Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Swedish Princess and Emirati Prince Make a Right Royal Visit in Fujairah

Princess in the Emirates
Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, made a significant impact when she visited the conservation mountain area, Wadi Wurayah, in the emirate of Fujairah, UAE.

The 33 year old heiress-apparent to the Swedish throne was in the UAE primarily to attend the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi where she also attended and spoke at the Young Future Energy Leaders gathering.

The Princess had a busy schedule, officially opening the Swedish pavilion at the Summit, visiting the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), inspecting the Masdar Institute, inaugurating the Swedish SymbioCity Office at Masdar City and opening the new IKEA store on Yas Island.

In Dubai, Princess Victoria went to the Swedish LEED Platinum certified ESAB facilities in Jebel Ali Free Zone [see some of the pictures] and stopped by the Scandinavian Seaman’s Center.

Informality in Fujairah
In addition to the more formal ambassadorial duties the Swedish Princess was keen to add a more relaxed event by travelling to Fujairah to visit Wadi Wurayah, the first protected mountain area in the Emirates. This was a chance to learn, to give valuable international recognition and to lend support to one of the UAE’s major environmental projects.

Fujairah Program
While the Princess arrived in Fujairah on time the drizzle and cloud cover forced her helicopter to land at the airport and travel by car to the mountain site.

Princess Victoria was warmly greeted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, the Crown Prince of Fujairah, his brother, His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Chairman of the Fujairah Authority for Culture and Information, officials from the Crown Prince’s Office and the Fujairah Municipality, Her Excellency, Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EWS-WWF as well as several of the EWS-WWF staff members involved in the Wadi Wurayah conservation project.

After meeting and greeting in the open air where display boards communicated the work of Wadi Wurayah, conversation continued over refreshments served in a tent that was decorated with more pictures depicting the wadi’s wildlife.

Some informal speeches were made overlooking the Wadi Wurayah dam against the scenic backdrop of the Hajar Mountains. During this time, Her Excellency, Razan Al Mubarak, presented the Princess and the Prince with a colourfully illustrated book on Wadi Wurayah, as a memento of this important meeting.

The Princess was enquiring, engaging, vivacious and generously appreciative of the opportunity to visit Wadi Wurayah. In her formal speech in Abu Dhabi she had spoken passionately about her country’s commitment to the environment where her father, His Majesty the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf is also the President of WWF-Sweden. At Wadi Wurayah the Princess turned the pages of the book with great delight and then expressed her eagerness to experience firsthand the richness of this area.

Walking the Wadi
The Princess and her aides accompanied Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Rashid as they drove to the waterfall followed by a dozen land cruisers that received a thorough going workout as they twisted and rocked up the river bed.

When the cars reached the waterfall Sheikh Mohammed took the royal party to see the pools, where the supply of water all through the year is the key to why this area is able to sustain a large number of mammals, fish and plants.

The Princess was keen to get into the great outdoors. She scaled the rock face with great agility and appeared to enjoy as much walking around the wadi as time permitted.

All Good Things…
The royal party returned to the hospitality tent outside which gifts were exchanged and farewells were made. Clearly, the Princess had enjoyed the outdoor experience and the gracious hospitality of the Fujairah Crown Prince. Her only regret was the limited time but invitations were quickly extended to the Princess to return for a longer period.

As her helicopter lifted and soared across the now sunny and clear skies the Princess was able to get some stunning aerial views of this Fujairah wonderland. As the royal party concluded those on the ground were left ruminating over the significance and usefulness of what they had experienced.

Future Hope
Spectators were left in no doubt as to the passion and commitment to the environment of these royal representatives. This should give their respective constituencies great hope to know that in the future they will have a genuine concern for the environmental impact of any change that they are implementing.

Royal Endorsement
The visit by the heir-apparent of Sweden to the UAE’s first protected mountain area underscores the importance of the vision and decree by His Highness, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah and the ongoing support given by His Highness, Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah.

International Recognition
The visit of the Princess in her own right and on behalf of her father, His Majesty the King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf and President of WWF-Sweden conveys international recognition to what the Fujairah Government is doing as well as the EWS-WWF personnel working in Wadi Wurayah.

Spawning a Lasting Friendship
“I’d like to come back,” are words that slip glibly off our tongues when we depart but this Princess seemed genuine about her enjoyment of the day and her endorsement of the Wadi Wurayah project. Could this visit signal the beginning of a new partnership between Sweden and Fujairah, UAE? Princess Victoria’s country has a rich and proud history of environmental responsibility. Fujairah has an amazing National Park that is being developed for the world to enjoy. At this juncture, when new animal and plant species are being discovered every year, when a Visitor’s Centre is on the drawing board, Park Rangers are needing to be employed and trained and outdoor educational opportunities have only just begun, a Swedish-Emirati partnership makes good sense and would be mutually beneficial.

If something like this was to happen in the future, yesterday’s event would certainly have been a right royal visit.

Take a Look
Some photos of the visit of Her Royal Highness to Wadi Wurayah are in this photo album.

H.R. H. Crown Princess, Biography, Swedish Royal Court.
Personal Website of His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah.

