Sharjah & Dependencies – 12th World Scout Jamboree (1968)

Sharjah - World Jamboree (1968)

Sharjah – World Jamboree (1968)

The Emirate of Sharjah (إمارة الشارقةّ — Imārat al-Shāriqa) is the third largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, and is the only one to have land on both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The emirate covers 1,000 square miles (2,590 square kilometers) which is equivalent to 3.3 per cent of the UAE’s total area, excluding the islands. It has a population of over 800,000 (2008). The emirate of Sharjah comprises the capital city of Sharjah, after which it is named, and other minor towns and exclaves such as Kalba, Dibba Al-Hisn and Khor Fakkan. It is a constitutional monarchy and has been ruled by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi since 1972. The city of Sharjah, which overlooks the Persian Gulf, has a population of 519,000 (2003 census estimate).

Sultan Al Omaimi, a UAE poet and researcher in folk literature, says that some historians speculate that Sharjah was the name of an idol worshiped in the pre-Islamic era which was known as Abed Al Shareq. Other researchers link the word Sharqah to the fact that the city is located to the Sharq, or east, of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Hence the Arabic classical form of Sharjah is Al Shareqah. It is the colloquial form that is Al Sharjah.

Human settlement in the area covered by the emirate has existed for over 120,000 years, with significant finds made of early axes and stone tools as well as Copper and Iron Age implements in Al Dhaid, Madam and Faya. Archaeological finds in the Mleiha area point to human habitation consistent with the spread of humanity from Africa to the wider world, evidenced by finds displayed at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre. Historically the emirate was one of the wealthiest towns in the region.

Around 1727, the Al Qasimi clan took control of Sharjah and declared the polity independent. The first in a long series of maritime skirmishes between the Al Qasimi and British vessels took place in 1797, when the British-flagged Bassein Snow was seized and released two days later. The cruiser Viper was subsequently attacked off Bushire. A period of great instability followed along the coast, with a number of actions between British and Al Qasimi vessels alongside various changes of leadership and allegiances between the Rulers of Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Sharjah with Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi claiming sovereignty over ‘all the Joasmee ports’ in 1823, a claim recognized by the British at the time.

On January 8, 1820, Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi signed the General Maritime Treaty with Britain, accepting protectorate status in order to resist Ottoman domination. Following the expiration of a further treaty on May 4, 1853, Sharjah, along with other sheikhdoms on what was then known as the ‘Arabian Coast’ signed the Perpetual Treaty of Peace which gave rise to the collective name Trucial States being given to the emirates of the coast. Like four of its neighbors, Ajman, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain, its position along trade routes to India made it important enough to be recognized as a salute state.

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Sharjah was an important pearl fishing port. A British marine survey of 1830 found ‘three to four hundred boats’ fishing in the season, earning the ruler 100,000 Maria Theresa thalers.

In 1932, Imperial Airways established a regular air service through Sharjah, which was an overnight stop on the Eastern British Empire route. Al Mahatta Fort was built to house the airline’s guests.

Until 1963, civil mail from Sharjah tended to go through the post office in Dubai. Military mail from the British Forces stationed in the area went by air through the RAF airport in Sharjah. In 1963, Britain ceded responsibility for the Trucial States’ postal systems. On July 10, 1963, Sharjah opened its own post office and began to issue its own stamps and postal stationery. Its dependencies were Kalba, Khor Fakkan and Dibbah. There were also unauthorized overprints using Himriyyah, the name of a village in the sheikhdom.

An American philatelic entrepreneur by the name of Finbar Kenny saw the opportunity to create a number of editions of stamps aimed at the lucrative collector’s market and in 1964 concluded a deal with a number of Trucial States to take the franchise for the production of stamps for their respective governments. Kenny had made something of a specialty out of signing these deals, also signing with the rulers of Ajman and Fujairah in 1964 — and getting involved in a bribery case in the USA over his dealings with the government of the Cook Islands. The issue of stamps from Ajman’s dependency of Manama — a tiny agrarian village in the remote plains at which a ‘post office’ was opened — is a perfect example.

