Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Thursday, November 29, 2007

LNG Storage Hub May Be Located in Fujairah

LNG Site Needed in Gulf
Platts in Singapore announced today--29Nov2007--that the Dubai Multi Commodities Center is in "critical negotiations" to secure a site for its LNG storage hub in the Persian Gulf and to identify foundation customers, who will also be offered an equity shareholding in the project company, a senior DMCC official said Thursday.

Fujairah Location?
The DMCC had initially identified Dubai as the location for the LNG storage project, but was now more keen on locating it in Fujairah, the Dubai-based exchange's Executive Director-Energy Tilak Doshi told the Middle East and Asia Energy Summit in Singapore.

Dubai Disadvantages
The intent was to bypass the Strait of Hormuz, which is regarded as a vulnerable chokepoint if hostilities break out between Iran and the US, Doshi said. Oman had also cropped up as an alternative location, and Dubai was not off the table, though land costs were steep in the emirate, he added.

"If the choice is between Dubai and Fujairah, we will take Fujairah," he said.

Way Ahead
Phase I of the project, which will set up cryogenic LNG storage tanks of 200,000 cu m capacity each, is expected to be ready by 2011, Doshi said. "We are in critical negotiations," he said, referring to both talks with the Fujairah authorities for land and with the project's potential customers.

"We hope to finalize the negotiations by Q1 or Q2 [2008]." Construction on the project should start by mid- or end-2008, and be completed in about three years, Doshi said.

Source: Vandana Hari, vandana@platts.com at Platts.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lonely Planet Guide: The Best and the Worst of Fujairah

Writer, Virginia Maxwell, might have been having a bad day or two when visiting the emirate of Al Fujairah but she doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the things about the region that she dislikes.

A critique of a city and region is always subjective, especially from someone who blows in and blows out and does not linger sufficiently to let things grow on them. But first impressions are important and need to be heard, especially by those who have grown familiar with a territory.

In listing the worst as well as the best of things in Fujairah, do factor in the matter that this tour guide was published in 2004 and Virginia’s travel of the region may have been a couple of years earlier. So things could have improved, or got worse!

According to the Lonely Planet Guide to the UAE:

Best of the Region
The best of the area is the outlying region especially “the dramatic mountain scenery… and pristine stretches of beach.”

Worst of the Region
The worst of the area is Fujairah city, “a rather characterless city without much tourism infrastructure… so our recommendation is to bypass Fujairah as its beaches are polluted and unattractive and the Port of Fujairah… is a major blot on the landscape.”

Worst Accommodation
The Fujairah Youth Hostel with its “smelly outside shared bathrooms and a small grubby kitchen. The Holiday Beach Motel in Dibba was described as having “seen better days and now has a very depressing feel.”

Mid-range accommodation lists the Fujairah Beach Hotel as having “seen better days… with a vague smell of damp.” This ties with the Ritz Plaza Hotel which “is nothing to write home about…is perfectly acceptable… [but] has a bar which “is one of those blots on the UAE landscape.”

Best Accommodation
For basic accommodation the LPG selected the “excellent youth hostel in Khor Fakkan.

For mid-range the Hilton “is the best place to stay in town.” The Siji was described as “the new kid on the Fujairah hotel scene [this statement is way out of date in 2007] but is “a soulless place geared toward a business clientele.”

For top of the range, Le Meridien was described as ‘oooh yeah!’

Best Place for a Drink
Virginia’s choice is “undoubtedly the Fez Bar” alongside the Hilton Hotel.

Best Restaurant
Virginia’s choice is the Hilltop Restaurant, perched on a hill in the tiny Omani enclave of Madha, 20kms from Fujairah on the way to Khor Fakkan.

Best Harbour
Khor Fakkan (part of the emirate of Sharjah and an enclave in Fujairah) “must be the most beautiful harbour in the UAE” whose “fabulous beach and atmospheric corniche [will make] the lack of alcohol…seem only a minor inconvenience.”

Best Mosque
The fifteenth century whitewashed mosque of Al Bidyah 8kms nth of Khor Fakkan, where women and men can enter to see the oldest operating mosque in the UAE.

Offering a greater size is the newest mosque in Dibba “spectacularly sited in front of the mountains [and] one of the most impressive on the east coast.”

Best Diving and Snorkeling
The nine or more diving companies that operate around the reefs and waters of Bidyah (or Badiyah) with the world-class coral and marine life.

Source: Arabian Peninsula, Lonely Planet Guide, 2004.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Khor Fakkan

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bull Butting: Quintessentially Fujairah

If you are coming to Fujairah for a day in the cooler months, make sure it is a Friday so you can experience the ancient sport of bull butting.

When you hit the corniche at the end of the main street, turn right (parallel to the beach and towards Oman) and after 200 metres on the right you will see lots of hard, bare soil and some tethering posts.

It is a laid back spectacle. Get there at four in the afternoon and you’ll think the meet has been postponed. By 4.30pm, as visitors from Dubai and Abu Dhabi are arriving, the owners will be rolling up in their trucks, salaaming each other and downloading their prize bulls that have been bulked up to weigh over a ton, thanks to a high carb diet of milk, honey and butter.

What is about to happen has been going on in this suburb of Al Ghurfa for hundreds of years. Bull butting is said to have been introduced by the Portuguese settlers between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Sometime about 5.00pm, men, women and children gather around the arena, standing, sitting on mats drinking coffee or watching from the safety of their strategically parked 4WDs.

