Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Camel Milk Soap-an Authentic Arabian Gift from the UAE

“Where did you get this gorgeous soap?” asked my wife breaking the wrapper.

The handmade organic camel milk soap looked even better in reality than viewed on the new web site which launched recently in the UAE.

The soap arrived in gift wrapping and stamped with a camel picture label but what entranced us just as much as the sight was the delicious aroma and the lovely feel of the soap.

The accompanying information sent by Pure Indulgence spells out the ingredients and marketing affirmations:

“Made by hand with the finest organic oils and pure fresh, camel milk. A natural source of alpha-hydroxy acids known to plump the skin and smooth fine lines with its anti-ageing and antioxidant properties. Contains Vitamins A, B2, C and D.”

“Camel milk assists in organic essential oils and minerals. Provides a luxurious and healthy cleansing experience for all the family.”

Hypo-allergenic. Loves your skin. No chemicals or artificial additives. Not tested on animals.”

Soap Selection

In addition to the classic Handmade Camel Milk Soap there are other varieties to try—Black Cumin Seed Oil with Camel Milk, Bear Soap (that the children will love!), Cheesecake Slice Soap, Chocolate Bar Soap, Coffee Soap, Ginger Bread Man Soap, Iced Cookie Soap, Olive, Laurel Honey Soap and Black Seed Soap. If these don’t get the kids into the bath, nothing will.

Authentically Arabian

It is good to have another camel product in addition to the Camelicious (camel milk) and Al Nassma, the world’s first camel milk chocolates.

For centuries the people of the Arabian Peninsula have used camel milk as a health food with its unique vitamins and other properties that boost the body's immune system.

Great Gift Idea

“What a great gift idea,” said my wife. “It is so good to have a beautiful product like this from the UAE to use as gifts for family and friends.”

Contact Details

Pure Indulgence Handmade Camel Milk Soap Web Site.

Contact via the web site or by email: info@camelmilksoap.com

Geoff Pound

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

New Hotel in Fujairah Suburb of Faseel

In addition to the new hotels springing up on Fujairah’s main street is this hotel (pictured) under construction in Faseel.

It is located on the Al Faseel Road (the coastal road). If you are coming from Khor Fakkan the hotel is located approximately 300 metres from the Coffeepot Roundabout on a corner block.

When it is completed the hotel will boast a ground floor, two mezzanine floors and 19 floors of rooms and amenities.

Residents on the east side will have a fabulous sea view.


The sign board lists the owners:

Dr. Jauan Salim Al Dhahri

Sh. Mohammed Sultan Al Dhahri

More Fujairah Hotels Under Construction

110 New Rooms for Fujairah at the Fortune Royal Hotel, FIF, 14 February 2011.

Hotels and Apartments Springing Up in Fujairah City, FIF, 11 June 2010.

Geoff Pound

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Expats Like Hearing the Call to Prayer in the UAE

Discussion Point

While trawling through UAE Internet forums to discover who people should talk to when the call to prayer from their mosque is too loud, it became apparent that expats and visitors overwhelmingly appreciate hearing the Call to Prayer (azaan).

In raising the matter expats were swift to recognize raising the matter to be a sensitive issue and repeatedly made the comment that “the last thing I want to do is to cause offence to anybody.”

Views on the Azaan

Here’s a sample of the reflections on the Call to Prayer when it is not beamed at a deafening volume:

“I don’t mind hearing it at any time of the day, as you say, it is all part of life in Dubai.”

“I love hearing the call to prayer. I think we must be fortunate as the mullah is quite musical to my ear.”

Written comment accompanying the posting of a video on YouTube: “Burj Dubai, world’s tallest building…the Call to Prayer started…so cool.”

“I do find the call to prayer comforting and it does remind you of where you are.”

“[It is] one of the things I love best about living here.”

“I am not a follower of Islam but the call to prayer reminds me several times each day of the important qualities in life that are beyond material things.”

“I leave our windows open because we want to make sure we CAN hear it.”

Hear and Understand

A travel writer has helpfully posted an article which provides a link for people to listen to one version of the Call to Prayer and read the words in English as well as Arabic.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: Calling the azaan in Egypt (Photo courtesy of this link).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who’d Be an Imam in Fujairah?

According to Mr. Rashid Al Dhanhani, the Manager of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Fujairah, there are currently 287 imams in the emirate of Fujairah.

