c.125,000 BCE

The first signs of human life in the UAE were found at a site on Jebel Faya, south east of Sharjah city. At the time of excavation in 2011, the site was believed to be the world’s oldest human settlement outside Africa.


c.1720

The Qawasim tribe, whose descendants now rule both Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, start to become a dominant force in the region.


1803

Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi becomes Ruler of Sharjah and governs for over half a century.


1820

Al Hisn Sharjah (Sharjah Fort) is built by Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi. The two-storey fortress was made out of rock, coral and adobe, and stood as a focal point of the city’s defence strategy for a century and a half. Partly demolished in 1970, it has since been fully restored.


1932

Sharjah launches the first airport in the GCC at Al Mahatta. There were originally two weekly flights to Al Mahatta served by Imperial Airways. Last year, Sharjah International Airport – which was built a few kilometres inland from Al Mahatta - welcomed more than 12 million people to the Emirate.


1972

HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi becomes Ruler of Sharjah. His succession came less than a year after the UAE declared independence from the UK. In the same year, oil was discovered in the Mubarak oilfield situated 80 kilometres off the Sharjah coast.


1982

The Sharjah International Book Fair is held for the first time. It is one of the most popular events in the city’s calendar, with this year’s edition set to draw in nearly 2,000 exhibitors and an estimated 2.4 million visitors.


1993

The date of the first Sharjah Biennial. This large contemporary art exhibition was previously organised by Sharjah Department of Culture and Information until HH Sheikha Hoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi reoriented the programme in 2003.


1997

University City is founded. This huge campus development in Muwaileh houses American University of Sharjah (which was founded in the same year), University of Sharjah and the Higher Colleges of Technology alongside a number of other universities, colleges and teaching institutions.


1998

Sharjah is named ‘The Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ by UNESCO. During HH Sheikh Dr Sultan’s reign, the Emirate has become a centre of education, as well as hosting museums, art galleries and other cultural attractions.


2008

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation opens as a major cultural landmark of the region. It had originally served as a traditional souq.


2014

Sharjah is named the Capital of Islamic Culture by ISESCO.


2019

This year, Sharjah has been named ‘World Book Capital’ for its efforts at promoting reading and literacy.

Thirteen historical events that helped shape Sharjah

17 December 2019

From one of the planet’s most ancient settlements to World Book Capital for 2019, the Emirate’s back story is a tale of regional politics, economic growth and a love for all things cultural.