a and Ta'izz with the management of their animals. [39]

Al Majaz Waterfront

Al Majaz Waterfront is a leisure area, a waterfront landmark of Sharjah Featuring an audio-video dancing fountain, miniature golf and a number of restaurants.[ citation needed]

Rain Room

In 2018, the experiential art installation Rain Room was given a permanent home in Sharjah. The Sharjah Art Foundation constructed a purpose-built visitor center located in the city's residential area of Al Majarrah to house the permanent installation of Rain Room.

The Flying Saucer

Reconstructed in 2015 and launched as a redeveloped arts and community center in 2020, The Flying Saucer, Sharjah is a brutalist building dating back to the 1970s. It was re-opened after a two-year renovation project by the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF). [43]

Sharjah Light Festival

The Sharjah Light Festival is held every year since 2010 on various landmarks around Sharjah. It is a display of lights using projectors and lasers on buildings. Usually, the shows have a small storyline or a theme.[ citation needed]

Places of worship

Sharjah's largest mosque, the " Sharjah Mosque" [44] [45] was inaugurated in May 2019. Located in the area of Tay, at the junction of the Emirates Road and the road to Mleiha, it can accommodate up to 25,000 worshipers, with an interior capacity of over 5,000 people. [46] Two coins, one gold and one silver, each inscribed with a verse from the Quran, were issued by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates, and designed by the Sharjah Islamic Bank, to commemorate the occasion. [47] Previously, the King Faisal Mosque, named after King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, had been the largest in the Emirate [48] and country,[ citation needed] with an area of 10,000–12,000 m2 (110,000–130,000 sq ft). [49] [50]

Sharjah also has the biggest Moscow-style Russian Orthodox church in the country.[ citation needed]

In 1997, a Syriac Orthodox church, St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Soonoro Patriarchal Cathedral, was consecrated to accommodate a growing population of Syriac Christians, many of whom are migrant workers from Kerala and southern India. [51]

Al Rahmaniyah Parks

In March 2021, the Sharjah Investment and Development authorities opened two parks in Al Rahmaniyah, Kshisha and Shaghrafa, built in a total area of 147,700 m2 (1,590,000 sq ft). It included a female-only park, along with entertainment, social, sports and educational facilities. [52]

House of Wisdom

In December 2020, Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi inaugurated a library inspired by the original House of Wisdom in Baghdad. The building was designed by Foster and Partners, extending over 12,000 m2 (130,000 sq ft). [53] On the grounds of the library is a large art piece entitled "The Scroll", a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Arabic scrolls, made by Gerry Judah. It was made to celebrate the Emirate of Sharjah being named the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2019. [54]


Sharjah has a hot desert climate ( Köppen climate classification BWh), with warm winters and extremely hot summers. The average daytime temperature during the summer ranges between 38 °C (100 °F) to 42 °C (108 °F), and occasionally on some days where temperatures exceed 45 °C (113 °F) mainly occurring during the hottest months of July and August. During winter, the average daytime temperature rarely exceeds 30 °C (86 °F). Rainfall is generally light and erratic, and occurs almost entirely from November to July. About two-thirds of the year's rain falls in the months of February and March. [55]

Climate data for Sharjah
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.5
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 24.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 17.6
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 12.1
Record low °C (°F) 3.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 9.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 1.5 3.3 4.0 1.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.4 2.0 12.8
Average relative humidity (%) 69.0 68.0 64.0 56.0 51.0 56.0 54.0 57.0 62.0 64.0 64.0 69.0 61.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 244.9 226.8 257.3 294.0 350.3 348.0 331.7 325.5 306.0 300.7 276.0 244.9 3,506.1
Source 1: NOAA (1977–1991) [56]
Source 2: National Center of Meteorology Climate Yearly Report 2003-2019 [57]


Sharjah Airport

Development of transportation services in Sharjah is a critical long-term task. Planned by the SPTC since 2008, the Sharjah Metro [58] [59] will be the third metro system in the UAE after the Dubai Metro and the Abu Dhabi Metro. The Sharjah Tram has been planned since 2015, [60] and will be the second tram system in the country after the Dubai Tram.


The Sharjah International Airport is the third-largest Middle East airfreight hub in cargo tonnage, according to official 2015 statistics from Airports Council International.[ citation needed] Sharjah International Airport is the home base of Air Arabia, a low-cost carrier.

The first international flight in Sharjah landed on 5 October 1932 in the Mahatta Fort airstrip as part of a refueling stop on Imperial Airways's India–Britain route. The former airport hosted a cinema, hotel, and a restaurant, and would eventually become a Royal Air Force military base until the UAE's independence in 1971. Mahatta Fort was the main international airport for the city until 1976, when traffic moved to Sharjah International Airport. [61]


There are two major series of highways in Sharjah, which are "E" and "S". E represents roads connecting other emirates, and S for roads within the emirate.

The major roads in Sharjah include:

  • E 88: Al Dhaid Road, connecting to the Emirate of Fujairah.
  • E 102: Sharjah–Kalbah Road, connecting to Fujairah and Kalba.
  • E 311: Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, connecting to Dubai, Ajman and Ras al-Khaimah.
  • E 11: Al Ittihad Road, connecting to Dubai.
  • E 611: Emirates Road, connecting to Dubai, Ajman and Ras Al-Khaimah
  • S 12: Maliha Road.[ citation needed]


Emirates Cab

The Sharjah Public Transportation Corporation is organizing and supervising the operations of taxis in Sharjah Emirate. Sharjah taxi service is provided through franchise companies. They cover all parts of the Emirate and cities, including shopping centers, residential areas and airport. Following are the major taxi operators in the emirates.