The Royal Treatment for Wadi Wurayah, Fujairah, FIF, 19 January 2011.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Images: The Princess enjoyed walking around Wadi Wurayah.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Royal Treatment for Wadi Wurayah, Fujairah

H.H. Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, Hosts HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden at UAE’s 1st established Mountain Protected Area.

Fujairah, UAE, January 19, 2010:
The resident Caracal and Arabian Tahr in Wadi Wurayah were not alone Wednesday as His Highness Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, and HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden toured the UAE’s 1st established Mountain Protected Area with the conservation team from Emirates Wildlife Society – WWF (EWS-WWF).

Wadi Wurayah, home to some of the world’s most endangered and rare wildlife, was the focal point of this royal visit to Fujairah. The Wadi is one of the few remaining intact freshwater catchments in the UAE. The freshwater is critical to supporting the resident biodiversity. The uniqueness of this ecosystem prompted its protection in 2009 by royal decree in the emirate of Fujairah.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed warmly welcomed HRH Crown Princess Victoria to the emirate of Fujairah and Wadi Wurayah. “Thank you for visiting us in this special location”, he said. “We greatly appreciate your interest in our Mountain Protected Area. Your visit is a wonderful support to our work of conserving and protecting this unique region”.

His Highness, the Crown Prince said he wanted to encourage people to visit Wadi Wurayah, to enjoy its beauty and to do all that they can to protect its rich wildlife and cultural heritage.

The Wadi is home to a diverse array of rare and endangered mammals, plants, insects, and amphibians. Camera traps positioned and maintained by EWS-WWF have confirmed the presence of the Arabian Tahr – once thought extinct in the UAE. The UAE’s only Orchid - Epipactis veratrifolia – survives here, as well as the Oman-UAE endemic wadi fish: Garra barreimiae, classified “Vulnerable” by the IUCN. Wadi Wurayah is also home to 30 insect species that are new to science, 14 of which were first described within this protected area, including two named after the Wadi.

Her Excellency, Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EWS-WWF, accompanied the royal court and said “Wadi Wurayah is a prime example of the cultural and natural history of the UAE. Our forefathers, going back many generations, relied on it for sustenance and we continue to rely on it to remind us of the fragility of life in the desert. For preserving this place for our country’s children, we are indebted to the vision and support of H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah and H.H. Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah”.

This preservation of Wadi Wurayah is the result of collaboration between EWS-WWF, the Municipality of Fujairah, and private sector funding from HSBC Bank Middle East. The Wadi now acts as an awareness and education centre, providing open-air classrooms for hundreds of children and students from all the emirates.

Official Press Release.

Image: HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden with host HH Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, enjoying the delights of Wadi Wurayah, Fujairah.

Photos of Fujairah and Kalba that Tell a Story

A report was posted on Fujairah in Focus last Saturday about the visit of the Dubai Friday Shoot Out Group (FSO) to the UAE’s East Coast.

For most of these amateur photographers it was their first or second visit to Fujairah and they were entranced—so much so that they have scheduled a further visit for 11 February 2011.

Set Before Shooting
Fujairah photographer, Alan Nambiar, offered some useful hints to the shooters and urged them to think carefully about how they compose a picture. For instance, he told them to forget about the Automatic setting and work with the Manual setting. He advised them to adjust the white light setting by not using ‘Sunlight’ even in the bright sun. “Experiment with the ‘Shade’ setting for a richer result,” Alan suggested.

Tell Me a Story
Alan encouraged the Dubai photographers to take their photos and then select for the FSO Facebook site, six photos that tell a story.

Did they achieve this objective? What stories did these first or second-time visitors to Fujairah tell about the emirate? You be the photography judge.

View Their Stories
See the images of Fujairah-Kalba taken by the Dubai photographers and think about the stories that have been shot in half a dozen frames. Here are the links to some of the stories in pictures:

Six of the Best of Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Roopak Thomas.

Six of the Best of Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Nishar Mohammed.

Six of the Best of Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Prashanth H Naik.

Six of the Best of Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Lal Nallath.

Six of the Best of Fujairah and Khor Kalba by Anoop Chandriyan.

Six of the Best at Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Shynil Hashim.

Six of the Best at Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Gops Vas.

Six of the Best of Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Sugesh Gopal.

Six of the Best of Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Pramod Nair.

Six of the Best of Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Linish Mohan.

Six of the Best of Fujairah-Khor Kalba by Pramod Kumar.

Dubai Photographers Shoot Fujairah and the UAE East Coast, FIF, 15 January 2011.

A Photo Story: Lessons in Photography from Dubai’s Friday Shoot Out, FIF, 15 January 2011.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Images: The Dubai Friday Shoot Out Group looking perky before sunrise; Fujairah photographer, Alan Nambiar. The photos posted are courtesy of Lal Nallath, the coordinator of the Friday Shoot Out. Give Lal a call if you’d like to join this friendly, informal group of amateurs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Data Collection in Fujairah is a Team Affair

The Fujairah ‘Data Updating for Population, Residences and Establishments’ is very much a process in teamwork.

