Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Fuad Ali has covered an important story today (18 June 2008) in the Gulf News that concerns new federal laws to control quarry and crushing companies.
The report issues from a seminar strategically located in Al Aqah, Fujairah and will have great implications for the stone industries in the eastern emirate.
The new regulations are designed to protect the environment and safeguard the health of workers and residents from quarry dust and noise.
The Minister of Environment and Water, Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd was reported as saying:
“All stone quarries and crushing companies must implement all aspects of the new environmental law within a year or face severe penalties.”
Federal and Local
The article concludes with this insightful statement:
“Dr Sultan Al Moadhen, Member of the Federal National Council and Chairman of the Provisional Committee for Monitoring Environmental Pollution, said the implementation of the environmental resolution must be enforced by the federal government and not left to local authorities who - he said - proved to be ‘unreliable’.”
Implications for the Marine Environment?
The federal government today has implemented important legislation and controls for quarries and crushers and will not leave it to local authorities to police, enforce and prosecute offenders.
In view of the succession of oil dumpings this year into the Fujairah waters, with local authorities proving to be impotent in surveillance and prosecution, one would hope that the federal government will also implement tough new laws and penalties that will be effective in stopping the damage to the marine environment.
For the full report, including reactions from the different sectors see:
Fuad Ali, Quarries in UAE must follow new environmental law says minister, Gulf News, 18 June 2008.
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Quarry in Dibba, Fujairah.
Monday, June 16, 2008
“The chief executive of the United Arab Emirates Offset Program Bureau helps pair foreign defence contractors with local companies, with the goal of boosting the UAE's exports. The bureau has been pairing up multinational corporations with local companies since its inception in 1992.”
“The United Arab Emirate’s first fish farming business, Asmak, was conceived under the offset programme as part of a deal with Dassault, the French aerospace giant, to supply the Air Force with Mirage combat jets. Asmak exports sea bream to 15 countries around the world from its bases in Fujairah and Ras al Khaimah.”
“Offsets allow countries to recoup part of the costs of defence purchases, by requiring foreign contractors to contribute in some way to the purchasers’ economy. Often they help set up new companies through specialised training and a transfer of technology, with a requirement that the new company’s revenues over a seven-year period must equal 60 per cent of the value of the contract.”
“Overall, some 50 companies have been set up with the help of foreign defence contractors, and Dh8 billion has been channelled into the UAE economy as foreign direct investment. Most of the companies are valuable contributors to the UAE economy.”
No details reported on how many bream are sold to pay for a Mirage fighter jet.
Source: ‘Fish and Fighter Jets Pair up in the UAE’, Select Property (original report and link removed)
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Sea bream; Mirage jets.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
This photo and article appeared less than two days after this headline, ‘Fujairah Civic Chief Pledges Solutions’, The National, 14 June 2008.
It says: “Mr Hamoudi, who is originally from Dibba, a developing tourist haven, said the municipality would continue to look for ways to deal with [the] issue of frequent oil spills. ‘We’re studying new techniques to deal with these,’ he said.”
Here is a sample of the articles from many sources and spheres that have been written this year reporting the oil dumpings, seeking to understand the causes, analyzing the damage and suggesting solutions.
Following the 2008 Oil Dumping Trail:
More Oil for the Emirates-Spill Affects Tourism, Deeper Blue, 20 February 2008
Oil Damages Fujairah Beaches, Marine Life and Tourism, Fujairah in Focus, 20 February 2008.
Hotels Seek Strict Action on Oil Spill, Gulf News, 21 February 2008.
Spill Spells Trouble, 7 Days, 21 February 2008.
2nd Oil Spill for Emirates East Coast, Deeper Blue, 9 March 2008
Further Oil Spillages Call for Urgent Action, Fujairah in Focus, 11 March 2008
‘Oil Draining’ in Fujairah waters not ‘Oil Spills’, Experiencing the Emirates, 11 March 2008.
Monitor the Oil tankers and Keep our Beaches Clean, The National, 11 May 2008
Nissar Hoath, ‘Gulf Accounts for 75% of World’s Oil Spills,’ Emirates Business 24-7, 21 May 2008.
Gulf Holds World record for Oil Spills, Experiencing the Emirates, 21 May 2008.
Oil Spill Blackens Fujairah, The National, 2 June 2008.
Video: Oil washes up on Fujairah Beaches, The National, 3 June 2008
Oil Spills Threaten Beaches and Business, The National, 3 June 2008.
Oil Dumpers give authorities the slip, The National, 5 June 2008.
