HERITAGE HOUSES

Sharjah 2015 | TOURISM & CULTURE | PHOTO ESSAY: SHARJAH’S MUSEUMS

Known as the most cultural of the seven Emirates, Sharjah boasts a double-digit number of museums that preserve and showcase the Emirate's local heritage and culture.

While its economy is growing rapidly and the Emirate is opening its doors to progress and innovation, HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah is keen to retain local traditions and instill a love for Sharjah's heritage and arts in his people. He sees these as instruments for social change, and believes that all of Sharjah's citizens should be exposed to culture. A huge advocate of education as another pillar of human development, His Highness sees a pivotal role for Sharjah's museums in providing cultural outlets and educating people on a range of subjects.

As a result, Sharjah's vibrant culture and arts scene is arguably one of the Emirate's strongest assets, and one can spend days to discover all that it has to offer in this regard. From the much-praised and internationally renowned Sharjah Arts Museums to the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah has a plethora of museums on offer for all kinds of visitors.

The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, which opened its doors in 2008, offers a greater insight into Islam and exhibits thousands of important Islamic artifacts that are testament to the timeless achievements of Islamic civilization. The ground floor allows visitors to develop a deeper understanding of the different aspects of Islam, while also highlighting achievements by Islamic scientists, primarily in the fields of mathematics and astronomy. The upper floor of the museum holds artifacts from over 1,400 years of Islamic history.
The Sharjah Heritage Museum, which is dedicated to highlighting Sharjah's heritage and local culture, was renovated and re-opened in 2012. Its five rooms showcase how Sharjah's people used to live in the Emirate's diverse ecological landscape, and sheds light on the Emirate's religious values and birth and burial rituals, as well as holiday celebrations, marriage ceremonies, and folk medicine.

Providing further insight into local history is the Sharjah Archaeology Museum, which gives visitors the chance to learn about the region's civilizations from the Stone Age until the present day. Walk through re-created tombs and houses, and watch highlights from the collection such as a ceramic dome from the Iron Age and a golden bridle that dates back to 150 BC.

Sharjah's rich marine heritage is displayed in the Sharjah Maritime Museum. As the only Emirate with territory on both coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, marine life is a major part of Sharjah's heritage, as it played a key role in the establishment and development of its cities. Re-opened in 2009, this museum displays the traditional dhows, as well as fishing and pearl diving equipment.

With one of the largest art exhibitions in the region, the Sharjah Art Museum lets visitors explore the history of the region through fascinating masterpieces by local painters and Arab artists. One of the landmarks of Sharjah's culture sector, this museum has two gallery floors with a large collection of modern and contemporary art, and is host to a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. His Highness the Ruler has donated a number of artworks from his private collection to the museum.

Sharjah is home to a variety of other museums, with new projects currently in the pipeline, of which the Science Museum is the most ambitious. Promising to become an educational venue that will cover different aspects of science, this museum aims to showcase the role of Islamic science within universal science. The Sharjah Museums Department is working to make this into a full-fledged family destination, rather than just a museum, which is very much in line with Sharjah's position as a family destination where education and culture play a key role in developing society.