Ruler’s Decree
When His Highness, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and the Ruler of Fujairah, ordered an emirate-wide census to be staged in 2011, the Fujairah Statistics Center swung into action, led by the CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Saad.

Skilled and Trained
The statisticians have had to finalize the questions and the survey stages, the IT personnel have created software for the PDAs to receive and transfer the data, 29 surveyors thus far have been selected and trained on the process, supervisors have been readied to sort out local issues and the promotional experts have been letting the public know what to expect in their area.

Fujairah Residents
The most important players in the Tehdees ul Bayanat, (Project for Data Updating) are the residents of Fujairah. While Stage 1 (16 January to 15 February) and Stage 2 (6 March to 5 April) are about counting buildings, residences and establishments, the final stage (1 May to 31 May) will involve all residents giving information that will help the Fujairah Government to plan roads, bridges, houses and amenities for the future.

Take a Look
Some photos of some of the key players in Stage 1 of the Fujairah ‘Data Updating for Population, Residences and Establishments’ are posted in this photo album. Do you recognize any of them? One of them is currently counting buildings in your area.

People Count in Fujairah, FIF, 16 January 2011.
Data Updating in Fujairah Conducted by Surveyors with PDAs, FIF, 29 December 2010.
Fujairah Ruler Orders Census in 2011, FIF, 26 December 2010.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: The ‘Data Updating for Population, Residences and Establishments’ is a real team effort of statisticians, marketers and IT personnel at the Fujairah Statistics Centre, under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim Saad (seated in the front row before the water bottles).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where’s the Beef in Fujairah?

Most of the large super and hypermarkets in Fujairah have their own butchery where you can ask for a special cut of meat as well as purchase pre-cut and plastic sealed pieces.

The largest and one of the oldest rows of butcher shops is strategically placed between Fujairah’s Fruit and Vegetable Souq (market) and the Fish Souq on Al Gurfa Road.

These are all small butcheries but they each have character and variety. The butchers tend to cooperate with one another to get you the meat of your choice.

International Butchers
The butchers come from different countries. Take the King Meat Shop as an example. The head butcher is Imran and he comes from Aleppo in Syria. He has worked in Fujairah for 5 years and he gets paid approximately 5000 AED a month.

Kosru, his assistant, hails from Sylhet near the hills of north east Bangladesh. He has less training and experience and he takes home 1,000 AED per month.

Meat of the World
The meat at all the butcheries is mostly imported from different parts of the world. The meat on sale at the King depends on what is in stock but recently New Zealand and Australian lamb was selling for AED 30 per kilogram and beef from Australia and Pakistan was on sale at 25 AED per kg (without bone) or 20 AED (with bone).

There’s plenty of beef, lamb and chicken available but you won’t find pork in these butcheries. It is available at some supermarkets such as Choitrams in Fujairah’s main street.

The King Meat Shop (like the other butcheries) opens at 8.00am. It closes about 2pm and reopens at 4.00pm for the evening session.

Take a Look
Some of the pictures of the King Meat Shop and surrounding butcheries are posted in this photo album.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: Imran (with the maroon fez) and Kosru giving a royal welcome to the King Meat Shop.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

People Count in Fujairah

Census Starts Today
The ‘Data Updating for Population, Residences and Establishments’ or Tehdees ul Bayanat, starts today in the emirate of Al Fujairah.

Yesterday, 29 surveyors received their instructions and PDAs on which they will collect the data and from 4pm Sunday 16 January, the 2011 Fujairah census will commence.

Able Supervision
Each surveyor is working under an experienced supervisor who will help deal with problems, transfer the data each evening to a main server and conduct samples to ensure that the information collecting is being done accurately and efficiently.

Stage One
This first phase, from 16 January to 15 February, will involve the counting of buildings and establishments. The rate at which surveyors collect the information each afternoon will depend upon whether their survey area is urban or rural, how much travelling is involved between the buildings and the difficulty of getting access.

The target is for surveyors to count 50 buildings per day.

Data Updating in Fujairah Conducted by Surveyors with PDAs, FIF, 29 December 2010.
Fujairah Ruler Orders Census in 2011, FIF, 26 December 2010.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: A surveyor receiving his PDA, name badge and other resources from Fujairah Statistics Center staff, Mr. Anwar (blue shirt) and Mr. Ali (red shirt).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dubai Photographers Shoot Fujairah and the UAE East Coast

Amazing dedication was on display when more than 20 Dubai photographers arrived in Fujairah at 5.30 in the morning last Friday.

The Friday Shoot Out (FSO) is a group drawn together only a few months ago by Lal Nallath. They have been averaging a dozen every Friday but the attractive East Coast location yesterday almost doubled the attendance.

Why arrive so early when it is dark and cold? These photographers know that the early morning light has a rare quality. They wanted to capture those magical 15 minutes before the sun came up over the Indian Ocean at 7am—the rich hues, especially the golden colours when the sun begins to beam on the Hajars.

After an enlightening talk in the dark by Fujairah photographer, Alan Nambiar, the tripods came out with the camera bags. The starting point was the estuary at Khor Kalba where the warm light lit up the mountains in spectacular fashion. The early morning was still so the reflections were true, the subjects were sharp and the distant landscape emerged with clear definition.