When the action begins it is difficult for newcomers to tell what is going on as the instructions are bellowed in Arabic through a megaphone. Two men from each end of the arena will lead their bull by the snout, each holding the end of a rope that is threaded through the bull’s nose. There is an arena master who gets the bulls started somewhere in the middle of the pitch but umpiring bull butting is more unpredictable than refereeing a football match. There are no whistles, no scoreboard, no line umpires, no video referees and no cheer leaders.

The Brahman bulls lock horns and pit their strength against each other. The goal of the duel is for one of the bulls to butt the other out of the inner circle. The two bulls are only in the arena for 2-3 minutes before the round is concluded. Sometimes a bull will retreat, leaving the other with a clear cut victory. More often than not it is deemed a draw when there is no clear winner.

Blowing a whistle would be useless for stopping the bout but if the two handlers with each bull do not part their charges because one of the bulls is on a roll, a team of dishdashered men spring into action, sprint across the mud and haul like crazy on a rope that all has the semblance of a tug of war. Pulling these massive mobile magnets apart is no mean feat and sometimes when separated, a rampaging bull might make a final charge and launch its horns at the opponent’s flank.

Fujairah bull butting (mnattah in Arabic) is fortunately not a blood sport that concludes with a 50, 000 dirham carcass in the arena, yet sometimes there are spots of blood apparent on the bull’s head. This sport is primarily about the bulls, unlike the Spanish bull fighting in which the matadors skillfully evade and finally conquer their beast.

Part of the spectator suspense in Fujairah is created by the fact that people are not protected by fences or seated in raised grand stands and occasionally the bulls fail to see the exit and canter towards the people, who in turn scamper to their cars.

In an article for Xpress News, Mohammed N. Al Khan writes of the skill of the arena master:

The arena masters, acting as umpires, stand inches away from the locked horns. Armed with only a switch cane, their job is to entice the bulls to fight while making sure they don’t get tangled in their reins – and to keep the bulls away from the crowd.

"You have to stay on your toes – a bull can easily kill a man with a single hit," said Hamdan Bin Sultan, one of only two men brave enough to act as arena master in Fujairah.

"I picked up the sport from my father, spending most of my life with these animals. I feel comfortable being near them even in combat," he said.

Bin Sultan, a 28-year-old military officer, has been an arena master for ten years. He also owns and trains ten bulls. His fellow arena master, Mohammad Fares, has six.

"I have two kids, they are still young, but soon I hope to pass on to them what my father taught me," said Bin Sultan. "It’s a dying tradition and I want to keep it alive, but it’s up to God whether they have the affinity for it or not."

The ancient art of bull butting expresses something of the essence of Fujairah. There is history, rural aroma, physicality, dust and dirt, disorganization, unpredictability and community fervour.

Further descriptions of bull butting in Fujairah can be found at these links:
‘The Fujairah Factor’, Gulf News, 11 December 2004.
‘Bullish Tendencies’, Gulf News, 4 August 2005.
‘Raging Bulls Lock Horns in the UAE’, Xpress, 26 November 2007.
‘Traditional Bull Butting’ Fujairah Tourism, a 17 second video clip.

Dr Geoff Pound

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fujairah Oil Terminal Being Extended

AMEINFO is reporting today the expansion of the oil terminal in Fujairah, which comes on the top of earlier expansion plans.

Must be getting the capacity ready for the positive oil tests in Fujairah.

Image: Vopak Oil Terminal

Thursday, November 22, 2007

New Hotel in Fujairah Anticipating Tourist Boom

Rendezvous Hotels & Resorts International (Rendezvous) will open in late 2008 a 4-star hotel in Fujairah.

The hotel, to be named the Marque Hotel, Fujairah, will be managed by Rendezvous under The Marque Collection of Hotels brand.

Rendezvous' Chief Executive, Mr. Alan Featherby, says, “We are delighted to be working with the developers, the Al Safeer Group of Companies. We are confident that the Marque Hotel, Fujairah will be well received within the region and capitalise upon the forecasted growth of the UAE tourism industry."

UAE real estate developer and retailer, Al Safeer Group of Companies LLC will incorporate the Marque Hotel, Fujairah into a new distinctive shopping complex in Al Sharia which is well located at the fringe of the CBD of Fujairah, adjacent to the beach and a short distance to the Port. The 4-story hotel will sit above the complex and will boast 217 rooms.

For more information check this link:
‘Rendezvous Hotels enters Middle East Market’, Travel Daily News, November 22, 2007.

Image: Rendezvous Singapore

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Colours of Fujairah

A review of the worthwhile book entitled The Colours of Fujairah has been posted at this site:

Reviewing Books and Movies

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Front cover of The Colours of Fujairah

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fujairah Oil Testing Update

CNN gives this update on SulphCo and its testing of oil in Fujairah.

“As reported earlier, in successive test runs in Fujairah on a medium crude (32.9 API, 1.6% sulphur by content) the new ISM experimental probe achieved a reduction in sulphur by content more than two and one half times greater than that produced by the SulphCo(R) Series II probe.”

"While these preliminary results are encouraging, bear in mind that the ISM probes are first generation prototypes and further work will be required to develop the kind of consistent performance necessary for commercial applications," said Dr Ryan. "But we are very pleased with the initial results and believe this technology is a perfect fit for our Sonocracking(TM) technology. By the same token, we will continue to utilize and refine the SulphCo(R) Series II probe design in parallel, as that design has also produced significant API shifts and sulphur reduction in initial testing in Fujairah."

I hope the oil is clearer than this report but it seems like initial examinations are positive but you can’t count your barrels until the fat lady has sung.

