Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eid Mubarak in Fujairah عيد مبارك‎

On this first day of Eid Al Fitr I wish all my readers a happy and blessed Eid.

Eid Mubarak! عيد مبارك‎

Dr Geoff Pound

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Further Talk about Dubai to Fujairah Canal

Following an earlier airing of the canal proposal to sidestep the tension-filled Strait of Hormuz, the Middle Eastern Media Line is discussing the matter with spokespeople saying that this is the best alternative to expedite UAE oil services without disruption from Iran.

UAE Plans Canal to Bypass Iran, The Media Line, 24 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: UAE map that indicates route of proposed canal (courtesy of The Medialine at above link).

Kang Pacific Airline is Up, Up and ….

Kang Pacific Airlines announced its plans last year that it would be establishing an airline service between the Philippines and Fujairah.

The National is reporting that the venture is failing to keep its estimated departure time and become a reality.

For more details:
Kang Pacific’s Failure to Launch, The National, 24 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Kang Airway plane (photo courtesy of Kang Airways via The National)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Your Invitation to Subscribe to Postings from this Site

I’d love you to subscribe to postings from this site because:

1. It is free (unlike most subscriptions).
2. You don’t have to become a ‘member’ of this site.
3. I travel a lot and therefore postings are not always regular.
4. When you subscribe you will get an alert that a new article has been written.

Click on the Subscribe button (see pictured) to get article alerts coming to your computer via Google Reader, Bloglines, or however you manage your favorite web site feeds.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: This has become the universal Subscribe Button on most Internet web sites.

Oil Slicks on Fujairah Waters in September

A new oil slick appeared in Fujairah waters on 14 September 2008, the result of another dumping from a rogue oil tanker.

This raises the number of oil slicks along the UAE’s east coast to at least 15 so far this year.

Fuad Ali’s Gulf News report (15 September 2008) indicated that the damage was not as great as the previous incidents and noted Ali Qasim of the Environmental Department at the Fujairah Municipality downplaying the significance of the September slick. It was unfortunate for these authorities and Gulf News that the article bore the title, ‘Authorities Unperturbed by New Oil Slick in Fujairah’.

The same report did not minimise the angst expressed by the Le Meredien CEO about the two kilometer slick who hinted at the cost of cleanup activities and the extensive damage to tourist numbers visiting the east coast. Further reports in The National elaborated on the anger of tourists who found themselves swimming in the oily waters.

An Opinion piece in The National (15 September 2008) declared that there were ‘No Excuses for these Oil Slicks’ and judged that current monitoring measures were ineffective and unacceptable:

“The [Fujairah] Municipality lacks both the monitoring equipment and the policing systems employed by those other ports. This is unacceptable; both are essential.”

The report went on to say that Fujairah Municipality monitoring and policing must be fortified by a collaborative response with regional and federal governments.

One glimmer of hope in this oil dumping saga appeared in Hugh Naylor’s article in The National (15 September 2008) entitled, ‘Fishermen Join Dumping Fight’. This report announced the reaching of an historic stage as fishermen took the first photographs which they claim shows a ship illegally dumping large amounts of oil for nearly an hour.

The article indicated a change of attitude with the Fujairah authorities no longer ‘unperturbed’ and downplaying the damage of the oil slick but “aggressively pursuing the case” and pledging to do “whatever is necessary to find out who did this.” Mohammed al Afham, the Fujairah municipality’s general manager confirmed, “We will not hesitate to use the law to protect our coast and our environment.”

While the new enthusiasm of the Fujairah authorities is to be applauded the report voiced the feelings of the fishermen which have been echoing for months in the minds of many:

“The fishermen complained that in spite of their efforts to help the Port of Fujairah and Coast Guard catch the polluters, authorities had shown insufficient interest until now.”

While Naylor’s report was not specific about the location of the offending ship it revealed the brazen attitude of the oil tanker captain that was offloading oil in broad daylight, not in the cover of darkness.

This incident that appears to have occurred within easy reach of the fishermen and the shoreline seems to have put paid to the usual chorus that such oil dumpings take place far out in international waters which has been repeatedly expressed to excuse the impotence of the local authorities in locating and apprehending the offenders.

Progress is being made slowly on oil slick monitoring off the coast of Fujairah but notably by fishermen who have a vested interest, not by the authorities officially appointed to guard against this oozing catastrophe.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Some fishermen on the UAE east coast.

Visit Fujairah to Watch Bull Butting

Fujairah Series
This is part of a series of articles about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

It’s a Lot of Bull
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 skilfully 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 [these have recently been installed] 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

Image: The Fujairah Bull Butting arena.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Directions from Dubai to Fujairah

Update: Directions + Map for New Sheikh Khalifa Highway

Introduction to Old Route
One of the most popular questions Googled about Fujairah is, “How do you get from Dubai to Fujairah?’

There are different routes and each driver will have their favorite.

Let me share the route I generally use and point out some of the features along the way.

Please let me know if you discover inaccuracies in the directions or changes that have been made since these notes were made in September 2008.

This document can be downloaded at this link: Dubai to Fujairah or here.

There is a significant change in the instructions (due to recent roadworks) described at this link.

Starting Point: The Dubai International Airport.

Coming from central Dubai and heading towards the east on Al Khawaneej Rd with the Dubai International Airport on your left, put your odometer back to zero as you drive under the over bridge labeled ‘Departure’ that links the airport (left) and the long term car park (right).

00.00 km

Generally it is good to keep in the middle lane.

At the first set of traffic lights with the large Emirates Airlines building on your right if you were to swing right at this intersection you would be heading down Marrakech Street towards the Dubai Festival City.