Among the photographers (only one woman) were amateurs who shoot scenes in their spare time and ad-agency professionals who use their best images to create a portfolio and showcase what they can do for a company. Some of them strolled in solitude while others shot in pairs or hunted in packs.

After a couple of hours the Dubai Friday Shooters gathered at Fujairah’s Malabar Palace for an Indian breakfast of dosa with sambhar, chapatti and chai. Lots of chatter, laughter and stories of prize-winning photos snapped.

For many this was their first or second visit to Fujairah and Sharjah’s East Coast. Judging by their reaction, they’ll be back. In fact the Dubai FSO has already scheduled a return visit next month. They loved the location—the combination of water scenes, the greenery and the mountains in what for many camera enthusiasts is an unexplored paradise.

Take a Look
If one picture is worth a thousand words see some of the action and learn some photo shooting lessons from these enthusiasts. Here is the link.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: A frenzy of photographers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fujairah Residential Market Outlook

Essa Al Mulla, the Lease Manager for Fujairah National Properties, has an interesting analysis of the residential market in the eastern emirate.

This report was created in 2010 but it is still relevant and Essa plans to write a new report when the outlook changes significantly.

According to Essa Al Mulla the residential property outlook for Fujairah is influenced by these main factors:

1. Population Increase
The Fujairah population last year was approximately 165,000 and it is growing by 7% meaning that 11,500 more people this year are hunting for homes. This puts pressure on the rental market.

2. New Marriages
The marriage rate of young people is increasing in Fujairah by 14% each year (approximately 680 weddings). Not all newly married couples will need to find a unit of their own in Fujairah but this factor is influential.

3. Increase in New Employment
Look at Essa’s analysis of the employment statistics and his forecasting.

Supply and Demand
Essa predicts the total demand for housing units, he makes a prediction of new homes that will be available on the basis of housing permits granted in recent years and then he estimates whether supply will satisfy the demand.

Power Switch
A further critical factor in this equation is how fast new housing units will be switched on to the electricity supply.

Good News
Check out Essa’s forecast that indicates that as the electricity is turned on in Fujairah and new housing units become available, rental prices across the board will drop significantly.

Read for Yourself
The link to the paper Fujairah Residential Market Outlook 2010.

Check out rental accommodation available from Fujairah National Properties.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: One of the rental apartment towers in Fujairah’s main street.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So Long Shankar and Family!

Shankar Bharadwaj, one of Fujairah’s identities, is soon to leave the emirate to launch a new hotel in Bahrain.

While serving in the hotel industry in Dubai for many years, Shankar and his family moved to Fujairah in 2002 where he became the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Al Diar Siji Hotel. During these years Shankar represented the manager in implementing the high quality standards laid out by the International Standards Operation (ISO) and he supervised the launching of the Siji Hotel Apartments in Faseel.

In 2009 Shankar joined Fujairah’s Coral Residence Tower, now renamed Coral Suites Hotel to become the Director of Sales and Marketing for this hotel and others in the Coral chain throughout the Northern Emirates.

The move to Bahrain involves being General Manager for projects associated with the Coral Hotels and initially overseeing the outfitting of a new 4 star business hotel.

People Person
Beyond his work with bookings and beds, Shankar Bharadwaj is a people person who has endeared himself to many people in Fujairah in this last decade. Warm, engaging, personable, Shankar has quickly got to know guests and members of the business community.

Boots and All
Shankar has been active in the Fujairah Indian Social Club, holding just about every position on offer. On 29 January, Shankar and his family will be thanked and farewelled by the local Indian Community.

The Fujairah Toastmasters is the other group that has benefited from Shankar’s speeches, leadership and encouragement. One of his last contributions has been to create the space at the Coral Suites Hotel for the regular meetings of the Toastmasters to be held on these premises.

By getting involved ‘boots and all’ in these two social and service organizations, Shankar has demonstrated one of the chief ways that expatriates can soon feel at home in a new country and enjoy the satisfaction of making a significant contribution.

The move to Bahrain is this time not a move to another city but a move to another country. Shankar says he and his family will miss their friends and life generally in Fujairah but they are grateful for a new opportunity and hopeful that friendships will continue.

We thank Shankar, Shreevidya and their children for the contribution they have made to the community of Fujairah and we wish them well in their new life in Bahrain.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Images: “Shankar has demonstrated one of the chief ways that expatriates can soon feel at home in a new country and enjoy the satisfaction of making a significant contribution.”

If you haven't got his email, here is Shankar's Facebook contact through which you can send him a message and book a very cheap hotel room when you visit Bahrain!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Roundabout Renovations in Fujairah

The roundabouts are a distinctive feature of the Fujairah roadscape and a key to understanding the essence of the local culture.

Some of the roundabouts have recently been through a beautification process with new grass and flowers being planted within the circle.

The roundabout near the new entry to the Fujairah Fort has had nothing short of a complete overhaul in the last few days.

Drivers coming down Moh’d Bin Matar Rd (with its car showrooms and Dana Plaza) will have noticed that the roundabout is radically different. All the trees have gone and with them the grass cover.

