The history of the Arabian Gulf from its very first inhabitants is being documented by a major archaeological and eco-tourism project in Sharjah.
It is estimated that the site has been inhabited for around 130,000 years – around the time when the first humans migrated to the area from Africa.
The Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism project, developed by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), explores caves cut into mountains (pictured) which formed the first dwelling places before farms and homes were constructed.
Its visitor centre reflects the natural landscapes of the region which is also rich in artefacts and other remnants of bygone civilisations. It includes the Umm Al Nar Tomb, which is accessible to all visitors
Mahmoud Rashid Deemas, project manager said: “The Mleiha Archaeological Centre is the first structure since our development phase of the Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism project.
“Through this visitor centre, we wanted to send an educational and inspirational message to all visitors even before walking into it, and that is our commitment to building unique structures that are a part of Mleiha’s remarkable nature and wonderful landscapes.”
The centre includes the Umm Al Nar Tomb (Arabic for “Mother of fire”), which is accessible to all visitors and named after a culture which dates from the Bronze Age and extended across the northern UAE and Oman.
Deemas highlighted the centre’s design: “Our innovation process was inspired by the tiniest details of the area’s history. These included the use of copper materials on the centre’s walls echoing the memories and evidences of ancient copper workshops which existed in the area thousands of years ago.”
Palm and ghaf trees have also been planted in order to replicate the conditions which existed up to 3,000 years ago when the civilisation is believed to have started.