The full report is at:

CNN Money ‘SulphCo Executes Technology Transfer Agreement With Industrial Sonomechanics’, 15 November 2007.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Media Growth Forecasted for Fujairah’s Creative City

Habib Hamoud, CEO of Fujairah Media Inc. (FMI), at a Press conference held recently (14 November 2007) announced the following:

* Twenty-four new satellite TV channels will go on air from the Creative City of the Fujairah Media Free Zone over the next three months, raising the total number of operating channels form the city to 37.

* Many applications have been received from the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, France and Lebanon for launching TV channels from the FMI.

* Agreements for licensing more than 100 TV networks were also inked.

* The FMI is planning to organize a festival of heritage, environmental and natural documentaries.

* A media training academy will be set up in coordination with France and a number of international companies.

* The 4,000-square-metre Creative City will have seven zones for radio, TV, Press, technology, media training academy, theatre and cinema.

* The Creative City will be completed in two years with the cost of the first phase itself running into $55 million.

* The city will recruit 4,000 to 6,000 professionals.

Clarifying the Purpose of Creativity City
Affirmation was expressed and questions were raised when the Creativity City was announced earlier in the year.

At the launch there was little detail given but I said the following in an article at the time (see above link) about the prospect of great creativity:
“If they get it right, there will be scientists who eradicate AIDS, economists that make Darfur’s poverty history, diplomats that bring peace to Iraq, environmentalists that achieve global cooling and poets that inspire the world emerging from Fujairah’s ‘Creativity City.’”

I asked: “How much creativity will go into creating this space? Will ‘Creativity City’ be merely a trendy name for a business area or an environment that is serious about fostering constructive creativity?”

Benefits and Questions about the Media Blitz
The new development looks good news for people in the media, writing and theatre business. It will be good for employment in the eastern region.

But twenty-four TV channels!! Sponsored by several of the Gulf countries. In what languages? Aimed at which audiences? This is a huge increase of television channels especially when those with a basic TV package can already get hundreds of feeds from the Gulf countries and from stations from all over the world.

If the potential TV channels will be supplied by many international countries companies how many will focus on Fujairah news, Fujairah happenings, Fujairah current affairs and Fujairah drama or will this move simply add to the glut of programs, many of which look and sound the same as each other?

Source: Salah Al Debarky, ‘24 New TV Channels from Fujairah Creative City’, Khaleej Times, 15 November 2007.

Dr Geoff Pound

Check out the story about the international media thrust into the UAE at:
Experiencing the Emirates

Image: Satellite TV channels.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fujairah International Airport Developments

New plans have recently been announced for the expansion of airport facilities in Fujairah.

Link to the report:

‘Fujairah International Airport, Europe Aviation Sign MOU for Facilities Maintenance’, Business Intelligence-Middle East, 16 November 2007

Image: Fujairah International Airport.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fujairah: Fly Fishing Capital of the UAE

The Al Bawaba news service is promoting the Fly-Fishing Academy in Fujairah

Here is the news statement:

In Brief
Fujairah’s Famed Fly-Fishing Academy Re-opens for the Sporting Season
Le Méridien Al Aqah Welcomes Amateurs and Professionals to Participate on the Open Waters
Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort is once again confirming the popularity of water sports with GCC residents by announcing the mark of its renowned Fly Fishing Academy, opening just in time for the impending sporting season in December 2007.

Fly fishing is a seasonal activity which requires a great deal of skill and patience.

Run under the aegis of acclaimed fisherman Martin James, the Fujairah Salt Water Fly Fishing Academy teaches traditional angling method in which artificial flies are tied out of materials such as fur and feather onto a hook to imitate naturally occurring food. Rods are generally light while the lines are heavy, providing the perfect weight and momentum for casting.

Situated on the dramatic stretch of coastline adjacent to the Hajar Mountains, the Academy is, according to James, perfectly situated:
“With its densely populated and flat waters, the Gulf is perfect for this style of fishing,” said James.
“Moreover, Fujairah, in contrast to Dubai and the windy West Coast, is particularly suitable,” he added.

James, a proud recipient of the eminent Lord Mason’s Illuminated Scroll award - the most prestigious recognition within the angling world - has never traveled without his rod and since his first visit to the UAE in 1992, has been enthralled by the seas surrounding the Gulf. With his expertise throughout the years, his tutorials offer anglers of all abilities the necessary insight and expert tuition required for the sport.

“The equipment required for fly fishing is minimal and is consequently an ideal pursuit for tourists,” James continued.
“Unlike more conventional methods of angling, fly fishing is less messy and does not involve live bait but a hook covered in silk furs which, when combined with an expert cast, imitates a bait fish.”

James is also encouraging both women and children to take part in this year’s activity, as the sport is not physically extensive and nor does it require additional strength when angling, “I am there to offer help and expertise at all times. Don’t be afraid to ask any question. All participants will have my undivided attention at all times”, commented James.

The academy offers a range of courses and expert tuition and covers all aspects of the sport, from the various methods of tying knots, to the mechanics of casting and the use of floating, sinking and intermediate lines. The course includes one night’s accommodation at Le Méridien Al Aqah, with rates starting from AED 1,650. It also includes a half day classroom session, dinner with Martin and a five hour fishing Charter in the deep Blue Indian Ocean. The program is scheduled to run from December 12th to December 17th. Registration deadline for this hooking sport is December 1st, 2007.

“It’s an addictive activity,” said Patrick Antaki, General Manager, Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort.