Watch This Space
The total extraction of the trees gives to drivers a much clearer view of cars approaching from the roads that flow into this circuit.

The absence of the tall trees now brings the Fujairah Fort into much greater prominence, day and night, which may be the chief reason that prompted the overhaul.

There is no word yet on what this refurbished roundabout will look like or whether it will be the subject of some novel roundabout architecture which has been proposed in an earlier article.

The Falcon Roundabout in Fujairah Reminds People of High Values, FIF, 31 October 2010.
It’s Time for the New Date Roundabout in Fujairah, FIF, 18 September 2010.
Fishing Lures People to Fujairah and Still They’re Getting Hooked, FIF, 14 September 2010.
Discover What Fujairah is about from its Roundabouts, FIF, 3 September 2010.

The.Roundabout Architecture of Dibba-Fujairah, FIF, 19 December 2010.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Images: “The roundabout near the new entry to the Fujairah Fort has had nothing short of a complete overhaul in the last few days… The absence of the tall trees now brings the Fujairah Fort into much greater prominence, day and night.”

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Business, Free Zones and the Real Estate Market in Fujairah

Arabian Business has posted three recent articles focusing on the emirate of Fujairah.

The articles look at how Fujairah has fared in the global recession, the successes and weaknesses of the UAE free zone policy, how Fujairah has approached the real estate market and what the eastern emirate is doing to become a region on the rise.

There is some overlap in themes and content among the three articles but the common denominator is the conversation between Gavin Davids of Arabian Business and Sharief Habib Al Awadhi, the Director General of the Fujairah Free Zone.

The three articles and the links:

Gavin Davids, UAE Free Zones Must Adapt to Survive, Arabian Business, 30 December 2010.
Gavin Davids, Fujairah Eyeing Real Estate Upturn in 2011, Arabian Business, 2 January 2011.
Gavin Davids, Fujairah Rising, Arabian Business, 9 January 2011.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: Fujairah on the rise: a row of new hotels and apartment towers in Fujairah’s main street.

Friday, January 7, 2011

But it’s in the Contract!

How many times have UAE residents uttered these words when discovering that some employment benefit that was written into a contract was being ignored or a clause about the final payout will no longer apply?

It’s easy to conclude that contracts in the UAE are not binding even when they’ve been signed and sealed.

Jeremy Williams in his guide for living in the Gulf (Don’t They Know It’s Friday?) throws light on this issue (p77):

Contractual Obligations v. Personal Trust
Most matters are forever negotiable in Arab eyes. Nothing is really concluded, not even if set out in a signed legal contract, freely negotiated beforehand.

For an Arab, it is said, friendship and personal trust are more important than legal papers and man-made laws (but never God's law, the Shariah).

Circumstances change, therefore what was once true and agreed is no longer true and can be changed and especially if it brings benefit….

However, it would be the height of folly for the Westerner to assume that this friendly 'jam tomorrow' approach works in both directions: Western contractual failure to provide goods or services on time usually means that the Arab organisation concerned will quickly invoke the relevant contract penalty clauses.

Seen in a Person’s Eye
Jo Tatchell in her book, A Diamond in the Desert, includes this story on the same theme, about a meeting between Edward Henderson (distinguished British diplomat in the Gulf) and Sheikh Zayed before he became the ruler of Abu Dhabi:

Neither Edward nor Zayed mentioned the trunk. The quarterly payment from the oil company sat unguarded on the passenger seat of the pick-up, awaiting its rightful turn in the proceedings. When it was eventually stood before Zayed, he acknowledged it with a mere tilt of his head. He did not look at the money inside. As far as Edward knew, no one ever checked the amount. On this occasion, though, he had been instructed to ask for a signed receipt. As the payments had soared, Head Office had demanded paperwork. Zayed roared with laughter when Edward opened the envelope and passed him the piece of paper. “A receipt! Do they no longer trust you, bin Hender?”

Out on the sands, good faith was seen in a man's eye. An official document meant nothing. Zayed looked at Edward, shrugged and called for a pen. “If this is how it must be now, I will sign their paper.” At that moment both men knew that the old ways would not do in the advancing era of wealth and commerce.

“…and it is culturally insensitive to ask an Emirati whether…” FIF, 31 August, 2010.
Check out Fines Before You Spit, Litter, Urinate or Abandon Items on UAE Streets, ETE, 15 July 2009.
Men, Leave Your Jewellery at Home when you Visit the Emirates, ETE, 22 July 2009.
What to Wear in the UAE? ETE, 24 November 2007.
Etiquette in the Emirates, ETE, 21 February 2008.
Drug Laws in the UAE: Travellers Beware! ETE, 4 March 2008.
The UAE and the Law, ETE, 30 December 2007.
UAE Information: Essential Guide for New Residents to the Emirates, ETE, 1 January 2008.
Dubai Malls Join Anti-Indecency Campaign, Gulf News, 7 August 2009.
Don’t they Know It’s Friday by Jeremy Williams, RBAM, 6 June 2008.
Are you ready to come to the UAE? ETE, 6 June 2008.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fascinating Combinations in Fujairah

Dates and Dried Fish
The Rashid Dates Shop is in a row of date shops on the northern side of the Fujairah Fish Souq.

