In a momentous development, the Islamic World Heritage Committee of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) has added the Mleiha archaeological site, along with Al Dhaid Fort and Falaj, to the List of the Islamic World Heritage.
The Sharjah Archaeology Authority (SAA) played a pivotal role in achieving this esteemed recognition, completing the nomination dossier for the Mleiha archaeological site under the title "Mleiha: The Pre-Islamic Period in Southeast Arabia." The dossier showcased the historical and archaeological significance of Mleiha, accentuating its architectural elements uncovered during extensive excavations. Reports on the conservation efforts and monitoring systems for the archaeological site were also presented.
This recognition aligns with SAA's overarching strategy to safeguard the emirate's tangible cultural heritage and share it globally, with the aim of bolstering tourism to the inscribed properties. The inscription of Mleiha on the List underscores its cultural influence during the pre-Islamic period, dating from 300 BCE to 300 CE. Archaeological findings substantiate Mleiha's role as a vital hub in the caravan trade, linking the Indian Ocean coasts to the Mediterranean Sea across the Arabian Peninsula desert.
Decades of local and international collaboration have contributed to the understanding of Mleiha's historical significance. Commencing in the 1970s with local teams and the Iraqi mission, followed by French studies in the 1980s, and joint field studies with the Belgian team since 2009, Mleiha's archaeological treasures have been meticulously unearthed and documented.
The inclusion of Al Dhaid Fort and Falaj on the ISESCO Islamic World Heritage List is the result of concerted efforts between the Authority for Initiatives Implementation and Infrastructure Development "Mubadara" and the Sharjah Archaeology Authority. Mubadara, under the visionary guidance of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, played a crucial role in the restoration of Fort Al Dhaid and Al Falaj.
The inscription of Al Dhaid Fort and Falaj underscores the archaeological and economic importance of the Aflaj irrigation system to the city of Al Dhaid. Falaj stands as a testament to ancient engineering techniques that ensured sustainability and fairness in the community's utilization of water resources.
These water resources historically served the caravans passing through Al Dhaid due to its strategic location and the presence of defensive elements like Al Dhaid Fort, contributing to the city's ancient history, the security of its residents, and the routes of commercial caravans.
The addition of Mleiha, Al Dhaid Fort, and Falaj to the Islamic World Heritage List elevates Sharjah's standing as a guardian of cultural and historical treasures. This prestigious international designation reflects the emirate's commitment to preserving its heritage for future generations and adds to the global appreciation of the rich tapestry of Sharjah's history and culture. With three sites now listed, Sharjah continues to be a beacon of cultural significance on the world stage.