“Since the academy’s opening, I have been captivated by the sport and I am already getting my rod ready in anticipation,” Antaki concludes.

The full article can be found at Al Bawaba, 15 November 2007.

I wrote about Fly Fishing earlier in this year in this article, with a similar title: Fujairah: Fishing capital of the UAE

This article also has a link to discovering more about Martin James, why he likes fishing in Fujairah and photographs of the fish that he and others have caught.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Martin James with a bonito caught in Fujairah waters (photo courtesy of Martin’s web site).

Fujairah is Fog Free While UAE is Blanketed in Smog

A report today states that a major fog (which is a euphemism for smog) has blanketed much of the United Arab Emirates, disrupting flight schedules, causing hazards on the roads (where visibility is in some places down to 100 metres) and, one could also add, increasing the health risks for residents and tourists.

At this time Fujairah has escaped the blanket of smog, probably due in part to it being shielded by the Hajar Mountains that create a ‘smog screen’ for low lying air pollutants and also due to the coastal breezes rolling in from the Indian Ocean.

Such an escape from smog bolsters Fujairah and the East Coast’s reputation of being 100% natural and a place where one can breathe in more deeply than in the other emirates.

Sadly, this is not always the experience of the locals. Fujairah has its own problems with dust from the quarries. When the winds are blowing the wrong way, Fujairah residents can see the thick particles in the air and many complain of sore eyes and throats. It is a common experience of those new to Fujairah, before eyes, noses and throats have had a chance to acclimatize.

Check out where the UAE ranks in air quality and ponder the relationship between pollution, health and why the major cities of the UAE rank only at 58 in the world for Quality of Living.

To check out weather comparisons between UAE cities and forecasts see:
Fujairah Weather

Smog Report:
‘Foggy Days’, Gulf News, 14 November 2007.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The two photos displayed were taken recently within an hour of each other on the road between Dubai and Fujairah. The first photo of the polluted sky was taken twenty minutes after leaving the Dubai International Airport, on the road near the Sharjah Scout Camp. The second was taken at Masafi, looking towards the Hajar Mountains and Fujairah’s purer air.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No Bread in Fujairah at Rising Time of Knead

The flour prices are rising,
The labour costs are rising,
The transport costs are rising,
The tempers are rising because,
The bread is not rising.

The dispute involves the Consumer Protection department which checks out each bakery’s price list, which is a slow process when bakeries are seeking to increase their prices to meet their overhead costs.

A number of bakeries have been ordered to roll back their prices and the bakers are protesting by ceasing to provide any rolls.

Customers are going without their daily bread for the second day as bakeries protest by stopping supply to the grocery shops.

A full report can be read at this link:
Fuad Ali, ‘Bakery Protest Keeps Bread Off Fujairah Shelves’, Gulf News, 14 November 2007.

Geoff Pound

Searching Fujairah

Don’t forget to use the Search Blog function at the top left of this blog site.

Search for topics to do with Fujairah and Sharjah-East Coast like:

A Al Maktoum, Al Aqah, A day in the life…

B Bread, Birds, Al Bidya, Books, Beaches

C Cyclone, Cultural events, Camping, Creativity City

D Dibba, Dairy Farm, Dress Code

E East Coast, Ecology, Experiencing the Emirates web site

F Facebook, Fish, fishermen, Fahrenheit

G Gonu, Gillay Tunnel, Photo Gallery, Tourism Goals, Google Earth

H Hotels, Halcrow Tunnels, Humidity

I Information

J Jet Ski

K Kalba, Khor Kalba

L Le Meridien

M Maps, Municipality, Monodrama, Mangrove Forest

N National

O Oman, Oil

P Pictures, Photographs

Q Al Aqah

R Roads, Recycling, Rotana

S Stingrays, Schools, Sharjah, Scooters, Shopping

T Tourism, Trees, Temperatures


V Visiting the Emirates, Visitor Centres

W Winds



Z Zayed, Sheikh Zayed

Geoff Pound

Image: Searching Fujairah

Many articles with a Fujairah flavor are on an older site:


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bread Shortage in Fujairah causes Tempers to Rise

The Gulf News reports today:

“Residents in Fujairah have been left without bread after a number of bakeries stopped supply to grocery shops over a price dispute with the Fujairah Municipality.

“Small bread makers from the East Coast took the drastic measure after the municipality ordered them to rollback bread prices. Recently, bakeries raised the price of a Lebanese bread to Dh3, a 50 fils increase.”

To read about the price increases, the bread shortages and the angry consumer reactions go to this link:

Fuad Ali, ‘Bread to Cost 20% More from Next Week’ Gulf News, 13November 2007

Image: Bread rolls (Google Images)

New Website for H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The website of the Ruler of Dubai has recently been revamped.

It contains some special Fujairah Features including:

Video Clip of Cabinet Meeting in Fujairah (2007)
Photo of Cabinet Members Swimming in Fujairah (2007)
Report on UAE Cabinet Members meeting in Fujairah (2007)
Mohammed Visits Fujairah (2006)
Dubai Ruler Receives New Fujairah Crown Prince (2007)

Put ‘Fujairah’ in the Search slot to discover many more reports.

Other Features
It contains these informative features:

Latest News (events and sporting highlights)
History of the Al Maktoum family and the UAE
Biographical Articles and poems
Library of Videos and Photos
Maktoum awards
History of the UAE
Tourism Information

And much more.