  • Sharjah Taxi: Sharjah City and Eastern Regions.
  • Emirates Cab: Sharjah City.
  • City Taxi: Sharjah City and Eastern Regions.
  • Union Taxi: Sharjah City.
  • Advantage Taxi: Sharjah City and Central Regions.[ citation needed]

The Sharjah Transport Corporation also provides shared transportation with the purpose of serving certain routes in Sharjah on a fixed rate for each route without using the meter. Sharjah Sharing Taxi routes are carefully selected to support people with low income and are covering areas with frequent needs for quick transfer within same location, to ease the traffic situation in Sharjah.[ citation needed]

Intercity transport

The Sharjah Public Transport Corporation operates passenger bus services nationwide, between Sharjah City, Ras Al Khaimah, Khor Fakkan, Kalba, Fujairah, Masafi, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Hamriyah Free Zone, Dhaid, Al Madam, Dibba Al Hisn, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai.[ citation needed]

Utility services

Utility services in the emirate are provided by the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, which provides electricity, water and LPG connections to about 2 million consumers. They have over 4,000 employees serving areas as far as Dhaid, Kalba and Khorfakkan. Telephone services in the emirate, both fixed lines and mobile services, are provided by the government-owned Etisalat and du communication.[ citation needed]


Modern Art exhibition by Barjeel Art Foundation at the Sharjah Art Museum

UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques, which are scattered around the country. Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday and Saturday, as a compromise between Friday's holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday and Sunday. [62]

The Ruler of Sharjah ordered the establishment of several cultural institutions. The projects covered conservation of cultural heritage, active interaction with other cultures, the construction of museums and the other cultural, scientific and artistic centers in the Emirate, and the setting up of a television satellite channel that reflects and projects the value of culture.[ citation needed]

In 1998, Sharjah was awarded the "Cultural Capitcom/centrosharjah/news/7575|url-status = live}}</ref>

Sharjah was designated the 2019 World Book Capital by UNESCO. [63]

A cultural heritage project, Heart of Sharjah, has been undertaken to preserve and restore the old town of Sharjah and return it to its 1950s state. A five-phase project intended for completion in 2025, the project is being undertaken by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, Shurooq, together with the Sharjah Institute for Heritage, the Sharjah Museums Department, and the Sharjah Art Foundation. [64]

Sharjah International Book Fair is a cultural event held every year in Sharjah. It started in the year 1982.[ citation needed]


Souq Al Markazi at night

Sharjah is the headquarters of Air Arabia, the first low-cost airline in the Middle East, which operates to the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Its headquarters are located in the Sharjah Freight Center, on the property of the Sharjah International Airport. [65] [66]

The Sharjah Airport International Free Zone, popularly known as "SAIF Zone", is one of the prominent free-trade zones in the UAE. More than 6000 companies operate from SAIF Zone. The cost of setting up business in Sharjah is less than in any other emirates of the UAE, and the focus of industrialization has in recent years turned Sharjah into a commercial center.[ citation needed] Thanks to its 100% foreign ownership and exemption from income and corporate taxes, SAIF Zone has attracted investors from more than 90 countries.[ citation needed]


According to the 2022 census, the total population of the emirate is 1.8 million, with 1.6 million of them residing in the city of Sharjah. Of the 1.8 million total population of the emirate, 208,000 were Emirati citizens, and the remainder were expatriates. [1]

Like the rest of the UAE, Arabic is the official and national language of the emirate and is used in all official capacities. However, all traffic signs, information posts, and government press releases are additionally written in English. [67] Tagalog and South Asian languages such as Hindi, Odia, Urdu, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali etc. are spoken widely by the residents of emirate. Russian is also used by the Russian and Central Asian community. Islam is the predominant religion in the emirate.


There are several public and private schools in addition to universities in Sharjah, including the University of Sharjah, American University of Sharjah, Skyline College Sharjah, Al Qasimia University, Westford School of Management, Exeed School of Business and Finance Sharjah Men's College, and Sharjah Women's College. Some of these universities are located in one area called the University City. Private schools in the city include Wesgreen International School, Westminster School, Victoria English School, the Sharjah Indian School, Sharjah English School, Delta English School, Emirates National School, American Community School Sharjah, Indian School Sharjah, the International School of Choueifat, Sharjah, Sharjah High School, DPS Delhi Private School, Gulf Asian English School, Our Own English High School and the American School of Creative Science.

Human Rights

LGBTQ rights

In addition to the UAE federal laws which criminalize homosexuality, the penal code in Sharjah actively discriminates against LGBTQ individuals. For example, Article 176 of the Sharjah Penal Code (1970) punishes "unnatural crimes (Sodomy)"—defined as "sexual intercourse with another person in contravention of the laws of nature" or "allowing a male to have intercourse with them in contravention of the laws of nature"—with imprisonment up to 10 years. Article 181 establishes that "sexual intercourse" is deemed to have occurred once the sexual organ has entered in the slightest degree, regardless of whether that entry is accompanied by secretion of semen. [68]


Healthcare in Sharjah can be divided into two different sectors, Public and Private. Public hospitals in the emirates are administered by the government of Sharjah through the Ministry of Health. The emirate also has 9 public medical centers to provide primary health care services.


One Day International at Sharjah in 1998 (Australia v India)

The Sharjah Cricket Stadium has hosted almost 238 cricket One Day Internationals, more than any other ground, and 4 test cricket matches.[ needs update] Sharjah FC plays in the UAE Pro League. Sharjah also has a chess club. [69]

The Sharjah Cricket Stadium was one of the three stadiums to hold IPL 2020 matches.

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

Sharjah is twinned with:

Granada, Spain [70]


See also


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