Tracing Al Mahatta’s aviation history

The museum first opened its doors in 2000, and since then, it has been a repository of stories of the first plane to land on Sharjah’s territories, the development of Sharjah’s first airport since the 1940s, and its influence on the economic, cultural and social life in the region.

TT Bureau

The importance of Al Mahatta as the representative of aviation history in Sharjah and UAE is undeniable. The museum features a collection of exhibits in the first airport headquarters and provides an opportunity for new generations to learn about the history of aviation in Sharjah. The story of aviation in these parts began on October 5, 1932, when the first plane landed at Sharjah airport at 4 pm. It came from Gwadar airport (now in Pakistan), on the way to Britain. The Imperial Airways aircraft, named Hanno, fuelled up and left carrying passengers and mail from Sharjah, marking the first flight in the history of the country.

Strategic link
Since its inception, Sharjah’s first airport played a pivotal role in promoting the stature of Sharjah and the country even before the formation of the UAE. The airport served as a strategic link between the East and the West, and as a bridge to other cultures and civilizations, offering a fast, easy and effective way to connect with other countries in the region and the world.

Sharjah’s strategic location contributed to mark a significant change in the international air routes. The Imperial Airways decided to shift their air routes from Persia and launch a new flight route through the Arabian Gulf region to their destinations in the Far East. The new route included Cairo, Basra, and Sharjah Air Station as main stopover airports.

Al Mahatta was strategically used as a link between Europe, Asia and Australia, offering effective communication channels with the Western countries in all cultural and commercial fields. The airport was also the base for military aircraft during the Second World War until the year 1971, when the last Hunters, British jet-powered fighters, left Sharjah.

Airport amenities
The Al Mahatta was distinguished from the region’s other airports by a fortified guesthouse for overnight stops and sleepover making it also the first hotel in the country. The airport’s amenities also include a meteorological centre, telegraph and postal services, control tower, fuel tanks, airport defence force and an aircraft landing field that developed into a runway. In the 1960s, the runway was converted into an asphalt street, now known as King Abdul Aziz Street.

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