The web site address in English is Sheikh Mohammed

The web site address in عَرَبيْ (Arabic) is Sheikh Mohammed

Image: Front Page of New Website

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fujairah Water Activities: I’d Like to See That!

The recently announced tourism goals for Fujairah and the east coast highlighted one of the region’s greatest assets when it said there would be the ‘maximizing of the beaches’.

This is exactly what the hotels along the coastline are doing. When the Fujairah Rotana Hotel opened earlier this year, it highlighted its proximity to the water and they advertised their long list of water activities.

At the World Travel Market (WTM) held this week (12-15 November) in London, Le Méridien Al Aqah hotel will highlight “the restorative benefits of Fujairah’s natural resources” and its location “perched on the edge of the Indian Ocean and focused on total wellness for guests through the use of natural and marine elements.”

Patrick Antaki, General Manager says, “Guest surveys have revealed that proximity to the water is among the key reasons for visiting Al Aqah and at WTM, we are highlighting the ways in which we are integrating the Indian Ocean more closely with our overall guest experience, whether through spa relaxation and wellness or dining by the sea.”

But not all tourists and Fujairah residents want to stay at a hotel. Those coming to Fujairah for a day often don’t want to pay the high price of using hotel facilities, including the water equipment. Many who live in Fujairah city may not want to travel the 45 minutes up the coastline to the Al Aqah, super hotels.

It is good to see the enterprise of the owners of the Al Shatha Scooter Rental (see the article) now operating on the northern-most beach of Kalba.

There are possibly other activities (boat trips, diving etc.) advertised at places like the Fujairah Marina but these are not always visible to the casual day tripper arriving on the east coast. [If you own or know of a water activity on the Fujairah-Kalba coastline please add the information in a comment below]

It would be attractive if there was the emergence of a variety of other water sports available to the public—for adults and children. These might include fishing trips, boat cruises, water skiing, wake boards, sailing, pedalos, kayaks, windsurfing and lessons and safety equipment (life jackets etc.) to boot.

Geoff Pound

Image: Windsurfing.

Fujairah and Kalba Water Scooters, Personal Water Craft, Jet Skis

Recently a new water activity has appeared on the Fujairah coast line in which members of the public can hire Water Scooters, also known as Personal Water Craft (PWC) and Jet Skis.

The Al Shatha Scooter Rental is operating on the northern-most beach of Kalba so if you are coming from the Fujairah Corniche, head south towards Kalba and when you go through the roundabout into Kalba it is across the road on the beach, marked by an advertising board.

The Al Shatha Scooter Rental company has commenced with six scooters. The hire charge is 90 Dhs for 30 minutes and 150 Dhs for 60 minutes.

The business is managed by Noushad who can be contacted on 050 5896050 for information, bookings and up-to-the-moment prices. The scooters can be hired every day and in the weekend, bookings are essential.

Water Scooters have been a controversial innovation in many parts of the world because of the danger that they present to swimmers and because of the noise pollution. The municipality at Kalba has zoned this end of the beach for Water Scooters and prohibited swimming to avoid dangerous collisions. The noise seems to be muffled on these new models.

Geoff Pound

Image: Water Scooters on the Fujairah—Kalba coastline; Noushad the manager.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Shopping and Retail Therapy in Fujairah and the UAE

A Gulf News article reports the shopping habits of people in the UAE and the way using the credit card changes the mood, becomes addictive and is a regular (and expensive) therapy.

The entire article is at this link:

Staff Reporters, ‘Shopping Around for a Feel Good Mood’, Gulf News, 10 November 2007.

Image: I like to buy clothes ... but sometimes I also just like to go window-shopping for relaxation, says Joy Regio (Photo Gulf News)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fujairah and the Eastern Coast: Enjoying the Great Outdoors

One of the delights of the eastern emirates, especially in these cooler months (October through to March), is to explore and experience the great outdoors.

These are the months when the 4WDs come into their own and they can be seen up in the mountains and around the beaches.

These seem to be few laws or signs stopping campers from pitching their tent for the night.

The top photo on this posting gives an idea of the way people often camp on Kalba beach. This is an idyllic spot with the mangrove wetlands in the immediate background (300 metres away) and the glorious Hajar Mountains further in the distance.

The second shot is the view from the tent at dawn. This is a safe place for a swim before casting the line out to catch your breakfast. What the photos don’t convey is the gentle sound of the waves to lull you off to sleep and be the first sound that you hear in the morning.

It doesn’t get much better than this!

Geoff Pound

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fujairah Schools Receive Bad Report

H.H. Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai recently said on ABC's 60 Minutes that his goal is that Dubai and the UAE become first in the world in every good thing. It is clear, however, that the UAE has a long way to go toward reaching that goal in the sphere of education.

There is an alarming series of articles in the Gulf News this month that highlight the poor facilities (low budgets, a lack of basic facilities, inadequate air-conditioning, overcrowded classrooms) that exist in many UAE schools, especially in areas outside of the two main cities.

One Fujairah School
According to one statement, a school in Fujairah (before the appointment of its latest Principal) would have received a School Report like this:

* Basic Necessities-Fail
* Projectors and Video Equipment-Fail
* Laboratory Equipment-Fail
* Water Coolers-Fail—Not Applicable (Since this report the Red Crescent has come to the rescue)
* Sports Hall-Fail—Not applicable because this is non-existent. The School Yard is often too hot for Sports Education and for students to play at morning break and lunch time.
* Air Conditioners-Fail
* Door Handles-Fail—All are broken
* Financial Resourcing Fail. This is hopelessly inadequate. The school needs at least 300,000 Dhs to bring it to an acceptable standard
* School Principal-A+ Recently arrived and is doing an excellent job bringing the school into the twentieth century [one century at a time]. She spent the entire budget in the first two days on improving the basics.