Most mosques have one imam but there are a handful of mosques that have a muezzin (caller) as well as an imam (mosque leader). More imams are needed as the hope is that eventually each mosque will have two imams in order to ensure adequate coverage when one is sick or on leave.

All imams in Fujairah are male and all are married.

Not Emiratis

Of the 280 imams in Fujairah only 8 are Emiratis! The rest come from Morocco, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Syria, Egypt, and other countries with a high number of Sunni Muslims.

When asked to explain the absence of Emiratis in the ranks of imams, officials at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Fujairah gave several reasons.

An oft-stated reason is the low salary. Imams from outside of the UAE may start on 5,000 AED and each year this may increase to 7,000 AED plus a free residence.

Emirati imams start at 9,000 AED and they receive a free residence.

Tied to the Mosque

Another negative stopping Emiratis from taking up the imam vocation is that they feel they would be tied to the mosque. They are expected to be on the job five times a day and more on the day of worship. Emiratis value Friday as a family day and see that the responsibilities at the mosque as an imam would preclude much time spent with their family.

Others view the time commitments as being quite liberating saying that once early more prayers are over the imam has the whole morning to himself. While the Friday sermons are prepared at headquarters and are not written by local imams, there are mosque maintenance issues that must be attended to and certain pastoral functions.

The imam has one day off a week but he cannot be off duty on a Friday or Saturday.

New imams start with 45 days of holiday each year and after a few years this increases to 60 days of annual leave.

Ongoing Training

It is difficult to establish how much training is required to become an imam for this varies according to the formal education received prior to beginning imam training. Some College or University training is preferred and then there are several years engaged in the study of the Koran and theology.

Once a month all the imams in Fujairah are rounded up where they meet at a mosque to talk about common issues and receive ongoing training. Older, more experienced imams play a role in encouraging those who are more junior.


The head office of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments is based in Abu Dhabi. There the policies are established and the formal training is conducted. Orders are disseminated to the different emirates and the Fujairah authority is a branch of the headquarters in the capital.

Most policy and practical issues are sorted out by the Fujairah manager, who in turn has Emirati managers responsible for a number of imams in different parts of the emirate.

The imams are paid out of the Fujairah office which also oversees the movement of imams to and from Fujairah, including the determination of when it is appropriate for an imam to move on. This is done in consultation with the needs and preferences of the imam and his family.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: Photo courtesy of UAE Pics from the article Mosques in the UAE.

Monday, March 28, 2011

When the Call to Prayer from the Mosque is Too Loud in Fujairah

Where do you go in Fujairah when the call to prayer increases in volume to such an extent that it becomes deafening and even painful? Does one seek help from the Islamic Guidance Centre or take the matter to the imam in question?

The Manager of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments at the Fujairah Branch is the appropriate person to visit.

Many people visit Mr. Rashid Obaid Ali Al Dhanhani with concerns about the high volume of loudspeakers from Fujairah mosques. In his capacity as General Manager, Mr. Al Dhanhani is welcoming and he seeks to take immediate action to rectify genuine problems.

Mr. Al Dhanhani said that noise problems occur for a number of reasons such as a new mosque with amplifiers incorrectly modulated, loudspeakers being turned in a new direction or because of a new imam who gets overly excited. Sometimes the entire service is broadcast at a high volume because an imam holds the microphone too close to his lips but Mr. Al Dhanhani said he counsels the imams in the emirate to keep their microphone a good six inch distance from their mouths.


From the Fujairah Tower one heads towards the airport on Al Sharqi Road. Turn right at the Falcon Roundabout onto Airport Road so you are travelling parallel to the airport. After lots of empty space it is the second building on the right. A prominent sign is on the outside of the building but one has to enter from the rear entrance and climb the stairs to get to the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments—Fujairah branch. Take a Look!

Issue of Volume

Search the Internet and you will discover that this issue crops up in every emirate. Other people, Muslims and those not Muslims have asked the same question. This isn’t a matter of having the call to prayer silenced as expats as well as citizens usually enjoy the regularity and sound of the azan (call to prayer). It’s simply an issue about excessive volume.

