If you look at the mega-airport of Dubai International nearby, it is hard to believe that Sharjah once was the first (and later: the key) airport for connections to the region. What is now in the heart of the city was once a landing strip on salty grounds on the way from Europe (mainly: Britain) to India. The former terminal building hosts a really nice exhibition about aviation history.
The story of the historic Sharjah Airport incepts in 1932, when British rulers and the Sharjah Ruler Sultan bin Sawr Al Qasimi agreed on the conditions to add the airstrip on the Imperial Airways Route between Baghdad and Jodphur. The terminal building was in fact a Fort, in which passengers and crew could relax and were also protected against potential raids during the overnight stay. In 1940, the overnight was scheduled to be held in Dubai, but the RAF still used the airport during World War II. After the war, there were several extentions, before it was replaced by the modern International Airport in 1977.
Al Mahatta Museum – Location & Admission
The location of historic Al Mahatta Airport is in the heart of today’s Sharjah. As you likely will not be based in the city, when you visit Sharjah and the museum, the easiest way to reach it is by car. The public parking spaces around the museum are paid parking and either require sufficient coins or a prepaid parking card. The museum itself offers free parking for visitors, though.
The museum is opened daily. The opening times are 8:00 to 20:00 hrs. The only exception are Friday’s, when the museum is opening at 16:00. Admission for adults was 10 AED, roughly 2.50 Euro.
Al Mahatta Museum – Airplane Exhibition
You start your visit of Al Mahatta Museum in the Aircraft Hangar, which is a real gem for aviation lovers. It features six complete airplane bodies. Two ones are De Havilland wings, a DH.104 Dove and a DH.114 Heron. The Douglas DC3 is likely the classic among the planes. There is also a Handley Page HP 43, an Avr Anson C19 as well as the small Auster J/1 Autocrat. There is also some equipment in the hangar, for example an old refueling car.
While you unfortunately cannot look inside these planes, there are two cockpits, which are definitely a highlight of your visit. The DH-106 Comet is a real classic. The cockpit and a short part of the cabin of the Vickers Armstrong VC-10 are nicely arranged and “look out of” the hangar.
Al Mahatta Museum – Airport History Exhibition
I was already really flashed by the airplane exhibition. However, the remaining parts of the museum are definitely at least as great. The first section of the exhibition, which are all located in historic airport facilities, is the gallery about the history of Sharjah Al Mahatta Airport. There are not only a lot of photos in place, but also historic items and models, which give you a great insight about how the airport used to operate.
In a later section of the exhibition, there are not just photos, but also a video footage of the first flight to/from Sharjah and a model of the first plane landing there.
Al Mahatta Museum – Miracle Of Flight Exhibition
One thing which makes Al Mahatta Museum really special is that it is not only focusing on airplane and the history of the place, but also topics linked to it. The Miracles of Flight exhibition is just great. It shows how flying dinosaurs, birds or insects are adopted to fly and how this was served as a blueprint for today’s aviation. It also honors international aviation pioneers.
Al Mahatta Museum – Air Arabia
The final sections of exhibitions is about Air Arabia, the home and key airline of the modern Sharjah Airport. A bit of marketing, but you definitely can stand it – it is quite well done and somehow even informative.
Al Mahatta Museum – The Gallery
As I liked the place and I felt they might be interesting to you, I added a 170 major picture gallery to the posting. They are part of the travel gallery:
Sharjah has a couple of really great places and museums – Al Mahatta Museum is definitely one of them. An amazing collection, which really topics the whole range of flying. Congratulations, this place is a gem – unfortunately a hidden one. If you are around, take some time and enjoy it. It is worth it, even if you are not an aviation freak. Top Pick! – of course.