Keep heading straight (or east) but at this intersection you may notice that Al Khawaneej Rd is also labeled ‘Airport Road’. Don’t be confused.

Speed Limit: 80 kph Swaay, Swaay (Arabic for slowly slowly بَطيء بَطيء)
In this next stretch please note that the speed limit is 80 kph but as most cars are straining at the leash to get out of the city, this is a popular place for movable speed cameras on the left and the right.

Moving east you will see off-ramps (going right) that could take you to Hatta, Terminal 2 or Sharjah but don’t be tempted. Drive straight (parallel with the new Metro line which appears on your right).

This is Highway 89 (Green sign).

3.7 km
You will pass on the right the Bin Sougat Shopping Centre.

4.0 km
Continue in the middle lane through the set of lights at the 4.0 km mark and as you venture east you will see to your right the new Dubai Metro terminus (at 5.0 km) in this suburb of Al Rashidiya. This will be the first or the last station on the Red Line.

Keep heading towards signs that point to Al Khawaneej and Al Awir on Highway 89.

6.2 km
Speed limit becomes 100kph

You pass the turn off right to the small but rapidly growing suburb of Mirdif.

8.8 km
There is an Eppco Service Station on your right, the last one for quite a few ks.

10.4km Swaay, Swaay بَطيء بَطيء
In this next stretch of road (Speed Limit 100kph) there are some fixed speed cameras one of which is at the 10.4 mark near where there is a turn off right to Mirdif Park.

There is a major roundabout (with signs to Dubai Academic City going off to the right) but you are going straight and will exit at the 12 o’clock position on the circle. I reckon it is best to enter the roundabout and exit in the middle lane.

You’ll be reassured by signs pointing to Al Khawaneej and Al Awir on Highway 89.

13.5km-Swaay, Swaay بَطيء بَطيء
Watch out for another speed camera on your left at this point. Speed limit is still 100kph for cars, 80 for trucks.

It is still Al Khawaneej Rd but get ready to make a right turn at the next roundabout.

At the roundabout do not go straight through to the town of Al Khawaneej. Instead, turn right following the sign in its direction towards Al Awir.

This is now Al Ahmardi Road, Highway 50. It broadens from a 2 lane highway to four lanes (2 X 2).

Mosque over on the left. Get yourself ready for approaching another major roundabout.

On the D50 highway just before the roundabout there is a sign on a green board that has instructions blotted out. At this roundabout there has been a significant change.

You still come in at a 6.00pm position but you turn right, taking the road to Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi. This takes you in the opposite direction that you ultimately want to be going.

After only 200 metres, taking Exit 63 (Blue sign to Al Awir; Sharjah and Al Dhaid) you turn right like a hairpin bend on a Grand Prix track. This takes you back 150 metres where you turn right and go underneath the road and turn right again.

You drive another 150 metres (towards Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi) and turn right (another hairpin bend) but this has you on the other side of the road and now back on the highway.

You drive another 150-200 metres and finally reach the roundabout.

Aim to go through the roundabout continuing in pretty much the same direction.

If you take the first exit right you will go to Al Awir.

Coming out of this roundabout you will find you are on the Sharjah-Al Dhaid Road with ugly pylons on the right side of the road. This is where you notice you are in the desert.

If you keep on going too far you will find yourself on the Al Khawaneej Rd heading back towards Dubai and you will have to go to the next roundabout before you can return and Take Two.

More Words about Lanes
It is recommended that you stick in the middle lane. Trucks have to be in the right lane by law so this lane is slow.

The lane on the far left is the overtaking lane and if you stay in this lane for too long you will have drivers coming too close and dangerously fast. Tailgating at 100 kph (or later the speed zone gets to 120 kph) is not a pleasant feeling. Added to this (often drivers in 4WDs travelling at 160kph will flash their lights, toot their horns and do all sorts of objectionable things to let you know who is King of the Road.

22.7-23.2 kms Camels (Arabic has more than 40 words for the English word camel but Jamal جمل is the most common).

Look towards the undulating sand dunes on the left along this road and you will see some camels. There are one or two camel stables and studs in this area and a race track at the 24.2 km mark). Camel riders train them on tracks parallel with the road.

You will soon be approaching a turn off right to Fujairah. My instructions will take you another way so if you go right here you are on your own!

26.8 kms Alternative route to Fujairah and Kalba
This route is generally straight and it ends up in Kalba (south of Fujairah). There is also an exit a few metres up on the right that can take you in the opposite direction to Sharjah.

These instructions take you through a more traditional route that passes some quaint towns.

Carry on straight along this Sharjah–Al Dhaid Road which branches out into many lanes.

28.6kms Speed Limit changes to 120 kph.

30.2 kms
Over on the left is the Sharjah Scout camp and mosque.

Somewhere along our travels we have moved from the Dubai emirate and are now in the Sharjah emirate (the third largest). Soon we will be chopping and changing from one emirate to another but don’t worry. Passports are not needed. It is the United Arab Emirates so we all get on well together or at least in theory.

You will see on the right set back from the road an Industrial building with pylons in front of it.
Start getting in the right lane and readying your car to turn off right up a slight incline that then goes down.
The blue sign says, “Batayah, Al Fujairah, Khor Fakkan.”

There is a sign here or when you get on the new highway that goes east saying, ‘Central and Eastern Region’.

This road takes you to Al Dhaid and is a major highway going east.

Speed Limit is 120 kph

35.5 kms
Speed camera on the left.

You will see further signs ‘Batayah, Central region, Eastern Region; Highway 88

Keep following this sign, going straight east.

36.6 kms
Cement works are over on the left. Trucks will be in right lane.