Contact Details

Rashid Obaid Ali Al Dhanhani

Manager of Authority Office in Fujairah

Tel: 09 2224490

Fax: 09 2227790

Dir: 09 2222142

Mob: +971 50 6496610

P O Box 179

Fujairah, UAE

Email: rashid_alobid@hotmail.com

Geoff Pound

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

Image: A view of the building and office from Airport Road; the main entrance at the rear of the building.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Earth Hour 2011 in Fujairah with Arabic Jazz and Chinese Lanterns

Saturday Night Live

The spot lights had the historic Fujairah fort spruced up in the colours of the rainbow—red, blue, gold, purple…—with fascinating patterns shone onto the stone. [Take a look]

It was a balmy night in Fujairah and Master of Ceremonies, Maral Shuriqi, kept the programme flowing with remarks in Arabic and English. The winds from the west made the lighting of the chinese lanterns a challenge and some lanterns suffered burn out on the launch pad. Many more ascended quickly and flew for a long time over Fujairah and out to the sea.

The Arabic fusion music presented by Kamal Masallam and his international band was a superb choice but it was a pity that more were not present to enjoy their sights, sounds and rhythm.

Beyond Earth Hour

Lots of lanterns were lit up on the steps to the fort in the shape of a ‘60’. Every one who attended received a biodegradable bag courtesy of the Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS-WWF).

The bag contained a 12 watt energy efficient light bulb (thanks to sponsors Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority) with an encouragement to join Heroes of the UAE.

A Morjan key ring came as a gift from the Fujairah Municipality Environmental Protection Section.

A EWS-WWF coffee mug states, “I have done the Enviro-Spellathon.” Give it a go.

Sheets of information were distributed suggesting to people what they can do to go beyond the sixty minutes of Earth Hour. This information is on the Earth Hour web site and there is also an opportunity to sign up to an ongoing commitment and share creative ideas through a photo competition as well as by posting these on the Beyond the Hour site.

Reduce Our Footprints

The ecological footprint we share as the UAE nation is large but the way we can transform this situation is by playing our part—businesses and industries, schools and Colleges, governments and municipalities, as well as households and individuals.

Shukran Jazeelan

Thanks to the staff of the EWS-WWF, the Fujairah Municipality and the sponsors of Earth Hour 2011 in Fujairah. It was good to do something creative and entertaining together rather than ponder the issues alone at home in the inky darkness.

Geoff Pound

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

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Have You Tried Cupping Therapy in Fujairah?

Have you noticed the way many Fujairah medical centres are advertising ‘cupping therapy’ and ‘female cupping therapy’?

According to one doctor at Al Eman Medical Centre, cupping therapy (Al Hijama) is becoming increasingly popular in Fujairah, UAE.

Cure All?
People request cupping therapy for respiratory illnesses (common cold, pneumonia, bronchitis etc.), chronic diseases, muscular pain, joint pain, migraines and hypertension. It looks like it is used as a ‘cure all’.

The therapy is said to aid blood circulation and give a boost of energy.

Glass or plastic cups are applied with suction to create localized pressure. This vacuum draws the blood to the area to create a better energy flow and activate the lymphatic system. The suction causes the body tissue to release toxins, clear the blood vessels and stimulate the skin. There is a variety of treatments including one process when before or after the cupping the skin is scratched or cut to extract the blood and presumably the toxins.

The cups can be applied to a specific area where there is pain but more often they are placed on the back to give a general spurt of energy to the whole body.

According to the Faseel doctor, those with chronic pain are recommended to come for treatment every three weeks while those who undergo the therapy as a preventative measure are advised to have it every six months.

One treatment takes 20 minutes and costs approximately 300 AED. There is likely to be a variation in the cost of a cupping treatment in Fujairah and throughout the UAE.

The Faseel doctor said that patients usually feel relaxed and feel invigorated at the conclusion of the treatment.

It is said to be totally painless although it can leave temporary unsightly marks on the skin and there is also a small risk of burns.

Ancient Medicine
While this therapy is popular today it has been practised by Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks as early as 1550 BC.

Islam has encouraged cupping therapy by putting its stamp of approval on the practice when the Prophet Mohammed declared, “There is a cure in it.” (M K Abdul Samad, ‘Book of Scientific Inimitability of Holy Quran and Sunnah’)

Commendations from celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow have also been responsible for boosting the popularity of cupping therapy.

This article does not have any medical authority and it is not advocating or dissuading people from this therapy. The author has never experienced cupping or witnessed a cupping treatment. This posting was stimulated by passing signs (like the one pictured) every day and simply being curious to learn what this therapy is about!

Geoff Pound

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fujairah Celebrates Earth Hour 2011 with Chinese Lanterns and Arabic Fusion Music

Fujairah is joining the globe in style to recognize Earth Hour by flying Chinese lanterns and enjoying Arabic fusion music.