There are so many varieties of dates in this shop and the vendor is eager to let you taste them with the thought that once you sample one you won’t want to leave his shop without a kilo or two.

What caught my attention were the sacks of dried fish standing outside the date shop. They had such a pungent smell and the shopkeeper mentioned that the fish had been caught in Fujairah waters and then dried on the beach.

I had never thought of dates and fish together in a shop, on a menu or on the meal table but maybe this is one of Fujairah’s fascinating combos.

Dates and Wheat
There’s a new shop being established near the roundabout where Moh’d Bin Matar Rd connects, diagonally across from where the large mosque is being built, opposite K.M. Trading and on the road that leads down to the old Fujairah suburb of Madhab.

One of the new shops in this row has the beautiful sign, Dates and Wheat. The shop does not appear to be ready for business but it has a web site in the making. Dates and wheat! This is another interesting Fujairah combination.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lesley Hazleton on Reading the Koran

As the Middle East is the place where many religious writings were revealed and written, residents of this region, regardless of their convictions, might well do to suspend their judgment, shun the stereotypes and read the holy books for themselves.

This is what agnostic Jew Lesley Hazleton did with the Koran and in this fascinating TED Talk, she tells of the experience and shares what she discovered.

Accidental Theologist
A psychologist by training and Middle East reporter by experience, British-born Lesley Hazleton has spent the last ten years exploring the intersections of politics and religion, past and present.

Journalist and ‘accidental theologist’ Lesley Hazleton is the author of ‘After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split’.

Exploding the Myths
TED Talks says in the introduction:

“Lesley Hazleton sat down one day to read the Koran. And what she found—as a non-Muslim, a self-identified ‘tourist’ in the Islamic holy book—wasn't what she expected. With serious scholarship and warm humour, Hazleton shares the grace, flexibility and mystery she found, in this myth-debunking talk.”

Find out Yourself
Alan Klein adds this comment about the value of listening to Hazleton’s talk:

“Very interesting perspective. Her talk has motivated me to read and learn more about the Koran and make up my own mind rather than get second hand information filled with hate.”

Listen to the Talk

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: Lesley Hazleton (Photo courtesy of the Female Chaplin)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Commemorating the Accession of HH Sheikh Mohammed as Ruler of Dubai

Fast Forward
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was not wallowing in the adulation that was coming his way this week but the fifth anniversary of his accession as Ruler of Dubai on 4 January 2011 was simply a stimulus to press on.

In this celebratory week he was still giving expression to the statement he made 16 years ago (4 January 1995) when he became Crown Prince:

“I do not know if I am a good leader, but I am a leader. And I have a vision … I take decisions and I move fast. Full throttle.”

Compassionate Leader
His Highness is a visionary and decisive leader, yet one who makes time to show compassion. For example, this week saw him extending sympathy to members of the Al Tayer family on the tragic death of Mohammed Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer, meeting with a group of orphaned children at the Babs Al Shams Resort, opening two new health centers and ordering a comprehensive study toward the establishment of a hospital for the treatment of cancer patients.

Interviewed by Children
At the Babs Al Shams Resort the children asked His Highness some interesting questions which were able to draw from him some information not previously disclosed.

Emirates 24/7 reported:
“Sheikh Mohammed encouraged the young children to arm themselves with education to face the future, before adding that they should seek knowledge, wisdom and patience from the elderly, as well as a love for their homeland.”

“Responding to the children's questions concerning his family and pastimes, Sheikh Mohammed said that his eldest daughter's name is Hassa and that his passions are horse riding, hunting, reading and writing poetry. He went on to tell the assembled children that his favourite colour was blue and that he enjoyed driving 4WD vehicles and visiting friends and relatives.”

“On being asked about his childhood ambitions, Sheikh Mohammed said that rather than being focused on becoming a ruler or vice president, he was more interested in pleasing his father, while obeying and learning from him.”

Tributes Flowing In
The tributes have been many, thus illustrating the significance of Sheikh Mohammed’s contribution and the esteem in which he is held.

Here is a selection of the tributes:
For Dubai and the World, a Leader’s Legacy, The National, 4 January 2011.
Five Years of ‘Respect and Humility’, The National, 4 January 2011.
Boy who had the Perfect Mentors, The National, 4 January 2011.
Strengthening the Business Environment, Emirates 24/7, 3 January 2011.
Nationals, Expatriates Extol Mohammed’s Leadership, Khaleej Times, 4 January 2011.