General Comments
This school and many others in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah are well below par. A Ministry of Education official recently said that several schools in these two emirates were deemed unsafe and had to be closed down.

Schools that are unsafe! Schools in a country where temperatures reach the mid to late 40s having to depend on the Red Crescent to provide them with water coolers!

H.H. Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai established in May 2007 the ‘Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation’ with an endowment of $10 billion and then he announced last month a number of goals to enhance education in the UAE and the Arab world.

Many of these goals relate to tertiary education but the Shaikh said this in his speech to the ‘Knowledge Symposium’:

“In the implementation of all projects and programmes, the Foundation will accept nothing less than the best of international standards in production, quality, and performance.”

Developing education at the tertiary level will be in vain unless the foundations of learning in the UAE are made world class at the primary and secondary levels. The grave issue that currently exists, in which many UAE children go to schools with low grade facilities and who study in an environment that is not conducive to learning and encouraging a zest for education, must be urgently addressed.

It was first said centuries ago in the Middle East that one must ‘go the second mile’. The alarming school report from Fujairah is a timely reminder that in all spheres, including education, one must go the first mile before one can go the second mile.

Geoff Pound

Image: Alarming Report Card on UAE Schools

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Municipal Recycling Facilities in Fujairah: I’d Like to See That!

So far in the Fujairah: I’d Like to See That! series, I have suggested several things, not out of anger or frustration but to make a contribution to the dreaming process.

I have expressed dreams for the following:
* A Fujairah Facebook Network
* More trees
* More playgrounds and park benches (this dream has been partly fulfilled)
* Some Good Maps on Fujairah and how to get to the east coast
* At least one Fujairah Visitor Centre but ideally one at each gate to the city
* A growing photographic gallery of Fujairah’s landmarks
* Greater collaboration between Sharjah-East Coast & Fujairah especially in tourism
* More books published (Arabic and English) with a Fujairah flavor
* A growing range of good video clips and short films on Fujairah

Any Ideas?
I would love to hear and post the dreams that others have for this region so if you have an idea, let me know.

Recycling Facilities
It would be good for the residents and good for the environment if we had a Municipality sponsored Recycling Facility in Fujairah and along the east coast.

Mention was made recently in a Gulf News article of the lack of any state-owned recycling facility but it gave a good reason why this is urgently needed:

“According to an EAD report, waste production per person per year in the emirates average between 547kg and 766kg, making the UAE one of the highest waste producing countries in the world. Though the UAE was an environmentally conservative society, the current trend is the 'use and throw' culture of urban societies, mentioned the report.”

The recently convened meeting of UAE leaders from various sectors of the country were seeking to respond to the news that the UAE had the greatest ecological footprint in the world. One would think that recycling facilities would be an essential part of any plan to rectifying this reputation.

A further Gulf News report highlighted how students and educators are leading the way in the UAE and it focused on the recycling facilities at the HCT-Women’s College in Fujairah. A story was posted earlier in the year when this good initiative was launched and the College is continuing its commitment through a new mobile phone recycling program, linked with EnviroFone. There are understandable difficulties about public access to a College in order to deposit one’s bottles, cans and papers and only the ardent environmentalists will do this.

What is needed is government leadership and municipality sponsored recycling facilities with appropriate recycling bins to every residence with a pick up at the places where people currently dispose of their rubbish.

For Fujairah, having recently announced tourism goals and plans to showcase its beautiful landscape, one would think that recycling facilities would be at the top of the agenda.

The environmental challenge is one which requires cooperation at all levels for both the implementation of the services and the consistent education which cultivates wholesome green habits. It has been good to see educational institutions showing the way. It would also be heartening to see a bold commitment by federal and local governments. Furthermore imams need to be teaching the truths in the Koran and other religious leaders explaining the way that all the ancient scriptures view the environment as a gift and humans as caretakers.

Geoff Pound

Image: An example of colour-coded bins for recycling different waste products.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fujairah: Dreams Do Come to Pass!

In one of the first in the series of postings, ‘Fujairah, I’d Like to See That’, I said that I would like to see some good park benches along the corniche, like they have in Kalba.

Just this week twenty new park benches were placed in the revamped playground area overlooking the Fujairah shoreline!

You may also have spotted the park bench in a recent (4 November 2007) blog posting of a couple from Dubai (that’s one of the visitors in the photo displayed).

The comments of these tourists include this one: “The Kalba Corniche was much more manicured [than the Fujairah corniche].” The same statements are made by Fujairah residents who wonder why less money is spent in their emirate on grass, trees, quality park furniture, playground equipment, fences and street lights.

Still, the dream of some park benches along the Fujairah corniche has been fulfilled.

Keep dreaming!

Geoff Pound

Image: New park bench with a Dubai tourist putting it to good use. These are two-seater benches—smaller than the Kalba variety.

Videos on Fujairah & the East Coast: I’d Like to See That!

After getting some feedback on the Halcrow videos of their UAE projects posted at the Fujairah in Focus site here and on the Experiencing the Emirates site here and here, I have been thinking it would be great to have an ever-growing site where videos showing events and good things to see in Fujairah and the UAE east coast can be easily found, downloaded and viewed.

Associated with this idea is the dream that a wide range of good video clips would be developed showcasing the delights of Fujairah—its fishing, bull butting, water sports, environmental spots, archaeological sights etc. Perhaps this might be one of the goals of the media centre in the forthcoming Creativity City in Fujairah.

