Organized by Sharjah Archaeology Authority

Tour of 93-million-year-oldFaya Palaeolandscape undertaken by Bodour Al Qasimi and UAE Minister of Culture Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi in support of UNESCO World Heritage Nomination

The site in Sharjah’s central region holds international archaeological significance, with excavations recording early human migration out of Africa from the Middle Palaeolithic to Neolithic periods.

Sharjah, June 1, 2024

Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), and Ambassador of the Faya Palaeolandscape World Heritage Nomination File, welcomed His Excellency Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi, UAE Minister of Culture and Chairperson of the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture, and Science, during a visit to the Faya Palaeolandscape archaeological site, which is nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, along with the surrounding sites in the Mleiha area of Sharjah.

The visit was also attended by His Excellency Eisa Yousif, Director General of the Sharjah Archaeology Authority (SAA); Khuloud Al Houli Al Suwaidi, Director of Tangible Cultural Heritage Department at the SAA; as well as several senior officials from both the Ministry and the SAA. It included a field tour of the rock site at Jebel Faya archaeological site (Paleolithic and Neolithic) – considered one of the most important Stone Age sites in the Arabian Peninsula and the world, and a visit to the Buhais Geological Park.

Chairing a meeting with the visiting delegation, Sheikha Bodour, along with Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi and other attendees, witnessed an introductory presentation on the historical and cultural significance on the Faya Palaeolandscape outlining its significance to the regional and global historical record, and its qualities which support World Heritage status.

The presentation explained that, thanks to the ongoing efforts and continuous research undertaken by the Sharjah government and the SAA to uncover, document and preserve the site – efforts which began thirty years ago and have continued in cooperation with of University of Tübingen in Germany, and the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research, excavations have revealed evidence of continuous human occupation in the area from the early Middle Palaeolithic period, 210,000 years ago, to the Neolithic period, approximately 6,000 years ago.

The human shelters, tools, life, and burials found within the limestone topography of the archaeological site illustrate the remarkable skill of early modern humans in adapting to their environment, and makes the site one of the earliest inhabited desert landscapes in the Arabian Peninsula and the world, enhancing the historical record of human migration out of Africa.

Sheikha Bodourexpressed her pride in this visit organized by the Sharjah Archaeology Authority and commended the significant contributions of the Ministry of Culture and UAE National Commission for Education, Culture, and Science in enriching the national cultural sector, preserving its achievements, and supporting governmental institutions in cultural, heritage, and artistic fields.

In turn, Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimiexpressed his gratitude for Sheikha Bodour’s Al Qassimisupport in raising awareness of Sharjah’s cultural heritage both locally and globally, thanking her for being an ambassador to the World Heritage Nomination for the Faya Palaeolandscape, and for her efforts having the site’s outstanding universal value recognized by UNESCO. 

Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi noted that Sharjah’s international status as a leader in the field of cultural and heritage work will be influential to the success of inscription efforts, and that the personal attention and direction of Sharjah’s leadership is hugely impactful to strengthening, enriching and preserving archaeological activity in the emirate. He further noted that Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah has continually called for the documentation and protection of sites of archaeological significance in the UAE.

Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi stressed that the Ministry of Culture has put all its expertise, capabilities, and international relations at the disposal of the Sharjah government to help achieve cultural work goals in the emirate, which are an integral part of the large cultural and heritage system in the UAE.

Director General of the SAA, Eisa Yousif, went on to reaffirm the SAA’s commitment to enhancing communication with all parties to highlight the dynamic local cultural scene in all its forms and to advance various cultural and creative industries. He explained that this site visit to the Faya Palaeolandscape actively contributes to the promotion of joint work translating the UAE’s goals in showcasing the elements of tangible cultural heritage on the international stage and solidifying their position on the global archaeological tourism map.


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