Sharjah’s Martyrs Monument

The Martyrs Monument, Sharjah

photography by: Omri Westmark

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The third most populous city in the UAE, Sharjah prides itself as a nationwide cultural and educational center, whose rising significance has been accompanied by a building frenzy of academic institutions and monuments. Standing out among the city’s recently built landmarks is the Martyrs Monuments, a clump of golden boxes whose otherworldly appearance is impossible to ignore.

For the untrained eye, Sharjah might seem like an indistinguishable part of the DSA metropolitan area that seamlessly stretches from Ajman in the north to Dubai in the south. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth as evident by the myriads of coveted awards this city has been showered with in recent years, including the 2014’s Islamic culture capital and the 2019’s UNESCO World Book Capital, just to name a few.


With so many hefty titles, the city has subsequently become an international hub for education and culture, boasting a series of universities, libraries and monuments which reflect its growing importance. Perhaps one of the most notable of these newly-built vanity projects is an oddly-shaped gilded sculpture, situated right in front of the University of Sharjah’s main campus.


Inaugurated in 2016 by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, best known as the ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah, the Martyrs Monument pays a tribute to the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country. Rising over a large plaza with which it shares its name, the memorial comprises ten separate parts, a granite pedestal, 8 clusters of dozens of aurum-colored boxes and an arched dome, each of which is 1 meter tall.


Every golden cuboid measures 20 cm by 20 cm by 30 cm, and is made of aluminum panels, coated with a layer of gold. The boxes’ outward faces are each engraved with a single Arabic word, collectively forming the apt Quranic verse – “Do not think of those slain for the cause of God as dead. They are alive with their Lord and receive sustenance from Him”.


With a whopping 60-70 pieces per level, each of which weighs nearly 2.5 kilograms, the sculpture features a sturdy structure of reinforced concrete that offsets its bulky load. Curiously, the eccentric monument is surrounded by an expansive lawn, where a pair of crescent-shaped exhibition halls offer a couple of insights about the project, and the national heroes it is dedicated for.