Here are a few videos with a Fujairah and East Coast flavour.
Apart from the first one, most of the others have been taken by amateurs on their Camcorders. Hopefully their viewing will encourage others to take more quality footage of specific places and happenings.

Fujairah Tourism Video on YouTube
Fujairah Beach-Faseel (not the best quality)
Road Trip to Fujairah
Dubai (Mall of the Emirates) plus road trip to Fujairah
Kalba Road and the Gillay Tunnel
Kids Fishing in Boat of Fujairah
Children Playing on Fujairah beach
Fujairah International Marine Club
Diving in Fujairah Waters

If you know of any other video clips you would be happy to add to this list please send me the link.

Geoff Pound

Monday, November 5, 2007

Kalba Road and Gillay Tunnel on Video

Halcrow, according to its blurb, is responsible for “planning, design and management services for infrastructure development worldwide.”

Halcrow builds airports, marinas, roads, bridges and tunnels.

The Halcrow site contains some interesting short videos of some of its projects around the world. There are several with a UAE focus.

One of the routes for leaving Fujairah for Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hatta etc., is the new Kalba Road which goes through the Gillay tunnel (thanks to Halcrow).

Check out the video the highlights the Kalba road and the Gillay tunnel at this link:

Halcrow Tunnels

Image: On the Kalba Road.

Books on Fujairah

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai recently (October 28, 2007) shared more than a dozen plans which are part of the $10 billion education initiative to revamp the education process in the Arab world.

In this speech he challenged Arab publishers and translators to publish 1,000 new books every year. Addressing publishers at one of the sessions, he said they would get "full support and attention" of the foundation.
"Are you ready to translate and publish a thousand books a year? Then buckle up, and let's go," Shaikh Mohammad said. "We are ready for the challenge."

I am not sure where the well-rounded figure of 1,000 books a year comes from but this annual target must have warmed the hearts of Arab writers and translators.

I wonder how many of these books might come from the emirate of Fujairah?

I don’t know how many books exist in Arabic that have a Fujairah focus but Amazon.com, with a search for Fujairah, gives an idea of what books exist in English and other languages.

At the time of searching 269 listings showed up, although a closer look reveals only 20 books or digital downloads (do these count in the Sheikh’s reckoning?) on subjects such as gas market trends, oil trading, petrochemicals, archaeology, bunkering, refineries, oil terminals, desalination shrimp farming and only one book which is an overview viz. Fujairah: An Arabian Jewel.

The rest of the search results are interesting one line references to Fujairah in travel books and volumes on piracy, cruise shipping, radio stations etc.

So there’s plenty of scope for writers to ‘buckle up’ and write good quality books that might be translated into Arabic, thus fulfilling the Sheikh’s literary dream.

Geoff Pound

Image: Fujairah: An Arabian Jewel by Peter Hellyer.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Birds of Fujairah and the UAE East Coast

A review of the recently republished book, A Photographic Guide to Birds of the Middle East, has been posted on the site, Reviewing Books and Movies.

An article on ‘Birds in the UAE’ has also been put on the site, Experiencing the Emirates.

The book, Birds of the Middle East, recognizes the crucial importance of Fujairah and the east coast as possessing major sites for watching the rich and varied bird population in this region.

The main bird watching areas in any country will include coastal wetlands, freshwater wetlands, deserts, woodlands, mountains, agricultural areas, towns and cities and the seashore. Fujairah possesses many of these different areas and often in close proximity to one another. This gives a clue into why some have called Fujairah the ‘bird watching capital of the UAE’.

Birds of the Middle East gives prominence to the areas of Khor Kalba (just south of Fujairah and near the Omani border), the Masafi Wadi, the Fujairah National Dairy Farm (Dibba), the Fujairah Corniche (especially near the Gurfa Breakwater on the boundary of Fujairah and Kalba, Sharjah) and many mountain spots.

As I have encouraged in the posting on ‘Birds in the UAE’, check out the web site Birding the United Arab Emirates, look at the wonderful photos and the This Month So Far’ with the list of birds sighted in Fujairah’s popular bird watching areas.

Geoff Pound

Image: The Indian Roller bird is regularly seen around Fujairah. Last month a group of Bird Watchers to the Fujairah National Dairy Farm in Dibba spotted 15 Indian Rollers in one outing.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fujairah Weather

Fujairah Weather Overview
Many of the tourist blurbs play down the high summer temperatures and summarize Fujairah weather in this way:

“Fujairah has the most pleasant weather lasting 6 months between October and March. The weather is almost always sunny and sometimes cloudy with temperature not exceeding 25 degrees Celsius and rain is expected from time to time.”

In the summer, temperatures get into the mid to late 40’s. From October to March the temperatures are generally very pleasant.

While the average rainfall in the UAE is 4 inches a year Fujairah receives a higher than average yearly rainfall (usually in the winter months) which makes the emirate good for crop production.

Fujairah can be very humid and unpleasant during the summer, although September is generally regarded as the most humid month of the year.

There are occasional sand storms during the winter.

Fujairah Weather Forecasts
There are a range of online weather information sources and sites which give a three to five day forecast. Unfortunately, if you check out the weather for Fujairah for any day you will probably find several discrepancies regarding temperatures and wind directions!

Here are some of the online weather information sites for Fujairah.

