Al Mahatta Museum, Sharjah U.A.E
Hello everyone and welcome to my first article.
In this article, I’ll be taking you on a tour to Al Mahatta museum in Sharjah U.A.E.
Aviation in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) dates back to the 1930’s. In fact, this airport (now a museum) was the first airport of the U.A.E. Opened in 1932, it served as a stop over for the Handley Page H.P.42 aircraft, belonging to Imperial Airways (based at Croydon, UK) for their routes to India, East Asia and Australia. During World War II, this airport also served as an RAF base.
The whole area looks different today though, the only surviving buildings are the control tower and the motel for transiting passengers. The rest of the airport has been either demolished or developed into a residential area. Back in 1998, when I just moved to Sharjah, the remnants of the runway and the taxiway were also present. Since the ‘runway’ was one of the main roads in Sharjah, it was soon repaved.
Al Mahatta Museum
The museum layout is simple. It looks exactly like the model in the picture above, the only exception is that there is a newly constructed hanger (behind the control tower) where the aircrafts are on display. Back when the museum was just opened, there were 3 aircrafts on display and the rest of the museum displayed elements of life in the 30’s – 50’s era. For example, they had a mockup of a barber saloon, a classroom, a movie theatre. Classic cars and bicycles were also on display. Today, there are 5 aircrafts on display, and the rest of the museum showcases the growth of aviation in the Middle East with interactive displays and cut away models of the landing gear, propeller and jet engines to name a few.
Let’s take a look at the five airplanes on display.
1. Douglas C-47 A (Skytrain) Dakota
Registered as G-AMZZ (fake registration). This is one of the first three airplanes to be on display. The civilian version is known as the DC-3 (Dakota).
2. De Havilland DH-104 Dove 6
Registered as G-AJPR (fake registration). Another one of the original three on display. This aircraft is suspended from the ceiling.
3. De Havilland DH-114 Heron
Registered as G-ANFE (fake registration). The last of the original three to be displayed. This is one of my favourite classic aircraft.
4. Avro 652 Anson C.19
Registered as G-AKVW (fake registration). This is one of the two later additions.
5. De Havilland DH-106 Comet 2
This aircraft is another late addition to the museum’s collection. Registered as G-AMXA. Only the nose section of this aircraft has been preserved. This nose section was originally placed at London Gatwick’s viewing area. When the viewing area was closed, the piece was then moved to its new home – Al Mahatta Museum.
Once you enter the aircraft, there is a display of BOAC’s seat configuration (1 row), and to the right is the flight deck.
The rest of the museum, as mentioned earlier, had various displays on the subject of aviation. The pictures below should give a brief exemplar of those displays.
The museum leaves us with a current picture of aviation in SHJ, for example the launch of Air Arabia – the first low cost airline in the Middle East.
I would say Al Mahatta Museum is a great showcase of the history of aviation in the Middle East. It gives visitors a rare opportunity to see old airplanes up and close and also learn about aviation in general. It might be a little hard to believe that this was an airport considering the amount of high rise buildings around it today. Having said that I highly recommend a visit to this museum if you happen to be around or in Sharjah or Dubai.
Thank you for reading this article, feel free to comment or ask me questions. Until my next post…..Happy Landings!!!