You will pass under a series of over bridges as you travel this road.

The first you go under will be bridge 8.

Speed Limit is still 120 kph for cars and 80 kph for trucks.

39.5 kms
Speed camera attached to the middle wall separating the two sides of the road.

45 kms
You will be approaching some brown signs to the:
Arabian Wildlife Centre
National History Museum and the
Sharjah Monument

Keep following this major highway (now called E I 88) towards Dhaid.

49.5 kms
You will go under the bridge over pass # 10. Keep going east.

52.8 kms
Speed Camera

53.9 kms
Another blue sign to reassure you saying ‘Dhaid, Central region, Eastern Region E 88)’.

54.9 kms
You will go under the bridge over pass # 11.
Keep going east on this highway 88, also called the Al Dhaid Road.
Don’t take any roads off to the right unless you want to stop off at:

57.6 kms
Dulaimah Wild Life Sanctuary

57.8 kms
You will go under the bridge over pass # 12.

58.5 kms
You will see a sign, ‘Welcome to Dhaid City’

60.8 kms
Speed Limit now becomes 100 kph.

61.5 kms
You are approaching the outskirts of Dhaid with shops on left and right.

Continuing you will see a radio transmitter mast.

63.4 kms
An Eppco Service Station on the right side but you are in a few metres going to approach a large roundabout (adorned with grass and gardens).

63.8 kms
First roundabout at Dhaid.
If you enter this circle at the 6 o’clock position you are aiming to exit at the 9 o’clock position which takes you through the long shopping strip of downtown Dhaid. This is the capital of the central district of the emirate of Sharjah. It is a large town that services the surrounding agricultural district.

64.5 kms
After a kilometer with a huge mosque looming on the left there is another large roundabout (at the 64.5 k mark) where you will be taking a right turn (if you approach this roundabout at 6 o’clock you hardly stay on it as you exit at a 4-5 o’clock).

There is an inside and an outside road that goes right. Take whichever one you want. The far right lane is probably preferable.

Signs point to ‘Fujairah’ and ‘Masafi’.

This is now the Al-Dhaid—East Coast Road. Speed limit is 80 kph and seems to go on forever and it feels like it you should be going faster. Most cars do.

65.4 kms
Emirates Service Station (24 hrs) and soon after…

65.6 kms
Mobil Car wash, lube etc.

Al Safeer Hypermarket on the left.

66.8 kms
Blue sign saying ‘Masafi 28 kms’; ‘Fujairah 56 kms’.

67.9 kms
You are approaching a roundabout entering it at a 6 o’clock position and you are aiming to exit at a 12.00 position going towards Masafi on Route 89.

If you were to go right around and exit at the 9 o’clock position you would be heading out to another of the seven emirates, Ras Al Khaimah (literally meaning ‘The Top of the Tent’. RAK as it is affectionately called is in the northern part of the Persian Gulf.)

68.2 kms
Speed limit becomes 100 kph.

68.8 kms
Speed camera in middle of the road.

If you were desperate to buy some dates, over on the left side of the road is a good place to get them and see them being dried, washed, sorted and packed. It is called Al Hashimaiah (my spelling may not be correct) and they are lovely local dates.

70.00 kms
There are places to buy tents on the right side of the road.

Note how there is no desert after Dhaid and there is quite a different landscape. Keep a look out for the many date farms on the left and right.

You will start to see the outline of the Hajar Mountains (Hajar is Arabic for Stone) in the distance especially at the 72-73 kms mark.

75.00 kms
Speed camera on the left.

76.00 kms
You are approaching two speed humps (at 76.8 km mark) and there are signs to warn you from 1,000 metres away.

This is a major interchange to aid the crossing of this highway by trucks.

You are going straight through.

Eppco service Station on the right.

Go straight towards Masafi heading towards the mountains.
Do not take the road left (back to Dhaid).

As you carry on you will see a Blue sign to ‘Masafi’, ‘Fujairah’—E88

78.9 kms
There is a further opportunity to turn left to RAK.

79.7 kms
The great metropolis of Thoban! (the sign actually appears at 80.5 km mark)
On the right is an ENOC Petrol Station.
On the right there are many shops where you can buy swings and pottery (a local craft for which Thoban is well known)

80.9 kms
Direction sign indicating that Fujairah is 44 kms and Masafi 14 kms.

Note the way the car is starting to climb very gradually into the mountain region.
Quarries are on the right and left and trucks are emerging 24 hours of the day getting rocks and stones for the building of big city (Dubai) buildings.

This is very distinctive landscape—naked mountains covered with little vegetation—partially marred by the ugly power pylons and huge billboards along the road.

Speed Limit sign says, ‘100 kphs’

85.5 kms
Note the wadis surrounded by green palm trees (wadi is an Arabic word for valley or dry river bed that fills up with water when it rains). These are places that grow vegetables for the market.

86.6 kms
The dry river beds which become filled with water when it rains. This area of Masafi has the highest rainfall in the UAE, perhaps because of its altitude and the way the area is sandwiched between the mountains.

87.6 kms
The mountains are closing in. You will see some roads off the side of the road. Often in the winter time there will be Emirati families sitting down having picnics around these parts.

88.7 kms
Direction sign saying, ‘Al Fujairah 36 kms’, ‘Masafi 6 kms’.

Slow down as you are approaching the Friday Market, a great place to buy carpets, mats, pottery, shrubs (from Afghanis and Pakistanis) and fruit and vegetables (mainly served by Bangladeshis from the Brahmanbaria District).

Watch the speed humps.

Interesting to see how some drivers don’t get out but place their order from the car.

