Sunday, 7 July 2013

The End Of The Road For Sharjah's Airport Runway?

Al Ittihad Square
Al Ittihad Square (Photo credit: kathrin_gaisser)
News continues to come out regarding what appears to be a massive reworking of the centre of Sharjah around the Souq Al Markazi (Blue souk to you), 'Smile You're In Sharjah' roundabout and Ittihad Square areas. Today's Gulf News carries the announcement of a new Sharjah central transport station, which appears to move the existing bus station over Arouba Street to sit adjacent to the King Faisal mosque, making room for the big new junction that's planned. That junction appears as if it will see an end to the cheery 'Smile You're In Sharjah' floral messages that have greeted visitors to the Cultural Emirate for so long - I posted about that here.

But the model illustrating Gulf News' piece on the new transport hub would appear to show another passing - that of the remnants of the old Sharjah airport runway. It's a little known fact, but when you drive past the King Faisal Mosque from Mahatta Fort towards 'Smile You're In Sharjah', the slightly odd, bumpy road surface is in fact not a road surface at all, but the end of the old airport runway. Formerly the site of RAF Sharjah and then Sharjah International Airport until the opening of the new airport on the Dhaid road in 1977, the old Mahatta Fort (retaining the airport's original conning tower) is now an aviation museum - and the the oddly straight street S116 runs down the former runway, which becomes the road surface once you're past the lights by the King Faisal Mosque.

The new road network will replace that piece of street, according to the model in the photo. But thankfully Mahattah itself has been preserved, a fascinating aviation museum that's well worth a weekend visit. If you're quick, you can drive along the old runway, too!

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