Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

The first plane to touch down in Sharjah 87 years ago: historic images of the UAE's earliest airport

See how Sharjah's first airport spread its wings and welcomed guests to stay in the UAE's earliest hotel

The UAE is now renowned for its sprawling airports, but the first to open here was not in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but in Sharjah.

Sharjah Air Station welcomed its first flight in 1932, when a plane from Pakistan's Gwadar touched down on October 5.

The Imperial Airways aircraft, nicknamed Hanno, landed at 4pm on its way to the UK, picking up fuel, passengers and mail in the UAE before setting off on its westward journey.

The history of the landmark airport is celebrated at Sharjah's Al Mahatta Museum, which opened in 2000 and highlights the region's aviation achievements.

Photographs released by the museum this week shine a light on the development of the air station, showing the construction of the site in the 1930s.

Scroll through the gallery above to see the historic images of Al Mahatta's earliest days.

Sharjah was a significant stopover on the British-owned Imperial Airways' routes between East and West before the airline shut down in 1939. During the Second World War, Al Mahatta acted as a base for military aircraft.

As well as becoming the UAE's first airport, Al Mahatta was also home to the nation's first hotel, featuring a guesthouse for travellers and crew on an overnight stopover. The location also featured a meteorological centre, a cinema, telegraph and postal services and a control tower.

The runway was converted into a road, now known as King Abdul Aziz Street, in the 1960s. The airstrip remained in use until Sharjah International Airport opened in 1977.

Al Mahatta Museum is behind Sharjah's General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs. It is open from 8am to 8pm Saturday to Thursday, and from 4pm to 8pm Friday. Entry is Dh10 for adults.

Updated: October 27, 2019 01:50 PM

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