There are lots of shops of the same type including a small restaurant, ‘supermarket’ (which is a small shop) and an ADNOC Petrol Station on the left as you leave the Friday Market at the 89.9 km mark.

90.5 kms
As you leave the Friday Market you will see stupendous views, with date farms over on the left that have been there for centuries and nurseries.

Note the decline in altitude.

92.2 kms
You are approaching the one camel town of Marbad which is part of the Fujairah Municipality. Marbad has only a few shops on the left and more shops on the left at the 93.9 km mark. Enjoy the mountain views.

94.1 kms
Speed Limit is 80 kph because you are approaching Masafi. A chunk of this town belongs to RAK and another part belongs to Fujairah. Masafi in Arabic means ‘pure water’ (you will find Masafi water and other drinks in the supermarkets of the UAE). Masafi is known for its citrus trees and mangoes. As Masafi is the highest town and living area in the UAE (567 metres or 1863 feet) and so rich agriculturally, there has been lots to fight about down through the centuries. They say that at the border between the two emirates that divide Ma from safi there is an unfinished building which was the scene of the fighting. The conflict was only ended when the federal government stepped in and claimed ownership of the building.

94.7 kms
Watch the speed humps as the town of Masafi starts at this mark. Look out for unfinished buildings!

There are shops mainly on the left and street vendors on the right. The mosque is further over to the right.

As you drive through the town towards the mountain range you will be approaching another roundabout.

If you approach it from a 6 o’clock direction you will want to turn left at a 3 o’clock position on Highway 89 towards ‘Bulaidha’, ‘Bithnah’ and ‘Fujairah’

(If you stayed on this roundabout and got off before going back in the direction you came you could go to Diba or Dibba).

You are now on Highway 88 or it is also called Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid… Road.

98.4 kms
You are approaching the little town of Daftah (also in the emirate of RAK). There are a couple of speed humps to slow you down. Great fruit and vegetables markets on the right where the Bangladeshis are used to coming up to your car to serve you, if you signal to them and put your window down. This is the Daftah Drive By!

One of their effective selling methods is the ‘taste and see’ technique. They like to cut a slice of mango for you to taste and as your teeth sink into the delicious fruit and juices flow down your cheeks you will mutter “Give me 6 more”, as you clean yourself up. It works most effectively.

100.2 kms
Leaving Daftah on the left you will see more date farms and amazing ravines and mountain views that make this scenery so different from Dubai or the desert you have recently traversed.

104.9 kms
There is the sign to tell you are approaching Al Bulaidha, part of the emirate of Fujairah.

107.2 kms
Sensational views on the left of the mountains with a wadi in the foreground. This would make a good photograph.

Approaching the little settlement of Bithnah.

You will see a turn off left (at 110 kms mark) to the Bithnah Fort.

Down there also is an important archaeological site.

Keep on this main road which continues to descend (as your popping ears will remind you). Date farms at 111.8 kms on left and another on the right at 114.9 km.

115.8 kms
Poultry farm on the left at 115.8 km mark and a sign that says you have 9 kms to go until you reach Fujairah.

116.2 km
There is a speed hump to slow drivers down at an intersection and also in preparation for approaching the Fujairah city.

117.4 kms
Sign to tell you that the speed limit is 80 kph.

119.5 kms
Petrol stations on the right and left signal a gateway to Fujairah city.

Be careful with your speed as you come into Fujairah. Often there are hard too find mobile speed cameras placed between the city gateway and the first set of lights (hidden on the grass median strip under a Palm tree).

Keeping on this road you will see on the right some waste land.

On the left you will see many tertiary establishments including (in this order) Ajman University, Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT)—Men’s College, Institute of Applied Technology, Ministry of the environment—Agriculture for Eastern Region and then the NMC Al Fujairah Hospital just before you approach the first set of traffic lights.

121.00 kms
First set of traffic lights. If you go left you would reach the prison. If you go right you will go to the Al Hayl which now includes the major industrial area for Fujairah.

Go straight ahead through the lights for a kilometer. On the road you will see a wall within which is the Fujairah International Airport.

123.00 kms
You will come to a roundabout that is the commencement to Fujairah’s main street and shopping centre. If you enter this roundabout at a 6 o’clock position, drive almost straight exiting at a 12 or 1 o’clock position.

If you keep on going straight down this street you will eventually reach the coastline and waterfront (Fujairah Corniche).

Welcome to Fujairah! Enjoy!

Source: Some of the information about towns came from Wikipedia. Other facts and statements came from the local grapevine.

Dr Geoff Pound
September 2008

Image: Typical of the terrain you see around Masafi with wadi in the foreground and mountains behind.

Fujairah in Focus: News, views, people, issues and dreams from Fujairah, UAE.

Experiencing the Emirates: Random reflections on everyday life in the UAE.

Check It Out
Check out the new site America’s Cup in the UAE.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Visit Fujairah to Watch the Birds

From time to time I am doing a round up of blog postings about Fujairah, and writing about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

UAE is for the Birds
There are people in the UAE whose passion and hobby is ‘birding’.

They go in groups or on their own with cameras and binoculars. When they get home they send out their sightings to others and they revel in posting their photos for others to enjoy.

Fujairah: Bird Watching capital of the Emirates
In a posting many months ago I mentioned the claim that many have made, that Fujairah is the bird watching capital of the Emirates and possibly the Gulf.

The emirate of Al Fujairah (and adjoining emirates) with the mountains and coastline contribute to making this area a rich region for birds. It is also an important stopping off place for birds on their global migratory routes. All of this underscores the importance of protecting the eastern environment.

