Retracing The Steps of The Ascent of Man at Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

Every animal leaves traces of what it was; man alone leaves traces of what he created.

Jacob Bronowski

My mind whirred with myriad thoughts as we sped across the desert to Mleiha, located about 60 kilometers from Sharjah. As I watched the arid landscapes flying past through the window, my mind, of its own volition traveled back in time to over 2 million years ago when probably Man stood up on his two feet and took the first step for all mankind. My mind gazed in fascination at probably how Africa, the navel of the world where it is believed the human race as we know it originated. My thoughts combined with a fertile imagination painted mental images of the migration of the species Homo Erectus from Africa owing to severe drought and their inability to adapt to the harsh conditions. It is indeed paradoxical that this very inability paved the way for the evolution of Man. One of the earliest migrations of humans happened out of Africa and Man slowly traveled to Asia and gradually populated other continents and islands.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre & Mleiha Desert Safari – Sharjah, UAE

I broke through from the intricate web of thoughts that seemed to have ensnared my mind as the van we were traveling in pulled to a halt. We had arrived at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre which promised to provide a peep through history into the fascinating civilization that thrived in this very region a million years ago. Traces of what Man created more than a million years ago have been found in the archaeological sites around the Mleiha Archaeological Centre. The center literally opens a window to a fascinating past through interactive displays, artifacts display, information points, and guided tours to the actual excavation sites.

The Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah, UAE

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

As you cross the threshold of the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, it seems as if you have taken multiple steps back in time. The center has an engaging array of visuals, artifacts, and interactive kiosks that take you on a ride back in time,  all the way back to the beginning of time itself, the Paleolithic Age. From there you begin your journey, back to the future. Information and artifacts excavated from the Mleiha region are displayed in their corresponding sections which are dedicated to the specific ages or periods of time. Come! let us embark on a quick journey across the frontiers of time.

The Paleolithic Period

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

More than 2 million years ago early man started making and using simple and crude stone instruments signaling the advent of what we now call the Paleolithic Period or Stone Age. Africa was the theatre of this development and the Palaeolithic period that began about 2.5 million years ago lasted till about 12,000 years ago.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre




Mleiha Archaeological Centre







There is evidence from Mleiha that suggests early humans from Africa passed through Arabia on their way to South Asia. This period is brought alive at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre through riveting visuals, infographics, and interactive kiosks.

The Neolithic Period

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

This period which is generally considered as the last part of the Stone Age or also sometimes called as New Stone Age is signified by the advent of farming.and the use of domesticated animals.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

Traces of the inhabitation of humans of this period in the Mleiha region are plenty and various stone and flint tools and weapons of the period excavated from nearby sites are on display in this section.The Neolithic life in the region is traced to the period between 8000 BCE to 4000 BCE.

The Bronze Age

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

The Bronze Age was the period during which the use of bronze slowly replaced the stone in the making of tools and weapons.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

This was also the period which saw the emergence of the early precursors of writing systems based on symbols. Excavations in the Inland basin of the Mleiha region in the past 20 years have revealed ample traces of the remnants of the Bronze Age civilization.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

The Bronze Age Civilization in the Mleiha region is supposed to date back to around 3000 BCE and is further subdivided into phases based on the findings from the different excavations sites in Mleiha.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

The metal vessels and ornaments on display tell a silent story of the ingenuity of Man as far back as 3000 BCE. Looking at the exhibits one wonders about the people who used the vessels and many questions arise in the mind – how did they look? how did they speak? what happened to them?

The Iron Age

As we literally walked forward in time at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, we reached the section dedicated to the Iron Age.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

This dates back in time to period between 1200 and 400 BCE and is also broken up into three phases. Abundant traces of the second phase of the Iron age has been found in Mleiha. Thugeibah, a thriving hamlet which practiced agriculture has been linked to the Iron Age based on the finding of graves and the items in them.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

It is also established that probably the domestication of Dromedaries, a species of camel existed in Thugeibah in the second phase of the Iron Age.

The Late Pre-Islamic Period

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

This was the period just before the region of the UAE and all of Arabia and most of Central Asia came under the influence of the mighty Sassanian Empire.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

This period is traced to have existed between the 3rd and 4th century BC. Artefacts found that are traced to this region and on display at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre include locally made vessels and tools but also luxury goods including marble articles which established the existence of trade with the outside world including Southern Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Mesopotamia, and Egypt.

Mleiha Archaeological Sites, Sharjah

It is one thing to look in wonder at the exhibits in a Museum and be swept away by the experience. However, the experience of visiting actual excavation sites where one can actually have an immersive experience of long-lost chapters of the history of Man is on a different level altogether. The Mleiha Archaeological Centre facilitates the visits to the sites that have been unearthed over the last 40 years. We had the opportunity to visit a few of these sites and had an incredible experience! The following are the main archaeological sites in Mleiha, Sharjah, UAE:

Umm An-Nar Tomb

This is situated virtually at arm’s length from the Mleiha Archaeological Centre and is an impressive well-shaped structure that served as a funeral site and dates back to 2300 BCE. Based on the size of the structure it is estimated that it could have housed anywhere up to 500 bodies. Looking at the Umm-An-Nar tomb waves of strange somnolence engulfed me as my mind sped across time to the Bronze age.

Jebel Faya Site

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

The Jebel Faya mountain hides in its fold many secrets that date back to the Stone Age as well as the Bronze Age. There are three Bronze Age tombs at this site which are identified archaeologically as FAY-NE20, 21, and 22.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre


Mleiha Archaeological Centre

The largest of these tombs is NE20 which measures approximately 6.9 m X 6.2 m. Traces of human bones, shards of pottery, bronze artifacts, and beads from a necklace kind of adornment have been found at this tomb.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

The Stone Age too has left its footprints on the desert sands  of time and these are visible in a number of sites at Jebel Faya

Mleiha Fort Site

In 1990, when a crew of workers were digging for a laying a pipeline they stumbled upon a fort which was part of the ancient city of Mleiha and constructed sometime towards the end of the 3rd century CE. The fort measuring 56.11 m X51.77 m is made of mud brick with thick walls given the fact that its function was one of resisting the onslaught of marauding invaders. Another interesting and important landmark here is the Palace which is a building that is well fortified and consists of towers and buttresses. Some interesting finds from the Palace include gold coins, a bronze bull’s head, bronze coins, Indian cooking pots, ivory, and traces of cloth and basketry.

Fossil Rock

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

A rock that seems to go back far into the frontiers of time is the Fossil rock which is estimated to be a staggering 65,000 billion years old.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

Mleiha Archaeological Centre

The place is a great spot to visit for both paleontologists and laymen alike. In addition to its palaeontological and archaeological importance, the Fossil Rock stands solitary in the midst of wide expanses of sand and offers some stunning photo opportunities.


At a distance from the Fossil rock can be seen a Bedouin Village.

Outdoor Adventure Activities At Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates


If you thought that the Mleiha Archaeological Centre was only for geeks and people who loved history, then you are wrong! You may have experienced the adventure activities in Dubai but the ones in Sharjah are unique in their own right. If you are looking to give yourself an adrenaline rush with adventure activities deep in the deserts of Sharjah, the Mleiha Archaeological Centre has many action-packed experiences like dune bashing, Quad Biking in Sharjah and much more to satiate the adventure appetite of all and includes the Mleiha Desert Safari, Sharjah, UAE.


  • Tours to Camel Rock and Fossil Rock, an extreme off-roading experience that will ensure that you cling to your seats as your hearts lurch forward in excitement. But the skilled driver will send the vehicle soaring to the peaks of sand dunes and then with a flick of the steering wheel, you will be hurtling downwards with the sand dispersing in all four directions. The thrill of this dune bashing experience in Mleiha, Sharjah combines with the stunning landscapes to bring alive the wild beauty of the desert. We had the time of our life on this Mleiha Desert Safari Experience.


  • Desert Cycling Tours are a great way to immerse oneself literally in the spirit of the desert landscapes. Cycling tours on FatBoy bikes that have extra wide tyres to manoeuvre in the desert is a great way to see the historical and archaeological sites of Mlehia and also glimpse the furtive wildlife of the region including its reptiles and birds.
  • Dune Buggy Adventure is one of the exciting Off-Road Desert adventures in Mleiha offered by Mlheia Archaeological Centre.Take off in the cloud of red sand deep into the deserts of Sharjah for an exclusive rendezvous with the desert and its mysteries.
  • Trekking in the sands of the Sharjah Desert is a pleasurable activity and a unique experience. There is a choice of short and long treks offered by the Mleiha Archaeological Centre.
  • For those looking for a more serene and luxurious experience, a drive through the sand dunes to the middle of the desert to view a spectacular sunset which is actually a sunset safari in Mleiha, Sharjah, followed by dinner beneath the stars is on the cards. After dinner, a spot of stargazing at Mleiha through a powerful telescope is a unique experience.


Get an immersive feel of the intriguing world of Mleiha through our short video:

Take a peek into Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism video:

As part of the Mleiha archaelogical and Eco-Tourism project it is planned to construct the Mleiha National Desert Park across an area spanning 450 sq Km.that will provide a natural habitat for animals like the Oryx, Gazelle, and Mountain Deer. Also on the anvil is an Astronomy Observatory.

Mleiha Archaelogical Centre Location Map

Some Good to Know Facts about the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah, UAE

  • The Mleiha Archaeological Centre is situated about 60 Kilometres from Sharjah Airport
  • The Mleiha Archaeological Centre is open all days of the week
  • It is open from 9 AM to 7 PM Saturday to Wednesday
  • It is open from 9 AM to 9 PM on Thursdays and Fridays
  • Tickets are issued up to 30 minutes of closing
  • Tickets to the Centre cost 25 AED for adults and 15 AED for children above 3 years
  • The Mleiha Archaeological Centre also offers return transfer options from Sharjah
  • The entry to the Centre is included in all activity packages
  • The Mleiha Archaeological Centre makes for a great day trip from Sharjah for families, people interested in history and archaeology
  • The Bystro Cafe at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre serves coffee, soft drinks, and snacks that can be enjoyed as you ponder over your desert adventure

Tips that will stand in Good Stead While Visiting Mleiha for a desert safari


  • Wear light clothes and comfortable clothes
  • Ensure that your footwear can tackle the desert sands
  • Wear a hat or a cap during the day
  • Keep a light sweater or jacket handy as it can become chill as the day progresses
  • Sunglasses are a must to protect yourself from the harsh glare of the sun during the afternoons
  • Carry your camera and phone with sufficient batteries and memory so that you can go on a clicking spree in the desert

As the van headed towards Sharjah and the memories of Mlheia became a cloud of fine red sand behind us, the long and eventful day seemed to rewind in my mind as I mentally retraced the steps of the ascent of Man at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre.

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Have you been to Mleiha? Are you fascinated by the history of human evolution? If you are, then you must visit Mleiha and take a peep into the distant past.




Thanks for visiting our site Voyager – and taking the time to read our post!
We’d love if you’d comment and share this post.

We were hosted by Sharjah Tourism. However, the views and opinions expressed here are our own based on our experience. If you are planning a trip to Sharjah then you may contact Outbound Konnections Reps Pvt. Ltd. Email to: [email protected] 


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68 thoughts on “Retracing The Steps of The Ascent of Man at Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah

  1. Alli Smith Reply

    I love that there is so much more to the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, including the adventure activities. My husband and I would love to visit. He’s such a history geek and I’m more into the adventure activities.

  2. Tomi C Reply

    My family and I love touring ancient ruins and Mleiha Archaeological Centre sounds like a place we would love to visit someday. It’s amazing to see the beginnings of mankind up close and personal.

  3. candy Reply

    Here is a place my husband and I would totally enjoy visiting and seeing everything it has to offer. We love history and ancient ruins. Amazing place.

  4. Jeanette Reply

    I love being able to see history. Physically seen it with my own two eyes makes it so much more real. I would love to explore this place just to learn more about the culture.

  5. Mellissa Reply

    A true account of history and discoveries. You make me want to travel full time and work pastime. Such beautiful archeological finds and even the landscapes are beautiful.

  6. Ashley Reply

    I love history and exploring new places. This looks like heaven to me. I would love to travel here and learn all about it.

  7. Pam Reply

    What a beautiful place and with so much history behind it! I would love to visit one day.

  8. Claudia Krusch Reply

    I would love to go see the Mleiha Archaeological Centre in person. I love to learn about our history.

  9. Shona Reply

    This is great. I’d heard of Mleiha Archaeological Centre but hadn’t made the effort to visit. Having read this I will. It’s not that far to get there from Dubai and right now is the perfect weather for it. Thanks for the info.

  10. Samantha Reply

    Wow this looks so impressive. Those rock formations are stunning! I would love to be able to experience this one day.

  11. T.J. Reply

    What a great blog article. I’m going to be adding this to my travel list. Great photo’s and descriptions of events and sites. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Farrah Less G. Reply

    I like traveling and I like to go to different places such as historical landmarks that has rich history of the past. I love learning while on an adventure. I have never been in this side of the world but definitely will be added on my list.

