Sharjah is the third largest emirate. Its population is 1,171, 097 as of 2012. In 2014, its GDP reached around AED 113.89 billion.
Sharjah is the third largest emirate in the UAE with an area of 2,590sq. km. It occupies 3.3 per cent of the total area of the UAE (not counting the islands). It is known for its picturesque landscapes and seascapes.
The emirate has many educational institutions, which ensure a continuous supply of fresh talent armed with the latest knowledge in engineering, science and technology and other skills that support economic growth.
Population of Sharjah is 1,171, 097 as of 2012 as per the estimation of Department of Statistics and Community Development.
According to Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, the estimated population of UAE nationals as of 2010 in the emirate of Sharjah was:
Location and geography
It is the only emirate that lies on both coasts; the Arabian Gulf in the west and the Gulf of Oman (Indian Ocean) in the east. The coastline on the Gulf extends about 20km. and within 80km. to the Gulf of Oman.
The emirate has large desert regions, with some agricultural areas. Its islands include Sir Bu Nuair and Abu Musa. Sharjah has plenty of beaches, marshes and acacia forests.
Sharjah is home to the largest number of natural reserves in the UAE.
Major cities of Sharjah
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.
The emirate 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.
Sharjah has three ports with a total area of 49,588,000sq. m. In addition, it has two free zones:
Expo Centre Sharjah is one of the most popular trade exhibition venues in the region which hosts various B2B and B2C events.
Arts and culture
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 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.
The ruling family
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.
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.
Places to visit:
Think of 'shopping in Sharjah' and the Central Souk springs to mind. Open since 1979, the legendary Central Souk is the most famous souk in Sharjah and is a must-see destination for all shoppers. Discover an extraordinary collection of handicrafts, brilliant in colour and magnetic in appeal.
Delve into a maze of more than 600 exciting and intriguing shops split between two levels with spacious corridors that take you from store to store, to uncover unusual treasures and traditional gift items, handmade goods and regional imports. You will find a mixture of shops selling gold, silver, authentic jewellery, precious stones, beautiful modern jewellery, to impressive collections of Oriental carpets and rugs, arts, crafts and attractive ornaments, cameras, models of traditional Arab dhows (sailing vessels) in silver; Indian, Pakistani, Indonesian and African hand-carved furniture and products, precious Arabic perfumes and cosmetics, textiles, beaded bags, exquisite Afghani embroideries, shawls in brilliant colours, embroidered Syrian table cloths, antiques and copper trays in all sizes, and much more.
The Central Souk has one of the best selections of oriental carpets in the UAE. Many outlets specialise in carpets, kilims, elegant silk carpets, carpetbags and wall hangings, which come from Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Kashmir, Pakistan and anywhere between Central Asia and China. Most of the carpet sellers are knowledgeable about their trade and they will order you a traditional cup of tea or coffee and happily unroll carpet after carpet until you find the one you want.
In between shopping and discovering, relax and enjoy a snack in the friendly cafés followed by a wander along the scenic Khaled Lagoon.
Souk Al Arsah
Step back in time and visit the peaceful air-conditioned alleyways of the covered market, probably the oldest market place in the UAE, designed with solid wooden doors, beautiful coral brick walls and hanging lanterns. The shopkeepers are friendly, helpful and more than happy to relate stories about their particular craft or business whilst sharing a glass of suleimani (spicy tea with a
delicious sweet flavour) or a mint tea. The souk features a number of small stores selling local, new and antique handicrafts,
wooden Arabic bridal and pearl chests, copper coffee pots, ethnic and hand-made jewellery, perfume bottles and incense, handmade woven garments, palm-leaf baskets, medicinal herbs, carpets, shawls and novelties.
Al Qasba is a unique waterfront destination centrally located in Sharjah city. With the Etisalat Eye of the Emirates observation wheel in the background, the lively banks of Al Qasba offer a range of trendy restaurants and cafés serving cuisines from around the world.
Welcoming families, business visitors and tourists alike, Al Qasba combines culture with entertainment and continuously strives to develop leisure activities that highlight Arabic and Islamic heritage.
Al Majaz waterfront
Featuring special attractions including landscaped gardens, cafes, shops, kiosks andthe 100-meter height and 200 meters wide Sharjah fountain, Al Majaz waterfront is an ideal venue for a relaxed breakfast, healthy lunch, dinner with the family, late night coffee, or a business meeting any time of day. The picture-perfect backdrop of the musical cybernetic Sharjah Fountain, a key feature of the project, makes dining at the Al Majaz Waterfront restaurants and cafes a sheer delight.
Al Noor Island
Sharjah’s newest leisure attraction has been designed and developed to inspire the senses with spacious landscaped areas, innovative architecture and multi-media experiences.
The 45,470 square meter Island located in Khalid Lagoon in Sharjah was provided with atmospheric lighting, the subtle lighting of island features with LEDs and other light installations, bring the island to life at night. A number of art installations from around the world provide further inspiration for visitors, including the ‘OVO’, ‘Torus’ and various light paintings visible after dark.
Al Noor Island’s new Butterfly House is expected to provide a big draw for residents and visitors to Sharjah. With ornamentally perforated shadow roof inspired by ornate Arab windows (mashrabiya), the aviary will house as many as 500 exotic butterflies native to a variety of countries. Butterfly species include the African Monarch (Danaus chrysippus), the Autumn Leaf (Doleschallia bisaltide) from India and the Common Rose swallow-tail butterfly (Pachliopta aristolochiae), which is found across South East Asia and is known for its bright colouration and unique pattern of its wings.
The Butterfly House will also have a gift shop and a modern café for visitors, with indoor and outdoor seating area. Nearby, visitors will find a Literature Pavilion, where they can relax, read, take in the beauty of nature around them. The island features a 3,500 meter long walkway which takes visitors through the miniature gardens to key facilities, whilst allowing them to take in the peaceful setting and view outdoor art attractions.