The historic Sharjah Fort, which has been standing tall for over two centuries, is a testament to the resilience and heritage of the Emirati community. Built in 1823, the fort, so steeped in history, is celebrating its 200th year with a series of events.
The landmark will come alive with history as part of the UAE National Day festivities, with special tours and events, offering an opportunity for the community to reflect on its rich heritage and the stories that the fort holds within its walls.
Entry to the Sharjah Fort on December 1 and 2 will be free. Various cultural and entertainment programmes will promote a deeper understanding of Sharjah's modern history, the ruling family, daily life in the emirate 200 years ago and the fort’s rich history and restoration leading to its official opening in 2015.
Array of artifacts
The fort houses a wide array of artifacts that serve as repositories for both historical and cultural items, safeguarding the heritage of the times.
A ‘dancing cannon’ or Al Raggas cannon, is one of the largest authentic cannons and is located in the fort’s yard. It dates back to around 1811. This legendary cannon is the symbol of pride and the military powers of Al Qawasim. The city used to win every battle in which Al Raggas cannon was used.
A pearl magnifier kept at Sharjah Fort was used to ensure the purity of pearls and their values. Made of copper alloy with a small sphere top handle, the magnifier was always kept in a sheep-skin pouch to preserve it from cracks
The royal bed displayed in the Sheikh’s room belongs to Sheikha Mahra Mohammed Khalifa Al Qasimi (1900-1987). It was gifted to the Sharjah Fort Museum by Sheikha Meera Ahmed Rashed Al Mualla, the mother of Sheikha Jawaher, who is the wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
It is high off the floor and consists of a four-step staircase. The top of the staircase features a small, closed-door decorated with skillfully carved motifs and designs.
Qawasim currency or coins was issued by Marduf Al Qawasim in the early 1830s. The copper coins were circulated within the Qawasim territories of Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Kalba, Khor Fakkan, and Dibba.
The 1820 treaty was signed by the British had the Qawasim and other Arab leaders. This treaty became the basis of all British relations with the region's Arab rulers. A copy of the treaty is on display in this gallery. The treaty generally benefited the British and placed restrictions on the Qawasim and other Arabs. It destroyed the Qawasim's trade and maritime influence and led to conflicts that resulted in their ships and homes being razed. The 1820 treaty gave the British significant political power in the region, which lasted well over a century.
The Quran stand displayed in the Qawasim Hall dates back to Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi's rule (1866-1868). It is made of wood and features Arabic inscriptions carved on both sides. One side reads: “Owned by Khalid bin Sultan Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, dated 9 Muharram 1257”, which is the Hijri date (equivalent to 1841 AD). The other side is engraved with a verse of the Holy Quran: “Victory from Allah and a near conquest.”
The passport of Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr II, who was the ruler of a Trucial State from 1924 to 1951, now the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A lesson in history
A combination of soft light brown plaster and coral stones abundant in the Arabian Gulf was used to construct the fort.
Teak wood was used for its doors, and the ceiling showcased a remarkable geometric pattern, crafted from palm fronds and columns made from mangrove trees.
Throughout its history, the fort faced many challenges. In 1969, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, was in Egypt when he came to know about its impending demolition.
This news prompted his swift return to Sharjah to salvage the fort's remains, which were just a tower and two damaged walls.
Upon completion of restoration, the fort became a museum chronicling Sharjah's rich history.
The fort features two levels, a spacious central courtyard, and three defensive towers named Al-Mahlousa, Al-Kabis, and Musharraf Square. It also includes a primary balcony that houses the repentance wood previously used for punishments.
The ground floor has been transformed into a resting area and comprises the arrest room, Mahloussa prison, armoury, and Al Hisn gallery, which details the building's history and restoration phases.
Additionally, there’s the Madbasa Gallery where visitors can learn about the process of extracting date juice (commonly known as molasses) and the Al-Qawasim gallery, providing insights into the history of Al-Qawasim and their interactions with regional and foreign entities.
The upper-level houses Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr II Gallery, the Al-Kabis Tower, the weapons gallery, the Sheikh's room, Al Ghurfa (a room dedicated for meeting esteemed guests), the balcony, and the Majlis dedicated to showcasing historical documents and photographs.
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