More on Sheikh Mohammed
What Did Sheikh Mohammed Mean by Calling Fujairah ‘The Lungs of the UAE’? FIF, 14 December 2010.
Why Sheikh Mohammed Visited Fujairah This Week, FIF, 8 October 2010.
Sheikh Mohammed Says the Whole UAE is Back, FIF, 27 September 2010.
Sheikh Mohammed on the United Arab Emirates, FIF, 31 August 2010.
Sheikh Mohammed Called ‘Sheikh Mo Mentum’ at the US Horse Racing Sales, ETE.
More on Mohammed the Facebooking Twittering Sheikh of Dubai, UAE, ETE.
Make Sure to Connect with Sheikh Mohammed’s Correct Facebook Page, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Gets Public Page on Facebook and Thousands of Fans, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Showered With Birthday Greetings and Facebook Gifts, ETE.
Connect With Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid on Facebook, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Gains Too Many Friends on Facebook, ETE.
Follow Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai on Twitter, ETE.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Judged One of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century, ETE.
Poems Give Most Revealing Glimpse of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Hailed as Most Powerful in Horse Racing Industry, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Pays Record Price for Aussie Horse Racing Deal, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Ambitions for Middle East, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammad Models Rare Style of Leadership, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Leadership is Honoured, ETE.
New Website for H H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ETE.
Dubai and Sheikh Mohammed on 60 Minutes Video, ETE.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page upon which many more articles and links are posted than on this blog.

Image: “Meeting with a group of orphaned children at the Babs Al Shams Resort.” (Photo courtesy of Sheikh Mohammed’s Media Office)

The Kerkusha and Other Aspects of Emirati Male Fashion

Jo Tatchell in A Diamond in the Desert frequently discusses Emirati identity. Toward the end of the book she writes about Emirati men’s attire, including the kerkusha, that “stringy piece of fabric that hangs like a tie from his neck and is peculiar to the Emirates.” (p277)

Who knows about the origins of this tassel (sometimes called a tarbush) that has been likened to a tie, particularly the Texan style bolo (also called bola or bootlace) tie? It appears to have little purpose other than serving as a fashion statement and a linen toy that Emirati men can play with?

Omani men have a similar frill called a furakha and in this statement the writer says it can be impregnated with perfume to give to the wearer and those he meets a pleasant fragrance.

Here are two useful articles by Mariana and Grapeshisha on the garments and fashion features of Emirati men and women.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: “The kerkusha, that “stringy piece of fabric that hangs like a tie from his neck and is peculiar to the Emirates.”

Orascom CEO on Recession, Human Rights and Fujairah UAE

Egyptian businessman and billionaire, Samih Sawiris, is becoming a well-known identity in the UAE and he has a special connection with Fujairah.

Samih Sawiris is chairman and CEO of Orascom Development which has a clutch of companies under this umbrella.

As head of property developer Orascom Hotels & Development, bought land in the Swiss mountain village of Andermatt, where he is developing a world-class tourism destination according to the highest environmental standards. He not only successfully won the trust of the locals but also received an exemption from Switzerland’s property laws, which forbid foreigners to own land.

In a recent interview with CNN Marketplace Middle East Sawiris spoke about beating the recession in the region. (The interview commences at the 2.30 mark)

Sawiris has had a long-standing commitment to social justice and more recently he has been a major contributor in the fight against human trafficking in the Middle East. Along with Richard Branson, Sawiris teamed up with H. E. Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak in their recent End Human Trafficking Now! Campaign.

Fujairah Fun
The largest boat (143 feet) moored at the Fujairah International Marine Club is the black, Wellesand (pictured), owned by Sawiris.

A fulltime staff looks after the Wellesand and every now and again Sawiris flies to the Fujairah International Airport and within a few minutes is out on his boat enjoying life on the Fujairah waters.

But for how much longer will Sawiris have the Fujairah connection? Judging by this advertisement, his boat is up for sale at a price of just over $1.3m.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: Samih Sawiris is chairman and CEO of Orascom Development which has a clutch of companies under this umbrella. (Photo courtesy of Orascom)

Monday, January 3, 2011

‘A Diamond in the Desert’ by Jo Tatchell

The author of this fascinating book on Abu Dhabi is no blow in—blow out social commentator on the Emirates. Jo Tatchell’s early years of growing up in the nation (she is the same age as the UAE) and regular return visits have given her affection for the country and a depth of understanding. Her time away from the UAE has given to her writing objectivity and perspective.

This book is colourful, personal and evocative. Tatchell has a way with words as she recalls as a child, “the shuffling squeak of sandals across the sand” or “watching the women in black, huddled in groups like tight-budded flowers as they made turns through the pandemonium of the souk.”

Residents and observers of the Emirates will appreciate the way Tatchell captures the expatriate life in Abu Dhabi and the UAE—the feeling of being a guest in someone else’s country and the temporary nature of living from one work visa to the next, knowing that one can never gain permanent residence.

Readers wishing to learn more about Arab and Emirati culture will find intriguing statements and stories that will enhance their understanding of UAE nationals. Tatchell writes tantalizingly about such things as the ways of wasta, the lubricating influence of baksheesh, the peculiar blend of English, Arabic and Urdu that one hears in the UAE, the ongoing impact of Sheikh Zayed, the Emirati love of building and the importance of meeting people face to face to get things done.

