Sharjah is the third largest city in the UAE, and its cultural capital because of its rich legacy of arts. It is home to the main administrative and commercial centers of the Emirate, as well as a number of cultural projects, such as the museums of archaeology, natural history, science, arts, and islamic art and culture. The city houses a number of elegant mosques, including the King Fayçal Mosque, the largest in the UAE, as well as two major covered souks and a number of recreational areas and public parks such as Al Jazeirah Fun Park and Al Buheirah Corniche.
Sharjah, which shares its southern border with Dubai, is ruled by the Al Qasimi family. It is the only emirate to have coastlines on both the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. In the nineteenth century the town of Sharjah was the leading port in the lower Gulf. Produce from the interior of Oman, India and Persia arrived there. Sharjah's salt mines meant that salt constituted an important part of its export business, along with pearls. In the 1930s when the pearling industry declined and trade decreased due to the creek silting up, Imperial Airways' flying boats set up a staging post for flights en route to India, which benefited the residents of Sharjah. Today, under the leadership of Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is the cultural and educational centre of the UAE and takes pride in preserving the country's cultural heritage as well as promoting Arab culture and traditions.