Another Oil Spill Hits East Coast of UAE, Gulf News, 10 June 2008
The Valentine Should Have its Day, The National, 11 June 2008.
Cheaper to Pay the Fine than Dispose of Waste, The National, 11 June 2008.
Spill Solution, The National, 11 June 2008.
Interactive: Cleaning up oil in Fujairah, The National, 12 June 2008.
Drilling Down into Oil Dumping Problem, Fujairah in Focus, 13 June 2008
Fujairah Civic Chief Pledges Solutions, The National, 14 June 2008.
Large Oil Slick Lines Coast near Fujairah, The National, 15 June 2008.
Eleventh Oil Slick in 2008 Covers East Coast beaches, Experiencing the Emirates, 15 June 2008.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: The oil on the beach and in the water today at Khor Fakkan.
There are a lack of maps, an inadequate naming of streets, an absence of street numbers and not a Zip (area) Code to be found.
Add to this the challenge of new roads being constructed every month.
Signage needs to be updated for the modern day Emirates.
Source: UAE residents say system needed to locate places in Emirates, Gulf News, 15 June 2008.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Fujairah, I’d Like to See That: Good Maps, Fujairah in Focus
Questions People are Asking about Fujairah, Fujairah in Focus
Fujairah Information, Fujairah in Focus
Fujairah on Google Earth, Fujairah in Focus
Directions from Dubai to Fujairah, Fujairah in Focus
Image: “Signage needs to be modernized for the modern day Emirates.”
Friday, June 13, 2008
Naylor has been covering the far-too-frequent oil slicks appearing on the Fujairah beaches this year but he has gone beyond the mere reporting of events, to the interviewing of the key players and an investigation ways that the oil dumping might be solved.
Recently The National has posted these informative stories:
Spill Solution, 11 June 2008
This editorial indicates that current monitoring methods are not working. Not one dumping has been traced to an oil tanker. No prosecutions! There is only one single satellite used for monitoring the region but this is old technology, obviously not reflecting the ‘can-do’ attitude of the modern Emirates. The article says that surveillance cannot be left to volunteers and passing ships. Who is going to blow the whistle on another ship captain? The editorial says that there have been offers of help made but the Fujairah officials have not shown any interest.
The Valentine Should Have its Day, 11 June 2008
Hugh Naylor reports the story of Andrey Malinin whose plane the Valentine is equipped with ultraviolet and infrared sensors that can easily detect the oil. It also has equipment to spray neutralizing chemicals needed to break up the oil in the waters. The Valentine has made almost daily flights to the UAE east coast but Malinin has been unable to convince the Fujairah authorities to allow him to monitor the coastline and pay his basic costs. Mr. Malinin is on standby but the Fujairah authorities are not acting and according to Malinin have been inaccessible. It is unfortunate that Fujairah authorities, despite being contacted, have not recognized the urgency, have not responded to this offer or come up with a more effective solution to combat this major environment catastrophe.
Interactive: Cleaning up the Oil in Fujairah, 12 June 2008
Take a look at this interactive. It is simple and informative, helping readers to see the connection between surveillance and clean-up and underscoring the need for urgency when an oil spill is detected. This interactive must be a first for a UAE newspaper and it illustrates the value of an online newspaper.
Oil Washes up on Fujairah Beaches, 3 June 2008.
This video posted earlier in the month gives a visual insight into the problem, especially as it relates to oil affecting waters and beaches adjacent to Fujairah coastland hotels. The interviews highlight the frustration that is being experienced by people earning a living on the coastline and why tourists have been discouraged to make Fujairah their resort destination.
Some of the questions still hanging and other observations include the following:
Why are the Fujairah authorities so inattentive to this problem and to offers of assistance when the current approach is ineffective, harming the environment and costing local hoteliers, diving companies thousands of dirhams in clean up procedures and loss of tourist and recreational revenue?
Why have Fujairah authorities not prosecuted any oil tanker captains? Have they not been able to link spill to tanker or are they reluctant to do anything to impede the oil business that is bringing enormous revenue to the Fujairah coffers? If there is an element of favouring this major industry there must be policing measures that are independent of the local authorities.
As oil is dumped in international and national waters and washes up on a coastline overseen by the Fujairah and Sharjah municipalities and UAE and Omani authorities, how can there be effective coordination of surveillance, prosecution and clean up which is clear and which incorporates the valuable input of all agencies? Legal input will also be essential to come up with a solution that appropriately links international and national laws.