AME Info Temp, Pressure, Humidity, Visibility, wind etc.
BBC 5 Day Forecast plus info on sun, temps, wind, visibility, humidity, bar. pressure (these can be sent to you by RSS feed )
UAE Ministry of Commun. & Met Dept Basic info plus marine, tides, satellite imagery, cloud forecast
Weather Forecast plus temperatures, moon, barometer, humidity
Weather Stations Google Map & Temps
Weather Underground 5 day forecast, humidity, wind, moon

Geoff Pound

Image: Cloud Forecast map from the Met Office.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Stingray Threat in Fujairah Waters

An article recently in the Gulf News was warning swimmers of the current stingray threat in the waters of the Arabian Gulf, off Dubai. It suggested the longing for warmth was bringing the rays in close.

The threat may also relate to the waters of the eastern coastline. Spotting this article reminded me of a visit along the Kalba beach last week. We saw a huge number of stingrays that had been netted by fishermen and left unwanted on the beach, along with some porcupine fish.

I took some pictures (below) of the stingrays. They are white underneath and brown on top which serves as a camouflage against the sandy bottom. These rays were all small, about the size of a breakfast plate.

Helpful advice about avoiding stingrays is in the Gulf News article:

Emmanuelle Landais, ‘Swimmers Warned of Stingray Threat’, Gulf News, 31 October 2007.

Image: Stingrays on Kalba beach last week.

No Significant Signs of Cyclone ‘05a’ Approaching Fujairah

In the twilight this morning, looking down toward Oman, the sky looked dark and angry.

No real wind to speak of but as the sun rose its rays lit up the dark clouds in a fiery blaze.

The word is that the cyclone has been weakening over the south of Oman, has been downgraded to a tropical depression and is not likely to be a potent force like its predecessor, Cyclone Gonu that arrived in June 2007.

The name of this cyclone was ‘05a’. How uncreative can you get! The list of names like Gonu, Helen, Chapala etc has been worked out until 2009 so how did ‘05a’ receive a name that was so unimaginative?

Geoff Pound

Images: The Kalba sky this morning, looking south to Oman.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Greater Sharjah and Fujairah Tourism Cooperation: I’d Like to See That!

Fujairah is situated only a few kilometers north of Sharjah’s town of Kalba and the uninitiated probably don’t notice when they drive across the border from one emirate to the other or when the Fujairah beach becomes part of the Sharjah coastline.

While most of Sharjah revolves around the city of Sharjah, near Dubai, there are odd areas of the Sharjah emirate within the emirate of Fujairah. These include the enclaves of Dibba al Hisn (Dibba is divided between Sharjah, Fujairah and Oman) and Kalba, both of which have been traditional ports, giving Sharjah strategic land and water access to both the Arabian Gulf (west) and the Gulf of Oman (east).

The emirates of Fujairah and Sharjah have their own government and municipality and the laws are slightly different. For example, in Sharjah there is a ban on the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol and there is a stricter enforcement of the UAE decency laws introduced in 2001 regarding a conservative dress code for men and women and the prohibition on ‘unmarried men and women being alone in public places, or in suspicious times or circumstances’ (No Exceptions in Sharjah’s Decency Laws’, Gulf News, 29 September 2001). These differences are part of the rich history and tradition of the two emirates and must be respected.

For the sake of the tourists to the eastern coast, it would be good to see a closer cooperation between Sharjah and Fujairah, especially regarding the marketing of all that the two states have to offer.

It would be pleasing to see this growing link between the two emirates being referred to in future announcements of Fujairah’s Tourism Goals. The Sharjah-East Coast and Fujairah travel pages at present display little connection to each other and one might conclude that these two states are totally different countries.

One practical place to pursue such collaboration is with the production of some tourist brochures and tourist web pages that incorporate the best things to see on the east coast, whether they be in Fujairah or Sharjah. This could involve creating some half day, whole day and weekend tour suggestions that people can use as a template to plot their own travel. It seems unthinkable to entice people to see the delights of Fujairah (the fort, the museum, the bull butting, the beaches etc.) without also encouraging them to walk the glorious beaches of Kalba, to explore the Kalba fort or to see the mangrove forest and wetlands of Khor Kalba, which are among the most important ecological areas on the Arabian Peninsula. Any move to establishing some Visitor Centres, which would distribute travel brochures, should ideally be made together.

To forge such cooperation in tourism is not only in the interests of tourists and residents but it would continue the spirit of Sheikh Zayed, who embodied the values of consultation and consensus, who surrendered the rights of the individual and the state in order to benefit all, and who encouraged his people to do everything humanly possible to work together for common goals. (See ‘Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan: A Special Tribute’, UAE Interact, 2005)

Geoff Pound

Image: The rare white-collared kingfisher in the mangrove forest and wetlands of Khor Kalba. Picture courtesy of this site.

New but Weakened Cyclone to Hit Fujairah

The Khaleej Times reported:

“The tropical cyclone formed in the Arabian Sea, named 05a, has weakened and will not affect the UAE, Met officials said yesterday.”

“According to the Meteorological Department in Abu Dhabi, the cyclone is currently moving towards Yemen and [the] African region and will not have any impact on the UAE.”

“However, the officials said, the cyclone is likely to bring rain and thunder showers tomorrow in some parts of Fujairah and Oman, while clouds are forecast in Northern region of the UAE and rains in eastern region of the country the same day.”

For more detail on the cyclone and how Cyclone Gonu has shaped people’s minds:

Staff Reporters, ‘Cyclone Won’t Affect UAE’, Khaleej Times, 1 November 2007.

Image: Gonu back in June 2007.