Sharjah (Arabic: الشارقة, , pronounced /'ʃɑɹdʒə/ in English) is one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The emirate covers 2,600 km² (1,003 mi²) and has a population of over 800,000 (2008). The emirate of Sharjah comprises the city of Sharjah (the seat of the emirate), and other minor towns and enclaves such as Kalba, Hisn Dibba and Khor Fakkan.
On 8 January 1820, Sheikh Sultan I signed the General Maritime Treaty with Britain, accepting a protectorate to keep the Ottoman Turks out. Like four of its neighbours, Ajman, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Qaiwain, its 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).
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. Many of these items feature subjects unrelated to the emirates whose names they bear, and therefore many popular catalogues do not list them.
The historically known rulers were:
Obeid and Hiba
Sharjah is the third largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, and is the only one to have land on both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Sharjah is ruled by Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Sheikh of Sharjah.
In addition Sharjah owns three enclaves on the east coast, bordering the Gulf of Oman. These are Kalba, Dibba al-Hisn, and Khor Fakkan, which provides Sharjah with a major east coast port. In the Persian Gulf, the island of Sir Abu Nuáir belongs to Sharjah. The emirate has a total area of 2,590 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 3.3 per cent of the UAE's total area, excluding the islands.
The city of Sharjah, which overlooks the Persian Gulf, has a population of 519,000 (2003 census estimate). It contains the main administrative and commercial centers together with an especially impressive array of cultural and traditional projects, including several museums. Distinctive landmarks are the two major covered souks, reflecting Islamic design; a number of recreational areas and public parks such as Al Jazeirah Fun Park and Al Buheirah Corniche. The city is also notable for its numerous elegant mosques. The Emirate of Sharjah is also known to be the Cultural Capital of the UAE. The Expo Centre of Sharjah is well known for the annual book fair that is famous all over the region. The Emir personally takes keen interest in this event which brings together hundreds of publishers from all over the world and thousands of titles. The Sharjah World Trade & Expo Centre was founded in 1976 by Frederick Pittera, a producer of International Fairs/Exhibitions as the first mixed use facility in the Arab World.
Links with the outside world are provided by Sharjah International Airport and Port Khalid.
Sharjah also encompasses some important oasis areas, the most famous of which is Dhaid where a wide range of vegetables and fruits is cultivated on its rich and fertile soil.
Sharjah is a sister city to Dubai and Ajmān (two fellow emirates) on both its borders. The three urban areas have now expanded to each others borders. Sharjah is about 170 kilometers away from the capital city Abu Dhabi.
Sharjah is the only Emirate in which the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol is banned. It also maintains the strictest decency laws in the UAE, introduced in 2001, with a conservative dress code required for both men and women. Mixing between unmarried men and women is illegal: "A man and a woman who are not in a legally acceptable relationship should not, according to the booklet, be alone in public places, or in suspicious times or circumstances.
There are several universities in Sharjah, including the University of Sharjah, the American University of Sharjah, Troy University - ITS Sharjah Campus, Skyline College Sharjah, Sharjah Men's College, and Sharjah Women's College.
Since 2003, the increasingly crowded cricket calendar has precluded the holding of any major international matches at Sharjah although the stadium has been the venue for certain other matches, such as the 2004 ICC Intercontinental Cup. The use of the venue has declined as the new 20,000 seat Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi has become the preferred venue for cricket in the UAE.
The Sharjah Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) has started the public transport system in Sharjah from May 23, 2008 with 11 buses running on the first route, Route 14 from Sharjah International Airport to Al-Sharq terminal. By November 2008, 142 buses are expected to operate on 18 routes
Metered Taxis are available in Sharjah for the intra-city as well as the inter-city travel.
Kalba is known for its back-waters and the surrounding mangrove forest.
It has only had three rulers: