Stepping Back in Time

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Art and Architecture expert Burhanuddin Taiyeb Dalal (@burhanuddintd) takes a trip to the desert to quench his thirst for knowledge. Join him as he showcases the wonders of the past and reveals the secrets of these ancient lands, journeying through 70 million years of history at the Mleiha Archaelogical Centre.

Let’s get back into history and discover the secrets of early ages.  Mleiha; a journey of a unique excavation tour program with many findings of ancient Bedouin culture, the existence of Iron-Bronze age and understanding of early ages of human anatomy.

Mleiha is located in the beautiful Emirate of Sharjah, UAE.  The 45 minutes’ drive out to Mleiha is very beautiful with a bed of golden red sands and rocks on both sides not to mention the plantations and animals along the way. Mleiha Archaeological Centre opens at 9:00 A.M. till 7:00 P.M. on Saturday-Wednesday and 9:00 A.M till 9:00 P.M on Thursday & Friday.


I have always been keen to study the history for places I travel. Research, excavations, and deep studies provide evidence of human existence in Mleiha region between 130,000 and 120,000 years ago.

This museum takes you back in time and showcases findings from Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, Iron and Pre-Islamic Periods. The tour in Mleiha Archaeological Centre begins with a fascinating 4-5 minutes short bilingual video in Arabic and English, explaining how early age human life migrated from Africa to this region. Furthermore, the tour covers a large range of topics from the origin, style and standard of living, to diet, trade & commerce and arts like pottery, jewelry and vessels made of iron and bronze.

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The combination of artefacts and information points on display with the unique archaeological environment helped me to immerse myself in the journey from the Paleolithic to pre-Islamic periods. The guided tour really brought history to life and you can read on to find out some of the impressive findings it revealed…

The Paleolithic Period marks the starting point of Stone Age in the Human era. Essentially, the history from this era has typically been found in Africa, but through evidence on display at the centre such as stone artefacts from Mleiha shows early humans from this time settled and passed through Arabia en route to South Asia. Food for thought for the readers could be how early humans travelled from Africa to Jebel Faya during the Ice Age?

The Neolithic Period is the longest period in the history of humanity. After moving from Africa, one of the first sites on record today is Mleiha. This is the new stone age era, and the major discovery was the use of fire as well as funeral sites which portrayed the burial practices at that time and was something we were able to witness first hand on the day. Also, the period of invention began as humans began making tools and weapons made of flint and stone.

The Bronze Age marks the transition era from using stone to metal for making tools and weapons. Two of the phases from this era occurred in the UAE. The signature tomb style for construction was observed along with a communal burial site was discovered.

The Iron Age is known for the falaj system which was built for mass agricultural purposes. One such example is Thugeibah, a well-preserved agricultural hamlet near Al-Madam. Furthermore, this led to development of cities and strong construction.

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The Late Pre-Islamic Period boomed after the agricultural revolution, forming a bilingual community. Currency was made in this era, and trade between far off countries flourished.

Through the interactive displays informative guides I got a real sense of how the artefacts and local historical sites fit together and truly got a sense of what it felt like to live in the region thousands of years ago.

After the Archeological Centre tour, we were then driven in a 4x4 towards the actual city of Mleiha, showing us the Umm an-Nar tomb, Bronze age tombs and Stone-age sites at Jebel Faya, The Mleiha Fort, and a large graveyard located at the south of the fort displaying very unique and different types of graves and sizes.

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Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-Tourism Project is an ongoing effort to showcase the area’s ecological and archaeological treasures with today’s tourists whilst also protecting the site so that it can be enjoyed by future generations.

All in all, it is an amazing journey taking you back in time to walk in the footsteps of our forefathers and truly live the experience.

Burhanuddin Taiyeb Dalal