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Emirates TravelUnited Arab Emirates / Sharjah
 

Sharjah

The city of Sharjah is the third largest by population in the United Arab Emirates
The city of Sharjah is the third largest by population in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are first and second in terms of population. Sharjah is also the government seat of the emirate of Sharjah, and has a population of over 800,000. The ruler of the emirate, Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, lives about 20 km to the southeast of the city.

The emirate of Sharjah is the only one of the seven emirates to have land on both the Arabian coast and the Gulf of Oman. The emirate covers about 2,600 square kilometers. Sharjah is bordered on the south and west by Saudi Arabia. On the east, it is bordered by the Sultanate of Oman. Interior parts of Sharjah contain salt flats, gravel plains, and huge areas of desert.

{IMAGE1}Sharjah also contains the Rub Al Khali, or “Empty Quarter” in the southwest, which has sand dunes as high as 300 meters. Sharjah also has two islands off the eastern coast, Abu Mousa and Sir Abu Nu’air. The eastern coast features golden beaches, and steep rocks tumbling all the way to the water. And despite the vast geographic diversity all around, the city Sharjah is only a 15 minute drive to Dubai.

The climate in Sharjah ranges from warm to hot, with the most pleasant weather from November to April. During this time, daytime temperatures range from 18 to 30 degrees Celsius, or 64 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Any rain that falls generally does so in January, February, and March. From May to September, the weather turns very hot, with midday temperatures sometimes reaching 45 degrees Celsius, or 113 degrees Fahrenheit. The emirate also has high humidity, which drives many people to cooler climates during the hot summer months.

{IMAGE2}The economy of the emirate of Sharjah centers around industry, though lifestyle and tourism sectors are growing, as is international trade. The gross domestic product of the emirate grew 19% during 2006. While the worldwide economic slump has had an effect, Sharjah is uniquely poised among the emirates to weather a downturn due to strong and diverse sectors of the economy.

Beginning in 1974, Sharjah began petroleum production, with gas production following in 1982. Sharjah is home of 5% of the UAE’s gas reserves. The most important reserves are located offshore, though there are reserves of gas in the interior desert area of Sharjah. Sharjah uses its gas reserves to fuel power generation plants by way of a gas grid, the first of its kind.

{IMAGE3}Chemical manufacture is a major sector of Sharjah’s industrial economy, with major facilities for production of plastic and fiberglass. There are over 85 plastic producers in Sharjah, and 38 fiberglass manufacturers. Companies in this sector of the economy produce crude plastic, industrial pipes, and high and low density polyethylene. Sharjah is the manufacturing hub of the UAE, representing 48% of the UAE’s total industrial production.

The Hamriyah Free Zone provides incentives for businesses with a tax free environment and exemptions from commercial levies. A deep water port and an inner harbor, along with pre-built warehouses and factories all stand ready for international investors. Sharjah already has trade relations with 126 countries. With customs duties as low as 4% on many imported goods, and customs duties of 1% for food imports and imports for industrial production sectors, Sharjah provides very competitive incentives for international businesses. Bars of pure gold are also exempt from duties in Sharjah.

{IMAGE4}But life in Sharjah is not all business. Bordered by the cities of Dubai and Ajman, the city of Sharjah has attracted tourism and all the construction and infrastructure that a thriving tourist hub needs. That Sharjah is considered the cultural capital of the UAE doesn’t hurt. In 1998, UNESCO named Sharjah as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World. Sharjah has more than 20 museums and hosts numerous cultural festivals and fairs.

The city also has traditional markets, or souks, modern shopping malls, and heritage sites, and is notable for its mosques. Cricket is a popular sport in Sharjah, as are camel racing, falconry, and football.

{IMAGE5}Sharjah is the home to the American University of Sharjah, or AUS, which was founded in 1997 by His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, the ruler of Sharjah. Accredited in the United States as well as the UAE, the American University of Sharjah offers 21 different bachelor’s degrees and 13 master’s degrees through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, School of Business and Management, and School of Architecture and design. AUS also has numerous sports teams for males and females, student clubs, and nearly 300 students who work on campus.

{IMAGE6}The region features broad geographic diversity and a tradition of culture and the arts. With the location of the city close to both Dubai and Ajman, and with generous business incentives, Sharjah is ready to grow and willing to invest in international businesses with similar goals.

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