Sharjah ... History & Civilization
Sharjah’s history goes back almost 6,000 years when it was called as Sarcoa. The population of the city was really small at that time and the economic activities of the people included trade, farming, hunting, fishing and peal diving. Several early settlements were based around the ‘Falaj’, which was a man-made underground water course.
In 1507, the Portuguese took command of the East Coast in order to control the spice trade. To ensure security from any outside attacks, they built several forts at Khor Fakkan, Kalba and Dibba. The Portuguese ruled for almost a century till the Dutch over-powered them and gained supremacy over the region for the spice trade. The British came to this region in the 17th century. They started trading with the Qawassims, the present rulers of Sharjah.
In the 18th century, the ruling Qawassim tribe became the mighty seafarers who created an important maritime power in the southern Gulf. Their strongholds were based in Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah. Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr bin Rashid Al Qasimi, the patriarch of today's rulers became the Sheikh of Sharjah in 1804 and governed for over 50 years.
Whilst the Emirate prospered from trade and pearling, Sharjah had many 'firsts' to its credit during these years of development. Between 1823 and 1954, Sharjah was the base for Britain's only political representative on the Trucial Coast. In 1932, a staging post was established by the British Government in Sharjah, for the Imperial Airways flights en route from England to India. This was the first airport in the Emirates and is still in use today, as a main road, not a runway. At the time of its establishment, the airport was located two miles across the desert from the town. All provisions for the air traveler were brought by donkey including the in-flight catering and water from wells. Traders traveled from the town by camel to do business with the foreigners.
The Sheikh's Fort (Al Hisn) was located where Sharjah's modern banking center (Al Boorj Avenue) now stands and Al Arouba Street was used for horse racing. In 1953, the first properly organized school in the UAE was established in Sharjah attracting students throughout the country. The importance of the airport helped cushion the collapse of the pearl trade in the 1930's.
In 1972, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi succeeded as the ruler of Sharjah. In the same year, oil was found 80 km offshore in the Mubarak oilfield, which is close to Abu Mousa Island. The production of oil began only after two years and produces almost 35,000 barrels at its peak. A few years later, a gas condensate was discovered and drilling began in 1990.