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The first great emirate of the area, Sharjah, unlike many others, can count on a history of wealth and power since the 1700s, frightening even the British.
Sharjah, the first Emirati power
Like most of the countries of this territory, the emirate of Sharjah also has a very ancient history and which has its origins as far back as 3000 BC, the year in which the area was inhabited for the first time. In a very similar way to Fujairah and Abu Dhabi, the economy of the area rested for a long time on fishing and farming which, favored by its incredible position, will favor its constant growth, which will lead Sharjah to emerge as the most important city in the area.
Its proximity to the islands of the Persian Gulf will then favor its commercial aspect, making it a commercial dock for anyone wishing to trade between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, thus favoring the naval and mercantile rise. This will facilitate the rise of the al Qasimi, a dynasty that will form its fortunes and misfortunes right on the water.
Pirates or businessmen?
The latter, led by their forefather, Rashid bin Matar, will form the first noteworthy emirate in the area, also going to conquer some Persian islands and imposing their control on all that stretch of sea, attracting the ire of their neighbors. As the Arabs pointed more and more to the coasts of present-day Iran, the same thing did the Persians who, around the middle of the 18th century, tried to conquer Oman. This created not a few political tensions in the area, which prompted the al Qasimi to arm themselves to defend their domains.
In 1777, however, the al Qasimi had the misfortune of attacking an English ship which, apparently, was traveling under banners very similar to those of Oman. This will cause an unprecedented political disaster which will provide the British with the pretext for military intervention in the area in order to ensure the stability of their trade. The excuse was that of piracy but, according to the Emiratis, the latter was only a way to secure the precious trade between the two shores of the sea, at that time in Arab hands. From that moment on, however, the fate of the area changed forever, leading first to an Anglo-Saxon attack on Ras al Khaimah (another domain of the a Qasimi) and, in 1820, to the birth of the Truce States.
With the birth of the modern United Arab Emirates, Sharjah became, also thanks to its history, the real cultural center of the area, attracting artists and ad hoc associations, thus favoring a notable development in this direction. This is certainly also due to the current emir Sultan bin Muhammad al Qasimi, who has always been a great scholar of history, who has always encouraged initiatives aimed at preserving the region’s heritage, creating a rare and complicated balance between ancient and modern.
Under his command, Sharjah became the capital of Arab culture in 1998 and is still regarded today as a kind of open-air museum regarding life in the region. One of the most authentic and full of history places in the whole country.
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