Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

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.

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