  13. Nikki Reply

    That is such a cool place! I love archaeology. I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was in high school but my guidance counselor talked me out of it. I wish I had followed that dream!

  14. Debra Hawkins Reply

    What an incredible place! I always wanted to be an archaeologist when I was little. I would love to see all of this in person!

  15. Marysa Reply

    What a cool place to visit! I studied anthropology in college and this sounds incredible. I would love to see these artifacts in person.

  16. Mags Nixon Reply

    Sharjah sounds a very interesting place to visit. We’ve visited some of the paleolithic sites on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands, UK. As an adventuring family we would love to do the activities there – the quad biking and trekking look amazing and thanks for the tips. Did you do the paragliding?

  17. Fiona Maclean Reply

    It’s funny, I’ve been ‘sold’ Sharjah as a destination for its beaches and weather. But the archeological side looks truly fascinating and much more of a hook. I’d love to visit some of the sites of Mleiha

  18. Anu Reply

    Ah, I visited Maleiha earlier this year and am yet to write about it – wonder why. I fondly remember visiting the center where they explain the migration so well. The tour to the camel rock was fun as there was sandstorm that added to the adventure. It is a little-known part of UAE and Sharjah, glad that you wrote about it.

  19. Marya Reply

    i’ve never been to UAE, but just like some people on the comment section, i’m one of those people who only heard of sharjah when it comes to its beaches and that’s that.. this one looks pretty cool!

    i’m interested to find some opportunity to work in UAE, but we’ll see. who knows? maybe i can get a chance to explore it someday. 🙂

  20. Dominic Gramatte Reply

    The Mleiha Archaeological Centre looks like a lot of fun. I would be all over those outdoor adventures for sure – riding the dunes on a quad bike is right up my street. 🙂

  21. Dany Reply

    There’s something that fascinates me in desert: they always call out to me! I’d never heard of the Mleiha Archaeological Centre but I’ll definitely check it out, I’d love to visit!

  22. Julien Mordret Reply

    A really fascinating visit, so much to be discovered there! It’s awesome they let you see actual excavation sites. And I had no idea desert cycling was even possible, I would totally love to try – I will keep the idea in mind for my UAE road trip that I have planned for 2018!

  23. Marjie Mare Reply

    The pictures are breathtaking, I feel like I am in the place where they were taken. I learn so much from reading your post. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Katie Reply

    This is amazing, thank you for such a detailed post with so many pictures! I love history, archeology, and anthropology, so I would be right in my element! Driving up and down the dunes sounds super fun too!

  25. Erica Edwards Reply

    What a fascinating site to visit! I loved your introduction, I think you really captured the sense of timelessness that must exude from such a place.

  26. Lucy Reply

    I love the colour of the sand, it is so rich. I would like to go and take lots of photos in the desert. The museum looks very interesting and I cannot believe how old the artefacts are.

  27. Lydia Smith Reply

    Some times I just like to move away from the common landcspaes and soak myself up in history and archeology. Mleiha Archeological Centre seems to be capable of doing the trick this 2018. There’s so much history and it’s about the origin of man. I must say the archeological centre is well preserved. It’s commendable.

  28. Michelle Reply

    This reminds me of Egypt! I was blown away by the archaeological wonders of that ancient civilisation, and Sharjah sounds like a place I’d thoroughly enjoy too. The action-packed adventures are icing on the cake! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  29. Debra Schroeder Reply

    The caves and tombs look so cool, like something out of a science fiction movie.It seems almost a shame to spoil the atmosphere with dune buggies. Although those dunes would be fun to sandboard.

  30. Kirstie Reply

    I’ve never been to an archaeological center. It seems very interesting. In fact, I’ve never been to a desert before. If I were to go to UAE, I’d definitely not miss this.

  31. Abhinav Singh Reply

    Mleiha was easily my favourite day in Sharjah. I was surprised to see so much history in Mleiha. Whether its indulging in a desert safari or observing a 65 million year old rock or visiting pre historic caves and shelters, Mleiha amazed me at every turn. Your blog and pictures does full justice to the destination.

  32. Megan Jerrard Reply

    I’ve become really fascinated by the story of mankind recently, and love watching the BBC documentaries which follow our evolution from mans first steps to today. Mleiha Archaeological Centre sounds like an incredible stop for those in the area – I’m amazed that they have exhibits of pottery and artifacts which are so well preserved from the time period. I also enjoy looking at exhibits from many hundreds – thousands of years ago and imaging how the people of the time would have looked, used their tools and interacted within their communities.

