Sharjah is the only emirate in the UAE that stretches along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. Thanks to the 7th-century discovery of unusually pale pink pearls in the seas off the coast of Sharjah, the emerite grew wealthy – at least until the Japanese found a way to mass-produce cultured pearls and put it out of business in the 1930s. Pearl divers once braved shark and jellyfish in hopes of surfacing with oysters.
In the Heritage area of Sharjah city, visitors can tour two houses of former pearl merchants and traders, the Bait Khalid bin Ibrahim and Bait Al Naboodah, which display the wealth accumulated by such hazards and showcase traditional Gulf architecture. For further insights into the local history and geology, visit the city’s Archaeology Museum and its Maritime Museum, which displays genuine Arabian pearls.