The main birding sites in this eastern region include Sifini Dam and Shawka, Masafi Wadi, Fujairah National Dairy Farm, Ras Dibba, Fujairah Port Beach, Khor Kalba and Huwaylat Road.

Tommy Pedersen maintains a great new web site whose home page is at this link: UAE Birding. The transfer of photos and information from this older web site is currently taking place and when the job is done the old site will be removed.

Fly over and see the information, the discussion forums, the maps for directions to the chief bird sites in the UAE and most of all the extensive photo galleries.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Attached is a photo of a young Bridled Tern, a great seabird characteristic of the East Coast (as well as the Abu Dhabi coast). It was photographed at Fujairah Port Beach August 2008 by Tommy Pedersen. (Thanks to Tommy for permission to post this photograph).

Click to enlarge and fully appreciate this bird and photograph.

Related Articles:
Birds of Fujairah, FIF, 4 November 2007.
Birds of the UAE, ETE, 4 November 2007.
The Falcon: An Emirati Icon, ETE, 26 August 2007.
UAE on High Bird Flu Alert, ETE, 5 March 2007
Review of ‘Birds of the Middle East’, RBM, 4 November 2007

More in the ‘Why Visit Fujairah?’ series:
Friday Market
Good Cheap Carpets
Fort and Historic Places
Kayaking and Diving
Sun, Snorkeling and Scenery
Weekend Getaway
Beautiful Scenery
Hajar Mountain Drive

Algae Kills Thousands of Fish at Fujairah’s Dibba Beach

The National reports (10 September 2008) “an outbreak of Red Tide toxic algae off the coast of Diba Husn in Fujairah [which] is killing thousands of fish and fouling the shores.”

Authorities are urging people not to eat the dead fish washed up on the beach.

The algae outbreak was spotted on Tuesday and by Wednesday midday approximately 9,000 dead fish had been counted.

To read the entire report with reasons for the algae outbreak, the statements of the Diba Municipality, the cleanup operation, the health risks to people who eat the dead fish or swim in the water and how the Diba fishermen are reacting to this blow to their business follow this link:

Yasin, Kakande, Authorities Urge People Not to Eat Fish after Algae Outbreak, The National, 10 September 2008.

Diba or Dibba is in the far north of the emirate of Fujairah (see this link for description, location, information and photos) but it also extends to the Sharjah emirate and the enclave of Oman. The village of Dibba Husn [or Hisn] is part of the Sharjah Municipality.

Update: Smelling the Decline of the Fishing industry in Fujairah

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Aerial view of red tide in the USA courtesy of Wildcoast 17 January 2007) which contains a NY Times article outlining some respiratory health risks when the algae toxins are dispersed into the air.

Fujairah Feels Iranian Earthquake

The Gulf News has a detailed report on the impact of the Iranian earthquake (10 September 2008) on different cities and emirates of the UAE.

Fujairah Report
GN: “Residents in Fujairah city, Khor Fakkan and Dibba reported feeling the tremors but there were no reports of damage or injuries. The strongest tremors were felt in Fujairah city.”

To read the entire article, with a timeline of earthquakes affecting the UAE this century, follow this link:

Panic Ripples across UAE after Quake, Gulf News, 10 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Earthquake’s epicenter (courtesy of Gulf News).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting the Most out of the Fujairah in Focus Blog

About This Site
- Fujairah in Focus started as a web log to record experiences, feelings and photos for our relatives, especially my mother who still asks, “How are things going in Fallujah?”

FIF- An increasing number of news items and links have been posted on this site when I discovered it was difficult to find information about Fujairah.

Making this Site Work for You
FIF- Click on the photos to enlarge the image.

FIF- Click the Subscribe button (top right) so info comes directly into your Reader (Google Reader, Bloglines etc) alerting you to another posting.

FIF- Pass on the web link (URL) to your family and friends within the UAE and overseas. It is one way to keep them abreast of things happening within the emirate of Fujairah. Link this web site to your personal or business web site if that is appropriate.

FIF- Use the Search Blog space at the top of the page rather than wade through the archives looking for an article you read three months ago. Try putting in words like:
[Oil] spills, Hajar, Friday [Market], [Fujairah] Information, wadi, taxis, kalba, rotana.

FIF- this is a daughter site to Experiencing the Emirates which contains ‘random reflections on everyday life in the UAE’. Sometimes I post a Fujairah article on the ETE site to let people know what is happening in Fujairah.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Fujairah in Focus.

Visit Fujairah for the Hajar Mountain Drive

From time to time I am doing a round up of blog postings about Fujairah, mainly to write about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

Al Hajar Mountains
If a picture paints a thousand words this Dubai blog writer has chosen not to add anymore to this photo (attached) apart from the caption, 'Dubai to Fujairah'. (This is fitting as the site is a photo blog)

Approaching Masafi one drives through the Hajar Mountains (literally ‘Stone Mountains in Arabic جبال الحجر) where there are spectacular views only partially marred by ugly power pylons, quarry scars and quarry dust.

It is worth the trip out east just to enjoy the drive and scenery which is so unlike the terrain around Dubai.

Source: Dubai to Fujairah, Dubai Image-Images of Dubai, UAE, a fresh image every day (well not quite everyday), 8 July 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Photo of the road cutting through the Hajar Mountains (courtesy of Dubai Image). Click to magnify the picture.

More in the ‘Why Visit Fujairah?’ series:
Good Cheap Carpets
Fort and Historic Places
Kayaking and Diving
Sun, Snorkeling and Scenery
Weekend Getaway
Friday Market and Bartering

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dubai to Fujairah Canal Would Facilitate Oil Flow

Abu Dhabi is building a pipeline to Fujairah so the flow of oil can avoid the troubled Straits of Hormuz.

