A recent article described Fujairah as ‘distant’ which raises questions of where does your world begin, how the emirate is perceived and how might this feature be turned to an advantage.
The ‘distant’ label is often tagged to the north-eastern emirate and it is brought to mind by questions about the distance between Abu Dhabi/Dubai/Sharjah and Fujairah which flood the Internet search engines.
‘Distant’ might simply mean far away in place (as in far-flung) or far away in time but it can also convey the notion of being aloof, cold, unfriendly and irrelevant.
Paul Keating, the Australian Prime Minister in the 1990s, once colourfully described his country as ‘being at the arse end of the universe’. Remoteness from centres of population, prosperity and power can have economic and political disadvantages.
It would be interesting to examine (as Geoffrey Blainey has done with Australia) how distance has shaped Fujairah’s history and personality. Has it produced within the emirate a bitter, ‘hard done by’ mentality because it’s seen as a forgotten backwater or has it instilled within its leaders and its people a steely resolve and an entrepreneurial ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude?
Positives of Distance
The fact that the eastern emirate is distant from the UAE’s larger cities and yet within easy reach, has done wonders for Fujairah’s attractive image as a ‘get-away’ destination. To get away from ‘the big smoke’ of Abu Dhabi and the din of Dubai takes time but this travel is a necessary part of the process of detachment, unwinding and refreshment.
The location of Fujairah away from the Arabian/Persian Gulf and its situation on the Indian Ocean is increasingly being viewed positively, especially by leaders of the nation’s oil industry.
The more that Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stirs up tensions over the disputed islands in the Gulf, the more strategic does the location of Fujairah appear.
The Death of Distance
The advent of the Internet has been hailed as bringing about the death of distance and this is true for certain industries.
Living in remote Wellington, New Zealand, has not stopped Richard McManus from developing one of the most popular web businesses in the world. (The Dominion Post, 22 September 2010).
Perhaps online businesses, remote offices and the development of online communication is one of the ways Fujairah can flourish. Yet while the UAE is one of the most connected countries in the region, it is failing to capitalize on the many benefits that the Internet offers.
The word ‘distant’ derives from the Middle English and Middle French word ‘distare’ meaning ‘to stand apart’.
Herein is the secret stance for ‘distant’ Fujairah, not seeking to copy Abu Dhabi and Dubai but accentuating its scenic coastline, highlighting its magnificent mountains, reveling in its rich wild life, talking up its mysterious history, showcasing its authentic culture and promoting all the many benefits that make Fujairah stand apart.
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