Writing as a Londoner outside the Emirates enables Tatchell to boldly probe the walls of wealth and point up the underbelly of Abu Dhabi society. The sub-title ‘Behind the scenes’ suggests that this book is an attempt to lift up some rocks and describe some of the life that scurries away from the light. In this vein she writes about:

+ The growing number of European prostitutes that have superseded the earlier dominance of Indian dancing girls and Filipino sex workers
+ The persisting racial inequalities
+ The effort and the money that goes into beautification
+ The lifestyle of the rich that so often do as they please
+ The ample flow of illegal booze in the Emirates
+ The loss of the Arabic language and with it Gulf folklore, traditional stories, songs and medicinal remedies

Journalist Jo Tatchell sets out to chronicle the many changes in the spheres of religion, the role of women, the place of education and the development of Emirati art and culture. She does this through interviewing old identities, distinguished citizens as well as a number of ordinary people she encounters. Her task is made difficult by certain cultural barriers—the way Arabs do not want to hear and bear bad news and the discomfort of locals about going on public record for fear that they will get it wrong or be seen to be an inappropriate spokesperson on a particular issue.

When she turns to the archives Tatchell comes up against the lack of public access to information and a press that has not been allowed to write critically about the government and its leaders.

Tatchell’s return to research this book revealed a surprise at the rate of modernization and a disappointment at the loss of that which she deemed to be essentially Emirati or of Abu Dhabi. Rather than venting her anger and turning the book into a tirade about the country’s leaders Tatchell has taken the constructive route of asking important questions like these:

1. What is being Emirati all about?
2. How might the crisis of national identity be addressed?
3. What is the history of the Emirates if it is being refashioned to create a new national identity?
4. If the identity of modern Abu Dhabi is being consciously redefined what role will Islam play?
5. How does one understand the ‘current fad’ of Emirati heritage fade as “the past, is to many [Emiratis], an extraordinary reminder of the struggles, the poverty and their insignificance?”
6. How do planners develop Abu Dhabi with palatial air-conditioned dwellings and modern malls while still retaining the essence and soul of the city?
7. While Emirati women have moved along the spectrum of liberation, will this journey lead to true equality?

The title of this book, A Diamond in the Desert, indicates the positive view of the author and the worth she attributes to Abu Dhabi, past and present. The book is not a final judgement on the Abu Dhabi dream but the author believes that ‘the world’s richest city’ has a responsibility and it is on notice!

This is an important book to read as it is a case study of a city of the east wanting to dominate the west and an Islamic people who are reframing their religious principles for a modern context while earning international praise. Jo Tatchell contends that Abu Dhabi is on a course, not only of erecting structures to inspire wonder but a path of intellectual and culture empire building. Tatchell asks whether the Emirati mindset will be able to change enough to achieve this dream.

Tatchell’s provocative insights and penetrating questions will certainly draw the reader into a dialogue and stimulate rigorous debate.

Jo Tatchell, A Diamond in the Desert: Behind the Scenes in Abu Dhabi, the World’s Richest City Black Cat: New York, 2009.

Foreign Companies Needing UAE Partner is One Hell of a Business Model, FIF, 13 December 2010.
Living in the Emirates Insh’Allah, FIF, 9 December 2010.
Stuck in a Velvet Rut in the Emirates? FIF, 2 November 2010.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: Front cover of A Diamond in the Desert.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Outpouring of Affection in Fujairah for President of UNITED Arab Emirates

Prior to the New Year eve fireworks display in Dubai, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi was asked by Dubai Media hosts to identify some of the major themes of 2010 in the UAE.

Sultan mentioned the important contribution last year of the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The social commentator observed that 2010 had commenced with the highest building in the world being named in the President’s honour (‘Burj Khalifa’). He also spoke of being invited to Al Ain along with scores of sheikhs to welcome President Khalifa back to the UAE after recent surgery and the tangible show of affection that was evident for their leader.

Buildings and Pipelines
This esteem was also reflected in Fujairah last year. Representatives of Sheikh Khalifa’s emirate of Abu Dhabi are increasingly investing in Fujairah (e.g. the newly opened Concorde Hotel, the emerging hotel on the site of the Marine Club and the tall apartment tower at the bottom of the main street) and this year the capital has strengthened its connection with the new oil pipeline and associated oil infrastructure emerging in the north-eastern emirate.

Portraits and Flags
Recently a large portrait of His Highness, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was posted on the side of Fujairah’s busy Kuwait Rd. This special area also incorporates a UAE flag on a high flagpole and a plaque that conveys a national theme.

The pipelines and poles, portraits and plaques are all visible reminders that Fujairah is part of a UNITED Arab Emirates led by a President who is honored for his role and widely loved for his personal care and generous leadership.

Take a Look
Link to some photos of the area created alongside the Fujairah city bypass to recognize the role of the UAE President and serve as a kind of national glue.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: “Recently a large portrait of His Highness, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was posted on the side of Fujairah’s busy Kuwait Rd.”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Commencing the New Year in Fujairah

After lots of parties last night, the pace was noticeably slow around Fujairah on the morning of the first day of 2011.

See some of the sights and the activities Fujairah people got up to as portrayed in these photos.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

GCC Cycling Race Series Finishes in Fujairah on New Year’s Day

Perfect weather and the beauty of the Fujairah Corniche provided the ideal setting for the final race of the six leg GCC Cycling Series 2010-2011 on New Year’s Day 2011.

Here is the story in photos.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.