UAE's third largest city
Signs of human settlement in Sharjah, meaning 'rising sun', date back more than 5,000 years, with one of the earliest surviving mentions appearing as early as the 2nd century AD in a map drawn by the Greek geographer Ptolemy, which shows the settlement then known as Sarcoa, where modern day Sharjah can now be found. In 1490 AD, Sharjah was also mentioned in the personal accounts of the famous Arab navigator, Ahmad Ibn Majid, as he navigated the Gulf's waters.
Historically, Sharjah was one of the wealthiest towns in the region. It was the most important port on the lower Arabian Gulf from the time of the early trading with the East into the first half of the 19th century. Alongside fishing and trading, the lion's share of the city's wealth rested on its pearling industry, which lasted into the late 1940s. The first international airport on this coast was also established in Sharjah in 1932, predating the formation of the Federation of the UAE by nearly four decades.
Since the discovery of oil in 1972, the settlement of Sharjah has developed from small palm-frond 'arish' houses hugging the creeks, to a contemporary city offering world-class infrastructure and a myriad of tourism attractions. Modern development took off in the early 1970's resulting in the rapid expansion of the town and Emirate as a whole.