Dr Sheikh Sultan
His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah Image Credit: Shutterstock

It is 50 years since His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi became Ruler of Sharjah, the cultural capital of the Arab world, and a pillar of the UAE union since its inception in 1971.

From the day he became Ruler of Sharjah on January 24, 1972, following the death of his brother Shaikh Khalid, until today, Sheikh Sultan has devoted considerable effort and resources to the cultural and social development of the emirate.

The march of progress and development continues unabated. Sharjah has become a byword for community and cultural interface of the nation. Under Sheikh Sultan’s rule, Unesco declared Sharjah “Cultural Capital of the Arab world” in 1998.

The UN made the emirate the “World Book Capital” in 2019. Sharjah also has the distinction of being designated as the Islamic Culture capital in 2014 and capital of Arab tourism in 2019.

None of this could have been achieved without the vision and determined efforts of Sheikh Sultan.

Dr Sheikh Sultan
On 18th January 1982, Dr Sultan launched the Sharjah International Book Fair at Expo Centre Sharjah Image Credit: Twitter

Patron of arts

Known throughout the region as a patron of arts and culture, he has written a number of books and scholarly texts as well as plays that have been translated in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Urdu, Persian among other languages.

In a region rife with conflict, the UAE stands out as a place that promotes intercultural interactions and dialogues among the peoples of the world. Throughout his five decades as a Ruler, Sheikh Sultan has ensured that this ‘bridging the minds and souls’ of the people became easier.

With an impressive collection of museums, some of them dedicated to Islamic civilisation, archaeology, and the arts, Sharjah has become a cultural and tourist destination in its own right. However, that alone is not Sheikh Sultan’s legacy.

People’s development

The policies he sought to implement in Sharjah have always focussed on the development of the most precious wealth of any nation — its people.

Creating jobs, regularly raising salaries of employees and retirees, social welfare schemes, pro-family policies, world-class higher education institutions, have always been top priorities in Sharjah.

The human being has always been the cornerstone of Sultan’s project in Sharjah, in addition of course to his tireless humanitarian work.

The development of Sharjah — from Al Majaz Waterfront to Khor Fakkan — has been in sync with the vision, identity and values stemming from Islamic teachings and Emirati heritage.

Thanks to Sheikh Sultan’s relentless drive to establish municipal councils in the cities and towns of Sharjah, the emirate has retained its historic charm and cultural identity in the 21st century.