Keith Fernandez thinks this weekend’s inaugural Style 2010 fashion show may give Fujairah a ‘makeover’.
By-Pass Surgery or Natural Therapy?
One travel writer recommended that tourists by-pass Fujairah city as there was little to see and head straight for the Al Aqah beach resorts. His article displayed more interest in sipping cocktails around the pool at Le Méridien than investigating what the emirate had to offer.
The Al Aqah beach resorts should not be missed but sadly, many tourists take this writer’s advice and by-pass the city completely. It is crucial for Fujairah tourism to highlight and makeover the emirate’s many attractive features.
Makeover or Reconstructive Surgery?
The natural beauty of Fujairah must be enhanced instead of performing radical surgery that produces something artificial and unrecognizable.
A good example of an enhancement rather than a facelift is the Style 2010 venue at the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club. This resort is nestled against the majestic Hajar Mountains and is such a picture, especially in the evening light.
So what might a Fujairah makeover involve? Here are some guiding principles:
Remove the Veil
Unfortunately Trip Advisor reports and blog postings by visitors to Fujairah (here’s one of the latest) repeat the chorus that there’s not much to see and do in Fujairah. The Al Aqah resorts highlight the lure of Fujairah as a place where you can getaway and do nothing. But the huge numbers that come to the Fujairah port on cruise ships believe the trip advisory reports and thus decide to spend a lazy day on board rather than explore the eastern emirate.
The challenge is to remove Fujairah's veil and face up to the bad press by showcasing the features that people will admire and enjoy.
Replace the Ugly Spots with Beauty Spots
Despite the efforts of the municipality and conservation groups there is still too much plastic blowing around the city, litter being tossed out of cars, rubbish left on the corniche after people have feasted on fast food and the trashing of scenic areas.
It is disturbing to see beach areas taken and sea views blocked by high-rise hotels on the Fujairah corniche.
The efforts of the municipality to plant trees and replace concrete with grass are to be applauded but gardens, fences, children’s play equipment and park benches must be done well and daggy public furniture scrapped.
Remove the Oily Pane
Beauticians use cosmetics to deal with an excess of facial oil but it’s much harder to remove the oil that is dumped by oil tankers into the Fujairah waters.
Inserting the word ‘oil’ into the search box of The National online newspaper will uncover a large number of articles from the black year of 2008 about oil dumping in the Fujairah waters by rogue tankers. This has caused hotel beaches to be closed, diving companies to be decimated and the marine life destroyed.
Fortunately incidents of oil dumping and spillage have been greatly reduced with the development of better surveillance and threats of tougher penalties. But there’s a tricky balance between managing a growing oil industry and keeping the environment in pristine condition.
Accentuate the Positives
Just as a beautician or fashion expert might highlight a person’s hair, face or parts of the torso so one must accentuate the positives of an emirate like Al Fujairah.
His Highness, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, the Ruler of Fujairah and Member of the Supreme Council identified the fine features of his emirate when he wrote this introduction:
“It is…we believe, one of the most beautiful and interesting [emirates], with a combination of attractions found nowhere else in the country. It has no deserts and no oil. What it does have are the best beaches in the country, long sandy stretches washed by the Indian Ocean; the towering and rugged Hajar Mountains riven by valleys that run down to the sea with palm groves clinging to their sides; and a coastal plain verdant with farms that produce much of the UAE’s food.”
(Peter Hellyer, Fujairah: An Arabian Jewel, Dubai: Motivate Publishing, 2005, 4.)
Fujairah does not need to copy the things that attract people to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It has a unique ‘combination of attractions’ which must be showcased and made accessible to residents and visitors alike.
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