Now Dubai authorities are considering the construction of a by-pass shipping canal to avoid future strangulations of the Straits of Hormuz.

Iran repeatedly says it will block traffic through the Straits if its nuclear plants are attacked by Israel or the United States. These are no idle threats for Iran has targeted tankers in its recent history.

Whenever Iran makes these statements the price of oil rises so this is an international problem not just a challenge for the Gulf States to avoid the Hormuz choke point.

This traffic is significant as 17 million barrels of oil a day (or 40% of the world’s traded oil) pass through the Straits. This represents 90% of the Gulf’s oil flow.

There appear to be several plans but the 112-mile canal would link the Gulf coast with the port of Fujairah on the Indian Ocean coast.

This would pose an enormous engineering feat as the canal would cross the Hajar Mountains using a network of locks. But with Dubai’s ‘can do’ attitude, this would be further testimony to Dubai’s remarkable achievements.

Cost is a consideration with the projected price tag of the canal around US$200 billion. However, with Abu Dhabi splashing its millions on football clubs and footballers this canal construction cost is put into perspective and it would provide a telling contrast in investment.

Furthermore Dubai is getting experienced at creating canals and it is already looking to earn the reputation as the Venice of the Middle East. A canal through the mighty Hajars and wide enough to move oil tankers would be taking canal building to a new level.

No details have surfaced on the environmental impact of building a canal through the Hajars but as these mountains are quarried to provide the foundation for Dubai’s big building projects this would not seem be of great concern to the decision makers.

The leaking of these plans to construct a Dubai to Fujairah Canal has come in the same week as Fujairah authorities have announced major alterations and extensions to its port, which is the second largest oil bunkering port in the world and still growing. One wonders what connections there between the plans for a inter-emirate canal and an enlarged Fujairah port.

David Robertson, Dubai plans $200bn canal to bypass Strait of Hormuz, Times, 9 September 2008.

Fujairah Port Announces Expansion but no Word on Oil pollution Control, Fujairah in Focus, 8 September 2008.

Read more on The Geopolitics of Excess with a wonderful drawing of military action near the Gulf of Hormuz and where the Dubai-Fujairah canal might be built.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “The 112-mile canal would link the Gulf coast with the port of Fujairah on the Indian Ocean coast.”

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fujairah Port Announces Expansion but No Word on Oil Pollution Control

The Fujairah Port will undergo a major overhaul of its existing infrastructure as well as extending its facilities, thanks to a Dh900 mill (US$257 mill) loan that will come courtesy of a syndicate of thirteen banks.

This expansion is due to the growing use of the port and terminal in which Fujairah has become the second largest bunkering port in the world.

Celebrating this development, HH Sheikh Saleh Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Chairman of the Port of Fujairah and the Department of Industry and Economy for the government of Fujairah said:

“We have clearly defined our expansion plans and their objectives, which will benefit not only the port but also the commercial support services in Fujairah and the rest of the UAE.”

The major concern that was not addressed in this announcement is that the Fujairah Port is well in contention for holding the world record for the greatest number of oil spills within its responsibility.

This year alone there have been more than a dozen oil dumpings from tankers out from the Fujairah Port and in all its years of operation no captain has been apprehended nor ship impounded for this criminal behaviour. Consequently, while commercial services have been enriched as the Port has grown, the Fujairah and Sharjah marine environment has been harmed due to the frequent oil dumps. Furthermore, tourism, hotels, fishing and diving companies have suffered financial loss and goodwill because of the negligence in surveillance, policing and adequate clean up procedures.

The expansion of the Port in Fujairah is to be welcomed along with the extra custom it will bring the eastern emirate. However, the increased traffic that the development will enable may well increase the incidence of oil dumping into the Fujairah harbour if nothing more is done to effectively apprehend and penalise polluting offenders in accordance with the Port of Fujairah Rules and Regulations (Ch. VI, Article 30.b).

Increased control must go hand in hand with increased capacity.

Moussa Ahmad, Port of Fujairah Raises US$260 million to Realise Infrastructure Plans, BI-ME, 8 September 2008.
Cleaning Up Oil in Fujairah, The National, 12 June 2008. See this and the ten other articles listed on this page.
East Coast Oil Slicks Require National Solution, Experiencing the Emirates, 10 August 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Images of Fujairah Port and Beaches.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Visit Fujairah for Beautiful Scenery

From time to time I am doing a round up of blog postings (in the last month or so) about Fujairah, mainly to write about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

The change in scenery from the desert land west of Dhaid to the Hajar Mountains towards the east takes many first time visitors to Fujairah by surprise:

Listen to this impression from a person spending a two month stay in the UAE:

“Someone at work told us that the most beautiful of the Emirates is Fujairah and that if we had time the beaches there were great. Last weekend we drove the two hours east to the coast. The drive was beautiful. There are mountains all the way up to the beach. So when you are in the water facing land you see large mountains in the background.”

Source: Dubai Adventures! Fujairah, 9 August 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “So when you are in the water facing land you see large mountains in the background.”

More in the ‘Why Visit Fujairah?’ series:
Good Cheap Carpets
Fort and Historic Places
Kayaking and Diving
Sun, Snorkeling and Scenery
Weekend Getaway
Friday Market and Bartering

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Visit Fujairah for the Friday Market and Tips on How to Barter

This is part of an irregular round up of blog postings about Fujairah, to write about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

Friday Market
There is something endearing about shopping in a traditional market or ‘souk’ in the United Arab Emirates and this factor is a quality that even the largest malls in the world do not possess.

