As part of the on-going work on the "Heart of Sharjah" project, the largest heritage project in the UAE and Gulf region, Bank Street - the first modern commercial street in Sharjah constructed in the late 1970s - has been partially closed as of October 28.
Work on the first phase of this landmark project, being undertaken by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) in cooperation with the Sharjah Department of Public Works and a number government bodies and departments in the Emirate, is well on track and construction is now commencing to complete the project south to Al Hisn (Bank Street) and beyond.
One of the prime focuses of the work to be done in this area is a full archaeological excavation, being led by Prof Tatsuo Sasaki, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Archaeology, University of Kanazawa, Japan. The excavation is being coordinated between Shurooq, the Sharjah Ruler's Office, the Directorate of Heritage, and the Directorate of Antiquities and was commissioned after a non-intrusive ground radar survey of the area showed that extensive remains of the historic core of the city, including its souq lay underneath the tarmac of Bank Street.
Commenting on the importance of this part of the project Peter Jackson, Architectural Advisor in the Ruler's Office, said: "While extensive archaeological excavation and research has taken place throughout the emirate of Sharjah, as well as in the suburbs of the city, none has so far been conducted within the historic core of the city. It is believed that the town dates back at least to the late 16th century, and the object of the work to be carried out between 1st November and May 2013 will be to identify the foundations from earlier periods in the town's history in an attempt to accurately date Sharjah's urban history in this location, as well as to ascertain how it has evolved over the centuries."
Yousif Al Mutawa, Heart of Sharjah Destination Manager, said: "Our exploration of this previously largely forgotten part of Sharjah's history comes under the directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, as well as our continued commitment to preserving and protecting the heritage of Sharjah. We are extremely pleased with the progress of the project, and looking forward to starting this significant segment of work on the development. The Heart of Sharjah is without a doubt one of the most ambitious and visionary heritage projects to have ever been attempted in the region and it is enormously gratifying to see our vision steadily taking shape."
Al Mutawa went on to comment that Sharjah was already well known and respected for its many invaluable contributions to culture and heritage in the international arena. And through this project Sharjah was setting new benchmarks in the fields of archaeology and historical preservation, once again reaffirming Sharjah's leading cultural role in the region and the world.
The Heart of Sharjah, a five-phase, 15-year historical restoration project aims to restore and revamp the traditional heritage areas of Sharjah to create a tourist and trade destination with contemporary artistic touches, yet retain the feel of the 1950s, and reflect what Sharjah was like over half a century ago.
Scheduled for completion in 2025 and situated just few minutes from the city's corniche and 10 minutes from the Sharjah International Airport, The Heart of Sharjah will feature diverse commercial, cultural and residential projects, including a boutique hotel, restaurants, retail shops, art galleries, traditional and contemporary markets, archaeological sites, museums, play areas, and commercial offices.