The Valentine method is commendable but surveillance and cleaning up procedures must be in place 24 hours a day, taking photographs that will trace oil spills back to the tanker and which can be used in court for prosecutions. Satellite and plane surveillance will need to combine as part of the deterrence that will make rogue sea captains think again before they are tempted to dump oil slops into the briny.
The Malinin offer is seeking approval to monitor and be paid to do surveillance and aerial clean ups of the waters. But the clean up operation on the Fujairah foreshore and beaches is another task and it has been deemed the responsibility of hotels and diving companies. This is messy and it adds to the cost and frustration of local operators (See this article in The National). Who is responsible for cleaning up the waters and beaches where there are no hotels and diving companies? It appears that federal agencies get involved when an oil spill is of such magnitude that it is beyond the resources of a local municipality. The result of all these players can so easily lead to passing the buck, a slow reaction whenever there is a spill and an uneven standard in the cleanup operation. If the local emirate was responsible for the cleanup (not the hoteliers and diving companies), it might lead to much higher penalties for offending sea captains and oil companies (as deterrence and to recoup costs) and an effective method of policing and prosecution.
The team at The National must be congratulated for the high quality of their investigative journalism. Much has been uncovered. Questions still remain. Action must be taken. This is a major issue for Fujairah and the UAE that requires a comprehensive and urgent solution.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Andrey Malinin before the Valentine that is equipped and ready to go. Photo courtesy of The National.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
A recycling centre for paper, aluminium cans and plastic has opened up in Fujairah as part of the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA) proposal to open ten centres throughout the UAE, in partnership with Emirates Environmental Group (EEG).
EEG will operate and manage the ten proposed recycling centres. To date three have been opened at Al Hosn University in Abu Dhabi, American International School in Abu Dhabi and Global English High School in Al Ain, with the fourth opening at Our Own English High School in Fujairah.
A further six centres will open in the coming months across the rest of the UAE. The recycling centres are being set up in educational institutions as part of EEG's Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Campaign, and to boost environment education.
Information about the way these centres operate is posted in the article about the Fujairah HCT Recycling Centre.
The desire to link the recycling centres with educational establishments will certainly bolster environmental awareness and responsibility. The one problem is the lack of access that the general public has to a school leaving them with nowhere they can go to deposit their papers, glass and plastic.
It would be good if a future Fujairah proposal included a plan to locate the recycling centres in supermarket car parks such as Lulus, so that there might be suitable public access.
Source: New recycling centre opens in Fujairah, Gulf News, 11 June 2008.
Image: The bins at the Fujairah Women’s College in April 2007 before they were put into use.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Check out the sister site, Experiencing the Emirates.
Recent articles look at:
VAT and Visa Decisions Discouraging Tourists
UAE’s Erection Complex
Benazir Bhutto’s Daughter Carries on her Mother’s Work
High Costs Driving Expats Away
Are You Ready to Come to the UAE?
The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) on Wednesday approved the application of two Philippine carriers to fly commercially to the Middle East.
The decision was announced by CAB deputy executive director Carmelo Arcilla during a hearing by the House Committee on Overseas Workers' Affairs.
"We have not really slept on this," Arcilla told abs-cbnNEWS.com, referring to the problem of lack of airline seats for OFWs going to the Middle East.
Although he identified the carriers as Spirit of Manila and Trans-Global Airways, he did not specify the actual routes they would be servicing. He said it was the airlines’ operational matter.
The approval came just before Trans-Global's maiden trip to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates last Friday.
Arcilla added that Trans-Global will initially be using MD-83 aircraft that has a capacity of 160 passengers. They also have plans to acquire a 767 airplane which seats 250 people.
The new airlines are both Filipino owned with foreign partners, Arcilla said.
He also added that CAB was expecting more airlines to come forward and apply for licenses. Definitely, though, he said, "new entrants who are capable would be preferable (to an old airline executing) a code sharing agreement (with another airline."
The code sharing agreement is a means by which an airline sells tickets to passengers for a flight on another airline. It does not actually fly a plane into the place specified.
Source: CAB Update Allows Two New Airlines to Fly to Middle East, ABS-CBN News Online, 11 June 2008.
Is there another international airport that is closer to the main street than the Fujairah International Airport? Fujairah International Airport is only seconds away from the centre of Fujairah.
There will be lots of happy Fujairah residents when flights to major international routes depart and arrive through Fujairah.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Fujairah International Airport.(interior)
Monday, June 9, 2008
The online magazine Kiwi Collection, highlights the delights that the Sultanate of Oman has to offer. You can fly into centres such as Muscat and Salalah but after showing your passport, driving from Fujairah down through Oman makes for a most scenic trip.
With tourism cranking up in Oman, Fujairah will benefit no matter which part of Oman visitors choose to explore.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: “the stunning Musamdam Peninsula…”
Sunday, June 8, 2008
If readers want to see how oil slicks affect tourism on the personal level here is an excerpt from a blog posting written today (8 June 2008) by an American family living in Abu Dhabi:
“Yesterday I ended up reading the new English-language newspaper that just came out here. It’s called The National and I learned so much about some things that are going on here. Like a huge issue [here is the article] they are having with ships dumping oily waste into the Gulf and the beaches of Fujairah are often streaked with oil. They haven’t even caught one dumper yet because the ships venture out beyond the reach of the UAE Coast Guard and dump. Basically the consensus is “don’t swim in the water”, but that doesn’t seem like an acceptable solution to a huge environmental problem. I tried to imagine reading the same story, but the oil being on the beaches of San Diego and practically laughed out loud at such an absurd thought. But it isn’t just because we keep all of our environmentalists in San Francisco, and they’d be there in a few hours to protest such mayhem. It’s because we have agencies and checks in place to prevent such a thing from happening… We were talking about heading up to Fujairah one of these weekends to hang out on the beaches at a resort; now I am beginning to rethink that.”
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Photo from an article on oil slicks in different parts of the world.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
“Where is that article about the Shisha Café or the one on Oil Slicks or info on Fishing and Diving?”
You can go through the Archives of this site looking for a title that looks like the one.
You can try using the ‘Search Blog’ at the top left of the site (if it is in English) or the top right (if it is in Arabic).
Put in your key word into the box—‘Shisha’, ‘Slicks, ‘Spills’ ‘Fishing’ or whatever.
It is generally effective and the fastest way to track down what you are looking for.
Friday, June 6, 2008
The Hendersonville Epicurean, which writes about all things foody in the area, gives the opening hours of Hookah House, posts some photos of the establishment, tells the story of its origins and offers the reviewer’s impressions. Here is a taster:
“Owners Allison and Kevin have worked hard to re-open after moving from the other side of Main Street. Their goal is to provide a welcoming space for all ages (during the day) and adults at night.”
“Kevin was introduced to shisha while stationed in the Persian Gulf. Living in Fujairah, a city in the UAE — The United Arab Emirates — he observed that the hookah provided a venue for social interaction.”
“At about 10 o'clock at night the merchants would close their shops and bring their couches and tables into the street,” he recalled. “They would bring out their hookahs and board games and sit there for hours — till two or three in the morning — playing backgammon, drinking coffee, talking and sharing the shisha. “It's really not about smoking,” Kevin continued. “It's about fellowship — a medium to bring people together for relaxation and conversation. That's what we've tried to maintain here in the Hookah House. It's Americanized in terms of the decor, but we've tried to create an atmosphere that's conducive to that sense of community — to get people away from the big screen TV to where they are sitting there, face to face, and relating to each other as human beings.”
There are more personal impressions of the Hendersonville Hookah experience at this link.
Sharing the Shisha Experience
Another, review of the Hendersonville Hookah House, with more detail for Americans on shisha smoking and how they are finding the experience can be found at: Sharing the Shisha, Bold Life, 1 July 2007.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Sharing the Shisha in USA, courtesy of Bold Life.
Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano said the inaugural Clark-Fujairah flight made a technical stop in Dhaka, Bangladesh before proceeding to Fujairah in the UAE which is only an hour from Dubai.
He said Transglobal Airways has already invested some $10 million for such flights and is prepared to invest another $10 million amid plans to expand operations at the DMIA.
Source: Philippine Star, 6 June 2008.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Transglobal Airways plane.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Located in the emirate of Fujairah, this environmental area is a thirty minute drive from the Al Bidya mosque in Khor Fakkan, fifteen minutes of which involves an off-road drive.
The site is valuable for its water resources, flora (300+ plant species) and fauna (75 insects, the Arabian tahr, snakes, lizards and maybe the Arabian leopard?) It is also rich in archaeological assets.
To read the entire interesting article, follow this link:
Vikram Singh Barhat, ‘How Green is my Wadi: Wildlife Awakening’, Xpress News, 5 June 2008.
Image: Dr Tourenq of the Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF.
Fujairah Moving Towards Natural Tourism, ETE, 14 June 2007.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The Fujairah ruler also represented the citizens of his emirate at the funeral prayers that were held on Tuesday.
Shaikh Nasser was the brother of the UAE President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: UAE flags flying at half-mast this week.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Anyone thinking of coming to Fujairah for a holiday or to live for a time might get a good idea from having a look at the city and emirate on Google Earth.
Fly to Fujairah
Once you are in Google Earth, putting ‘Fujairah, United Arab Emirates’ into the Search function should ‘fly’ you there with speed.
You will quickly see why Fujairah is such a treasure, nestled under the towering Hajar Mountains and so close to the Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean). The rectangular street pattern reveals the flatness of the Fujairah city and the brown colouring of the city lets you know there is more dust than the green, green grass of home. It is good to see some parks and a date farm or two within the city limits. See how many swimming pools you can spot? There are one or two in the suburb of Faseel and specifically in the White Village.
Flying south along the coastline you will see the new wharf where rocks are being exported to Iran and other countries. It makes you wonder how much will be left of the Hajars in another decade after trillions of truck loads of rocks have been taken to form the foundation of Dubai’s skyscrapers and now they are being exported overseas! Unfortunately Google Earth reveals the many quarries around Fujairah that scar the mountainous landscape. Some are placed too close to communities and they bring harm to people, especially those who already have respiratory problems such as asthma.
Further south you will see Kalba (Khalba) which is an enclave of the emirate of Sharjah. What is identified as a ‘lagoon’ represents a valuable wetland for hundreds of migratory birds. Only a few kilometers further south you will see a yellow line which denotes the UAE-Omani border.
Proximity to Oman is another good reason to be living in Fujairah but bring your passport if you are crossing the border by car. There is a fence that marks the border if you are walking south on the Kalba Beach. If you get too near the border the officials up in the lookout wave their arms and their rifles and don’t take kindly to you having your photo taken with one foot in each country (even though this is No Person’s Land).
North from Fujairah city you will see how the Hajars hug the coast. There’s the port and oil refinery and soon to be the pipeline that will bring gas from Qatar via Abu Dhabi.
Moving north to Khorfakkan (also spelt Khaw Fakkan) we are back in the Sharjah emirate, an emirate that has its territories bordering the western and the eastern coasts of the UAE.
The blue dots identify a string of hotels and there are islands where lots of diving takes place.
See how far north the emirate of Fujairah extends. When you get to Dibba you will see the yellow emirate and national boundaries cutting in all directions and dissecting Dibba into Fujairah, Sharjah and the country of Oman. It is remarkable all these state and national enclaves exist and are probably the result of much debate and endless disputes.
Bird’s Eye View
Google Earth gives to travelers and residents a sense of perspective about Fujairah and an indication of distances between the city and its outposts. It gives any navigator an god insight into how to plan a weekend round trip from Dubai or Abu Dhabi. I am amazed at how many friends in other countries of the world check out our bearings to see our house and whether they can see us taking out the rubbish!
Since the creation of Google Earth there have spawned many local Google Earth communities around the world—people who on this resource take different parts of their town and add identification tags to indicate parks, shopping malls, schools, places of worship etc.
I am unsure about the existence of a Google Earth Community in Fujairah but in the absence of decent maps of Fujairah and realizing that new streets and institutions are being developed every year, working intentionally on a comprehensive Fujairah street and landmark map might be a useful community project.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Google Earth photo of Fujairah (click to magnify).
Monday, June 2, 2008
People interviewed by The National reporter indicated that ‘minor slicks were common’ and ‘it happens almost every day’.
This new oil slick has killed marine life, put a stop to beach and marine recreation and will again cause hotels and diving clubs to feel the financial strain.
The magnitude of this spill is enormous and tragic. The regularity of the slicks is another sign of the impotence of the systems for surveillance and policing.
Some practical solutions have been recommended again and again but the action by the authorities has been ineffective.
Source: ‘Oil Spills Blacken Fujairah,’ The National, 2 June 2008.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Recent Oil Slick on Fujairah beach.
Further 2008 Articles:
UAE Negligent in Policing Fujairah waters, FIF, 2 April 2008
Further oil Spills Call for Urgent Action, FIF, 11 March 2008
Oil Damages Fujairah Beaches, Marine Life and Tourism, FIF, 20 February 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Take a look at this photo by Alex in its expanded form and go to the site where it is originally posted.
There are several other photos on this site of Fujairah and the UAE.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Mountains of Fujairah (with thanks to Alex)
Directions from Dubai to Fujairah, Fujairah in Focus