Take the Friday Market on the Dubai side of Masafi along the road to Fujairah. It’s no wonder that all tour operators stop here. Even the name is quirky, for the Friday Market opens every day and even if you’re traveling the road in the middle of the night there’s always someone awake to sell you a sweet banana or an apple for the road.

The origins of the Friday Market are shrouded in mystery. Nothing is written down but the oral tradition records that decades ago three Emirati farmers would come to the mosque and after Friday prayers they would unload their trucks and sell the produce from their farms at the roadside stalls.

The Friday Market is surprisingly located because whichever way you approach it you round the bend and it’s there. Sandwiched between high mountains and a nearby wadi, the high rainfall in this area (for the UAE) has meant the good production of crops and a natural oasis for travelers and people wanting to pitch their tent for a night.

The Friday Market is a work in progress. It is only in recent years that electricity has been connected and the petrol station has added a modern touch. The stalls are no longer run by Emirati farmers but by Bangladeshis who sell fruit and veges, Afghanis and Pakistanis who operate the many carpet shops and Indians and Egyptians who run the café, the souvenir shops and the one cassette and video outlet. There are several extensive nurseries where you can buy bedding plants and sizeable trees. A mosque is part of the strip in case the shopping coincides with a time for prayer. One writer who has traveled this road for many years notes that the Friday Market shops have become disappointingly homogenous in recent years.

One of the attractive things about a market is that the produce is usually fresh and locally grown, although, how much of the Friday Market fruit and vegetables comes from nearby is anyone’s guess. It is good to wander into the pottery shops where you can purchase locally made pots, cups and incense burners.

One does not feel as claustrophobed in a market as you can when encapsulated in a shopping mall with its special lighting and music to tempt you to buy. If you look around you can see the mountains and the farms which is a vivid reminder of the soil and the trees from where this produce has come.

For those who must have the climate-controlled malls, the Friday Market counters with its creative alternative. People can drive alongside the stalls, place their orders and make their purchases all from the comfort of their air-conditioned vehicles. The Americans claim to have invented the drive-through concept in the 1940s with their drive-through restaurants (or ‘meals on wheels’), the drive-through banks, the drive-through pharmacies, the drive-through liquor stores and even their drive-through marriages, as popularized in Las Vegas. Sure there are no microphones, speakers and uniformed sales assistants but the Friday Market has been offering a drive-through service for yonks. There are oodles of staff so you won’t be kept waiting if you’re in a hurry.

The best shopping experience is when you get out of the car and the Friday Market is ideally situated to provide a timely stopping off point for travelers making the trip to and from Fujairah. Moving among the stalls you can see trading at its most basic level. There is no window dressing because there are no windows to dress. There are no advertising banners beaming their cunning messages at you. The market is free of wrapping, credit cards and other fandangled accessories.

But fruit and vege shoppers are induced to make a purchase by the oldest selling principle in the book—‘taste and see’. The vendors, who are mainly from Brahmanbaria in Bangladesh, will sit you down, thump on a melon to test for ripeness and cut a generous slice for you to sample. As you sit on your plastic chair munching, with sweet juices flowing from the edges of your mouth they’ll regale you with stories about their cricket team at the Cricket World Cup. It’s hard to walk away from such friendly and generous shopkeepers empty-handed.

Buying carpets and mats at the Friday Market is equally a fascinating business. If you happen to stop in the early afternoon, chances are you’ll see most carpet sellers lying out the front of their shop having a sleep. The shops are open but the workers enjoy the split shift approach to employment. There are no counters dividing shopkeepers from customers and you roam around the large areas poking among the piles of carpet. When a design takes your fancy, if you as much as turn your glance away, the carpet seller from Kabul will pull out a variety of alternatives.

The Art of Bartering
The beauty of the bazaar experience is that there is no fixed price. When you ask you might be told an outrageous price, although the naïve, who is uninitiated in the art of bartering might reach for their wallet and the seller makes a killing. If you dismiss that price as ludicrous and starting walking towards your car saying, “There’s plenty more carpets along the road,” the vendor will keep asking, “How much do you want to pay?” This cat and mouse haggling is expected and it’s all the fun of the fair.

On one visit to the Friday Market I purchased a Kashmiri mat. “What is your best price I asked?’ The carpet seller from Kabul said it was five hundred dirhams. “Five hundred dirhams,” I exclaimed. “That’s far too much.” When asked what I wanted to pay I said “Two hundred” and received a look of disbelief and a glare that was to say, “Get realistic! How do you think I’m going to earn a living by giving this carpet away?” After the tooing and frooing and some stories about the Taliban we settled on two-hundred and fifty dirhams. Whenever I start to feel guilty about my hard bargaining approach I seek solace and understanding in Umberto Eco’s anecdote concerning Baudolino (in the book with the same title).

Baudolino and the touring party had arrived at Gallipolis to do some shopping and he briefs the group on how to get the best deal:

“You should know that in our markets, at first glance, you wouldn’t want to buy anything because they ask too much, and if you immediately pay what they ask, it’s not that they take you for fools, because they already know you are fools, but they are offended because the merchant’s joy is bargaining. So offer two coins when they ask ten, they’ll come down to seven, you offer three and they come down to five, you stick to three, until they give in, weeping and swearing they’ll end up homeless with all their family. At that point, go ahead and buy, but you should know that the object was worth one coin.”

“Then why should we buy?” the Poet asked.
“Because they also have a right to live, and three coins for what is worth one represents an honest trade.” (Umberto Eco, Baudolino p285).

When you visit the UAE, described by a cynic as ‘one giant shopping mall’, don’t forget to visit Fujairah’s Friday Market at Masafi and experience the joy of bargaining.

Dr Geoff Pound.