These stamps, luridly illustrated and irrelevant to the actual emirates they purported to come from (topicals included space research and the Tokyo Olympic Games) became known as “dunes”. Their proliferation quickly devalued them. Because of this, many popular catalogues do not list them.

On December 2, 1971, Sheikh Khalid bin Muhammad Al Qasimi (Sheikh Khalid) joined Sharjah to the United Arab Emirates. On January 24, 1972, the former ruler Sheikh Saqr staged a leftist coup. Having previously deposed Saqr, Sheikh Khalid had ordered the demolition of Sharjah Fort (Al Hisn Sharjah) to expiate Saqr’s memory. Saqr took over Khalid’s palace, holding him inside and in the ensuing confusion Sheikh Khalid was killed. Saqr was arrested and Khalid’s brother, Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, an author and historian, came to power.

Sharjah continued to issue stamps until July 31, 1972, when the United Arab Emirates assumed postal responsibilities. Until the issuance of the first UAE definitive series on January 1, 1973, Sharjah continued to use its own stamps. Covers with mixed UAE and Sharjah frankings are known. However, the Scott catalogue only lists stamps of Sharjah from the first definitives released in July 1963 through a set of pictorials portraying “progress in science, transport and communications” issued on April 23, 1965 (Scott #77-96).

In 1987, Sultan’s brother Abdulaziz staged a coup while Sultan was abroad. Huge state debt was stated as the reason. UAE President Zayed vehemently denounced the coup, and a deal was reached for Sultan to be restored, while Abdulaziz would become the Deputy Ruler. Sultan, however, dismissed Abdulaziz quite quickly. In 1999, the Crown Prince (Sultan’s eldest son) died while on vacation in their palace in England. Sultan made the decision to testify in front of a UK court. The new Crown Prince was appointed from a remote branch of the family.

Today’s stamp was released on February 12, 1968, as part of a set of six general issue and four air mail stamps in addition to two miniature sheets. None of these are listed in the Scott catalogue. The 5 dirham stamp portrays a Boy Scout raising the Sharjah and Scout flags along with an image of  Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant general in the British Army whose 1908 book Scouting for Boys triggered the entire scouting movement. In scouting, a jamboree is a large gathering of Scouts who rally at a national or international level.

The first World Scout Jamboree was held in 1920 at the Olympia Halls in Kensington, London. Thereafter, a World Jamboree has been held every four years. There are two exceptions to this: no Jamboree was held between 1937 and 1947 because of the Second World War, and the 1979 Jamboree, which was to be held in Iran, was cancelled due to the political upheaval in the region at that time. To date, there have been twenty three World Scout Jamborees, hosted in various countries, generally every four years. The 24th World Jamboree is to be held in North America in 2019. There are also national and continental jamborees held around the world with varying frequency. Many of these events will invite and attract Scouts from overseas.

The 12th World Scout Jamboree was held July 31 to August 9, 1967, and was hosted by the United States at Farragut State Park, in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho. It was the second World Scout Jamboree to take place in North America. With its theme “For Friendship,” the 12th World Jamboree attracted 12,011 Scouts from 105 countries. The latter included Scouts from Somalia, and 1,300 representatives from the United Kingdom, the largest Scouting contingent from outside North America. For the British Scouts, dressed in their new uniforms, it was a highlight to their Diamond Jubilee Year. Other countries represented included Canada, France, Indonesia, Jamaica, the Philippines, and Sweden.

Amongst the distinguished visitors were World Chief Guide Olave Baden-Powell and Vice President of the United States Hubert H. Humphrey. Memorable features of the Jamboree included a reconstruction of Baden-Powell’s Brownsea Island campsite, arena shows, Skill-o-Rama, adventure trail, the specially stocked fishing area and boating and other water activities on Lake Pend Oreille, in addition to a visit to a rodeo and a repeat of the Friendship Wide Game introduced at the 11th World Scout Jamboree in 1963.

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