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.”
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.”
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 The Siji was described as “the new kid on the Fujairah hotel scene [this statement is way out of date in 2007] but is “a soulless place geared toward a business clientele.”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.
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.
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.”
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