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Mleiha Archaeological Centre: Gem of Sharjah

Introduction Of Mleiha

Sharjah, celebrated as the artistic capital of the United Arab Emirates, harbors a lesser-known yet profoundly significant historical treasure: the Mleiha Archaeological Centre. This site, rich with prehistoric artifacts, offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of early humans who once roamed this region. The Centre provides an unparalleled window into the Neolithic period, dating back approximately 130,000 years, long before the arid deserts took hold.


Location and Significance of Mleiha

Mleiha is located in the emirate of Sharjah, UAE. This archaeological site has revealed extensive evidence of early human activity, suggesting that ancient populations migrated through this area from Africa on their way to other parts of the world. The artifacts uncovered here, including stone tools and pottery, indicate a thriving community that adapted to a range of environmental conditions, from lush landscapes to the harsh desert.

Archaeological Discoveries

Neolithic to Bronze Age

At Mleiha, the artifacts span several key historical periods. Neolithic remains indicate early human settlements that thrived in a hospitable environment, markedly different from today’s desert. This evidence includes tools and pottery dating back to between 4000 and 8000 BCE, reflecting a society that was beginning to settle and develop agriculture.

Tombs and Burial Sites

One of the most striking features of Mleiha is its array of tombs, particularly from the Bronze Age. These tombs, some with multiple chambers, likely housed the remains of family groups. Within these graves, archaeologists have discovered painted pottery, soft stone vessels, jewelry made of carnelian, and bones, all of which offer insights into the social and economic conditions of the time.

Iron Age Decline

Following the Bronze Age, the area appears to have experienced a decline during the Iron Age. This downturn may have been due to significant environmental changes, impacting the region’s ability to support large human populations.

Visiting the Mleiha Archaeological Centre

How to Reach

The Mleiha Archaeological Centre is approximately 65 kilometers from Sharjah, making it a convenient day trip. The Centre is open from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM on weekdays and extends its hours to 9:00 PM on weekends (Thursday and Friday). Tours often include transportation from Dubai and Sharjah, enhancing accessibility for visitors.

Facilities and Activities

The Centre offers a range of facilities and activities to enhance the visitor experience:

  • Diner and Gift Store: Visitors can enjoy meals and purchase souvenirs at the onsite diner and gift store.
  • Sand Activities: Engage in thrilling activities such as dune bashing, available as part of the desert safari experiences in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, or Dubai.
  • Guided Tours: Explore the archaeological site with expert guides who provide detailed insights into the historical context of the findings.
  • Stargazing and Camping: For those looking to extend their visit, the Centre offers stargazing and camping experiences, allowing guests to enjoy the desert landscape both day and night.

Key Exhibits

Coloured Pottery and Stone Tools

The Centre houses an impressive collection of colored pottery and stone tools. These artifacts draw connections to other ancient civilizations, suggesting possible trade relationships, such as with the Indus Valley Civilization.

Horse and Camel Burials

A notable exhibit features the burial of a horse and camel under a glass floor, illustrating the ancient practice of burying animals with their owners. These animals, often brought from outside the region, highlight the extensive trade and cultural exchanges of the time.

Mleiha Fort and Camel Rock

Visitors can also explore the nearby Mleiha Fort, dating back to 300-0 BCE, and Camel Rock, a natural formation offering stunning views of the surrounding desert. These sites provide further context to the historical and cultural significance of Mleiha.

Fossil Rocks and Stone Age Caves

Fossil Rocks, located near Camel Rock, present an opportunity to explore ancient marine fossils embedded in the desert landscape. The Stone Age caves, accessible via guided tours, offer a glimpse into prehistoric human habitation.

Adventure Activities

For the adventurous, Mleiha offers a range of activities:

  • Dune Bashing: Experience the thrill of driving over the towering dunes in a 4×4 vehicle.
  • Horse Riding: Explore the desert on horseback, with options for all skill levels.
  • Paramotoring and Paragliding: Get a bird’s eye view of the stunning desert landscapes.
  • Star Gazing and Camping: Enjoy a night under the stars with a camping package that includes dinner and breakfast.


The Mleiha Archaeological Centre is not just a site of historical significance but a vibrant destination that bridges the past and present. It offers a deep dive into the prehistoric era of the Arabian Peninsula, complemented by modern amenities and adventurous activities. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply curious about the ancient world, Mleiha provides a unique and enriching experience that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Sharjah and the broader region.


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