Sharjah (Arabic: الشارقة) (pronounced /'ʃɑɹdʒə/ in English) is the third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and is the seat of government of the emirate of Sharjah. The city covers an approximate area of 235 km² and has a population of over 800,000 (2008).
Sharjah is the third largest city (after Dubai and Abu Dhabi) in the United Arab Emirates. The palace of the ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah (Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi) is located about southeast of the city.
The city of Sharjah overlooks the Persian Gulf and, has a population of over 800,000 (2008). It contains the main administrative and commercial centers together with an array of cultural and traditional projects, including several museums covering areas such as archaeology,natural history,science, arts, heritage, islamic art and culture. 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 with its rich legacy of arts, heritage and culture. Under the leadership and patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Member of the Supreme Council, Sharjah has preserved its natural and cultural heritage across the Emirate in the form of historic buildings, museums and nature reserves. /Sharjah Museums Department 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. Links with the outside world are provided by Sharjah International Airport and Port Khalid.
Historically, Sharjah was one of the wealthiest towns in this region with a settlement in existence for over 5000 years. In the early 18th century, the Qawasim clan (Huwayla tribe) established itself in Sharjah, c.1727 declaring Sharjah independent. 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). On 2 December 1971, Sheikh Khalid III joined the United Arab Emirates.
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.
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.