Image: Snapshot of Friday Market.

More in the ‘Why Visit Fujairah?’ series:
Good Cheap Carpets
Fort and Historic Places
Kayaking and Diving
Sun, Snorkeling and Scenery
Weekend Getaway

Friday, September 5, 2008

Visit Fujairah for a Weekend Getaway

This is part of an irregular round up of blog postings (in the last month or so) about Fujairah, to write about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

The Gulf News has posted an article about Fujairah as a ‘Weekender’s Delight’ for UAE residents in contrast to international tourists who stay at Fujairah beaches for longer to ‘blob out’.

It mentions the ‘stunning destinations’, beautiful coastal stretches, white sands and comfortable hotels.

To read the entire article, follow this link:
Fuad Ali, Weekender’s Delight’, Gulf News, 5 September 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound.

Image: Fujairah Beach (Courtesy of Fuad Ali, Gulf News)

More in the ‘Why Visit Fujairah?’ series:
Good Cheap Carpets
Fort and Historic Places
Kayaking and Diving
Sun, Snorkeling and Scenery

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Visit Fujairah for Good Cheap Carpets

This is part of an irregular round up of blog postings (in the last month or so) about Fujairah, to write about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

Great Place to Buy Carpets
One Dubai blog writer wrote these comments in one posting:

We… took a road trip to Fujairah yesterday.

I didn't expect to run into some carpet shops there and wasn't expecting to buy anything but the carpets were dirt cheap (relatively)! They must have been at least 3 times cheaper than what you're get in Dubai.

I finally found the ideal carpets for the "alleyways" of my apartment that were about 2m x 0.7m in size and costing 150 Dirhams each. However since a whole lot of us were getting stuff, we managed to bargain this down to 120 Dirhams. They were silk carpets. Very nice to the touch. I'm definitely coming back soon for the larger varieties!

Now normally on most weekends, I'd wish for them to pass as slow as possible. But for this one, I didn't mind if it ended too soon.

In a later posting he posted this photo (attached) of a carpet vendor with some more words and photos

Friday Market
The exact location of this carpet market is not clear but it looks very much like the popular Friday Market.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Carpet Vendor (at Fujairah’s Friday Market?) (Photo courtesy of Tdunhaveafancycatchyblogname: Life in Dubai)

Visit Fujairah for the Fort and Historic Places

This is part of an irregular round up of blog postings (in the last month or so) about Fujairah, to write about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

One blog writer posts this photo of the Fujairah fort with some comments:

Fujairah Fort
Fujairah has preserved some of its history and places of archaeological interest.

This wonderful photo depicts not only the fort but the majestic Hajar Mountains in the background.

To read the rest of the brief posting go to:

Brian’s Study Breaks, 1 August 2008

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Fujairah Fort. (Photo courtesy of BSBs)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Visit Fujairah for Kayaking and Diving

This is part of an irregular round up of blog postings (in the last month or so) about Fujairah, to write about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

One blog writer records these attractions:

Getting to Fujairah
“Since the weather in Fujairah is way cooler than the other emirates, we decided to take our little vacation there.”

“We stayed in the Rotana Al Aqah Beach and it was a marvelous resort! The 2+ hours drive from Dubai was definitely well worth it. Along the road going to the hotel were rocky mountains which provides for a scenic trip.”

“We went into action straightaway upon arrival by kayaking into the vast Indian Ocean. The ocean was pretty calm so we had a great time paddling and checking out the whole scenery. Word of caution, the currents can be very unpredictable, so it would a smart idea to always check the weather forecast and speak to the boathouse people.”

“Determined not to get the downpour in the mountains get into the way of our snorkeling, we headed out to an isolated island off the coast to explore the underwater life of Fujairah. The sky was a little overcast and the sea was a little choppy on that day. But for us, that did not seem to matter. The water was a bit murky because of the rain on the highlands, but I think these shots are still fairly decent.”

To read the rest of the article and see all the shots go to:
Fujairah Trip, My Adventures Both Here and There, 20 August 2008

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Kayaking out from Al Aqah Beach (from the blog).

Visit Fujairah for Sun, Snorkeling, Scenery

From time to time I plan to do a round up of blog postings (in the last month or so) about Fujairah, mainly to write about why people visit this eastern city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates.

Sun, Scenery, Snorkelling
Hayley writes:
“My husband and I were looking for some much needed winter sun for our family. With guaranteed sunshine and child-friendly accommodation booked we set off to the Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah. Not knowing too much about the area we were incredibly pleased to find beautiful scenery, a fantastic Moroccan-style hotel on the shores of the Indian Ocean and very welcoming smiles.”

“The Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort was the perfect luxurious retreat; we spent the days snorkeling in the clear blue waters or bathing on the shore, leaving our children in the capable hands of the kids’ club supervisors. At the end of each day we were treated to live entertainment and with the choice of four restaurants from Italian to Asian Fusion it was the perfect way to catch up on all the days’ adventures and have some great quality time together.”

Mountains and Wadis
“We split the lazy days up with a couple of fantastic day trips organised by the hotel. The first and most adventurous trip was a day of ‘wadi bashing’ in the nearby mountain range. As the name suggests we were strapped in to our 4×4 and hurtled through the valley floors (also known as wadi’s). We stopped along the route at fresh water wadi’s where we were encouraged to take a quick dip to cool down. The kids truly loved their day of extreme off-roading… it certainly was something different!”

To check out the entire article see:
Hayley, Family Fun at Fujairah’s Al Aqah Beach Resort, Tropical Sky Blog, 28 August 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Birds diving for fish further up the coast from Fujairah’s Al Aqah beach.