Sharjah is one of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates on the northern edge of the country. Located along the northern part of the Persian Gulf , Sharjah is the third largest and the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, forming a major part of the metropolitan area. Sharjah covers an area of 2,600 km² which equals 3.3 per cent of United Arab Emirates total area excluding the islands and has a population of over 10,000. Sharjah is the only emirate to have land on both the Persian Gulf and on the Gulf of Oman. Sharjah is around 170 km away from the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi. Sharjah owns three enclaves on the east coast which borders the Gulf of Oman which are Kalba, Dibba Al-Hisn and Khor Fakkan, providing Sharjah with a major east coast port. Sharjah also has some oasis areas like Dhaid region which is one of the most fertile land in Sharjah where a wide range of fruits and vegetables are cultivated.
Human settlement in Sharjah has existed for more than 5,000 years. Sharjah is historically known as one of the most wealthiest towns in the region. Sharjah was joined to the United Arab Emirates on 2nd December 1971 by Sheikh Khalid III bin Muhammad Al Qasimi ( Sheikh Khalid III ). Sheikh Khalid III bin Muhammad Al Qasimi was killed by the former ruler Sheikh Saqr. But Sheikh was still unable to establish power due to which Sheikh Khalid III bin Muhannad Al Qasimi’s brother Sultan bin Muhamed Al-Qasimi, an author and historian came to power.
INDUSTRIAL FACE OF EMIRATES
Sharjah is popularly known as “ The Industrial face of the Emirates “.Sharjah alone contributes 7.4 per cent of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates. A Commerce and Tourism Development Authority was established in 1996, responsible for creating policies for local and international exhibitions and marketing, thus promoting commercial and tourism activities in the emirate and thereby attracting foreign investments and tourists. This formed the integral part of Sharjah’s wide popularity as “ The Industrial face of the Emirates “ all over the world. Further an independent government body, The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority also called as “ Shurooq “ was established in 2009 to monitor and oversee the social, cultural, environmental and economic development of the emirate in line with its Islamic identity. This body mainly focuses on three areas for the emirates Investment & Development, asset and property management.
CULTURE AND POLICIES
Sharjah like other emirates is famous for its hard and fast rules, Sharjah is the only emirate where alcohol is completely banned. Sharjah’s government body also maintains strict decency laws like conservative dress codes for both men and women. According to the booklet “ A man and a woman who are not in a legally acceptable relationship should not be alone in public places at suspicious times or circumstance “ i.e. Mixing between unmarried men and women is illegal. Sharjah’s cultural policy is one of the most developed cultural policies in the emirates world for its investment in art and culture. Sharjah’s cultural programming is up to the mark when compared to other well established art centers situated in the west. Sharjah has 17 well established museums. Sharjah was also proclaimed as the Capital of Islamic culture as a token of appreciation of its ruler Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimis’s love for culture. Sharjah is also famous for its highly regarded cultural project “ Culture without border ” wherein books were distributed promoting the importance of cultural awareness and development among families and children. Sharjah has developed arts and heritage area and another area for leisure and entertainment, “ The Al Qasba ” area, which locates the Maraya Art center and the Barjeel foundation.
Sharjah has a reputation in cultural policies when compared to Abhu Dhabi’s obsession in building mega structures and Dubai fuelling the art market. Sharjah is a busy city with commuter traffic at times resulting in rush hour traffic jams. Cost of living is much cheaper in Sharjah when compared to Dubai due to which Expatriates generally live in Sharjah and work in Dubai, as Dubai offers better job opportunities. Subsequently this resulted in part of Dubai’s construction boom webbing over to Sharjah due to which numerous high rises were constructed but still missing the royal style and neat arrangement of Dubai’s construction procedure. To keep in pace with Dubai’s development nowadays, the chord of adjacent cities of Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman is growing tremendously into one metropolis. There were initial plans to bond Sharjah with Dubai’s metro system, but they were suspended but still there is a hope for the same to be revived. Sharjah was successful in nurturing what has been left of the past by restoring several houses alongside some of Sharjah’s main museums also called as “ The Heritage Area “ , Partly as a compensation for its somewhat disorganized leap.
Almost all emirates including Dubai, is heavily dependent on tourism dollars and is relatively liberal when compared to Sharjah with its vast beaches, beachfront hotels and nightclub life. But Sharjah is considerably more conservative still maintaining its social and cultural purity. Sharjah is being conceived as a modern industrial city of its own kind. This has lead to the dramatic influx of industrial enterprises into Sharjah providing world class infrastructure and support in an easily accessible location. Emirates Industrial City is considered as an additional achievement of Sharjah to become the ideal industrial hub in the United Arab Emirates.