    I would love to go hiking in the Jebel Faya mountain and unearth archaeological treasures! Or spot something during a desert safari 😀

  33. Tracy Reply

    Really enjoyable read I love learning new things! Fascinating to see the evolution of man through the ages!

  34. Elaine J Masters Reply

    I love the architecture and the rock formations. It’s incredible to be in such an ancient land and know your ancestors from pre-history stood in the same spots. Would love taking a jeep tour there as well! Great contrasts.

  35. Nisha Reply

    This is such a comprehensive post on Mleiha. My husband has been there and couldn’t stop talking about it. Its proximity to Sharjah definitely makes it an attraction worth a visit. Some of your pictures are awesome.

  36. BonBon Reply

    WOW!!! Soooo cool…. Never really paid much attention to this place coz it’s just way too far from us but looks like its definitely worth it. Thaks for sharing.

  37. Gayathri Reply

    I can’t believe I have not visited this place even though we are staying quite close by. I should make a trip soon.

  38. Ami Reply

    I have been intrigued by Meliha from the time I saw it on your instagram. It definitely is one place that I need to visit, especially that rock. The museum too, is so interesting. Glad to read about it finally.

  39. Carmen Baguio Reply

    What a treasure! I can’t believe how many artifacts the museum has that are from the stone ages. I’ll have to refer back to the Mleiha Archeological Centre next year when I’m teaching prehistoric times to my 6th grade classes.

  40. Stephanie Reply

    I’ve never heard of this area, but it looks fascinating. The rock formations are gorgeous, and how fun to visit a real archaeological site like this.

  41. Lia Garcia Reply

    This is FASCINATING! I love history and it would be so neat to visit this center to see historical artifacts and then actually visit the archaeological digs where they were excavated. So cool!

  42. Kavita Favelle Reply

    I would love to visit Mleiha. Like you, I’m fascinated to imagine the lives of our most distant ancestors, and love to read about the topic and the latest theories and discoveries. What an amazing landscape around the centre and site of the ancient fort / city as well.

  43. Lois Alter Mark Reply

    Most museums are so far removed from the artifacts that they showcase- how cool it must have been to be viewing these items in the very place that they originated! Plus, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. What an extraordinary look back in history.

  44. Nic Reply

    This is great because most often all you see of the UAE is the large modern cities, its nice to see some of the history too.

  45. Tonya Reply

    Archaeology is so cool! There is so much to uncover! I want to visit a place like this!!

  46. Cathy Reply

    It is interesting to know the history of man, some museums offer such an eye-opening pieces of information about this particular events. The sand dunes is one thing that I’ve been dying to do since then, love the serenity of the place. Looks breath taking. I have not been to Mleiha but my curious mind sometimes wonders where does man come from and their evolution then I should visit here.

  47. Damien McGuigan Reply

    I like visiting ancient sites and taking my time to explore. There seems to be a lot of history to experience at Mlehia, and also some adrenaline filled fun for afterwards as well. What is it like to explore in desert heat?

  48. David Elliott Reply

    I know my daughter would love visiting those archaeological digs there. And learning about all of the ancient time periods is so fascinating. Maybe we will be able to make it out there someday.

  49. Carmen Edelson Reply

    Such a great quote by Jacob Bronowski! I’d just love to trek across these beautiful sands so thank you for all the practical planning information. I am particularly fascinated by the Bronze Age!!

  50. Grace Reply

    This is so cool! The Mleiha sites look gorgeous. You’re right, there’s something incredible about visiting such sites in their habitat. So much better than a museum (though I like both).

  51. Archana Singh Reply

    Such a detailed piece. I loved Mleiha the most during or Sharjah trip. There is so much to see and do from history lovers to adventure seekers. Dune bashing was the best.

  52. Paige Wunder Reply

    I’m a HUGE fan of archaeology, so this would be a place that I would love to explore. While the museum looks absolutely amazing, even more, I would love to get our and explore the tombs in Jebel Faya mountain! It looks like such a unique experience!

  53. Cat Reply

    This is the kind of places that I could spend tons of time at. It is fascinating to learn about the rich history of our human past!

  54. Sarah Kim Reply

    The building itself is so architecturally beautiful! I like how it brings you back to the past and even goes all the way back to the Paleolithic Age. This sounds like an interesting place.

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