Fujairah Flavour
This free event for residents and visitors will take place at the Heritage Village in front of the Fujairah Fort.

Chinese lanterns powered by candles will be distributed as people arrive between 7.00-7.30pm.

A short video will raise awareness about climate change and inspire people to reduce their personal carbon footprint by simple things such as turning off unneeded lights.

Kamal Musallam and his group will play before and after the countdown to the hour (8.30pm) and the launching of the lanterns.

Chinese Sights
Sometimes in the evening one can see Chinese lanterns being lit on the Fujairah corniche before they rise high into the night sky. Children will love to do this at the fort.

Here’s a video on how to fly a Chinese lantern:

Middle Eastern Sounds
Kamal Musallam is from Kuwait who turned his back on a career in architecture to devote himself fully to music.

He has spent time in Lebanon, France and other European countries and he is now based in Dubai where he works as a performer and producer. Kamal is known as an Arabic Fusion guitarist who combines Arabic sounds with jazz. On Saturday night he will be in Fujairah with one of his three bands, the Kamal Musallam Group.

Get into the mood by hearing his music at this link.

All the Details
Here is a rundown of Saturday night’s programme.

Thanks and shukran to the organizers—EWS-WWF, the Fujairah Municipality, the Fujairah Media….

Thanks to the Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi and Sheikh Abdulla bin Saif Al Sharqi for their dream and work in turning the Fujairah Fort into a place where people can gather to celebrate, to compete, to enjoy entertainment and to observe important events like Earth Hour.

Join the World
You might be living in a remote part of a small country in the Middle East but look at the fun you can have in joining the largest volunteer action on the planet:

Geoff Pound

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cut Speeding in Fujairah by Setting Speed Cameras at Lower Limits

The Fujairah Police are installing more speed cameras to reduce deaths and injuries but in their current review of radar equipment it would be good to look at setting the cameras to click at lower speeds.

Currently the fixed and mobile cameras in Fujairah give a generous measure of grace to speeding drivers.

According to a speed camera operator on Faseel Road (between the Hilton Hotel and the Beach Motel) where the limit is 80 kph, the camera doesn’t click until you are driving at 91 kph.

Another operator, who had hidden his camera behind a rubbish bin on Hamad bin Abdulla Street (Fujairah’s main street), said that his camera takes the picture when a car goes 91 kph even though the speed limit is 60 kph. What a big margin for error! He mentioned this soon after clocking one car at 118 kph hurtling down Fujairah’s main street towards the corniche!

Current Remedies
Installing more cameras seems to be the answer all around the UAE and installing them on every major highway at two kilometer intervals.

Some years back it was declared that every effort would be taken to hide cameras in order to catch ‘arrogant drivers’.

The strategy to move around mobile cameras is being tried to catch those who customarily speed and slow down when they come to a fixed camera.

More Effective Cameras
A further way to try and curb speeding has been to install a new model of camera.

A brochure advertising the highly sensitive and precise Sensys SSS speed cameras says that the cameras only flash at night or in low light. They are so effective that they can track a car from 150 metres away so braking just before and after passing a camera does not work. It ‘sees’ you before you can see the camera and say ‘Cheese’!

These new cameras also capture vehicles on both sides of a road and can monitor trucks and cars separately.

The cameras are linked to the control room and such is the clarity of their photos that the police can see whether or not the speeding driver is wearing a safety belt. It does not pay now to drive without a safety belt and speed at the same time.

Amazing Grace
On the Abu Dhabi—Dubai road the speed limit has been stated as 120 kph but the oral tradition is that the cameras only take a picture at 140 kph.

Similarly, on the accident prone Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai where the limit is 100 kph, it is stated that a 20 kph grace limit operates so that the picture is taken at 121 kph.

In New Zealand where a motorist was clocked by a speed camera driving at 55 kph in a 50 kph zone he appealed saying that there should be an 8 kph tolerance allowance. The judges threw out his appeal and maintained the fine saying that “as a matter of law, there was no tolerance to driving in excess of the speed limit.”

Limited Grace
A tolerance allowance of 20 or 30 kph on Fujairah roads seems excessive in light of car accidents being the number one cause of death in the emirate.

Show grace by all means but 5 kph is sufficient!

Geoff Pound

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

Image: A conventional fixed speed camera on Faseel Road (parallel to Fujairah's Umbrella Beach) going toward the Beach Motel; a mobile speed camera on Faseel Road designed to catch speeding motorists heading towards the Hilton Hotel.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Islamic Guidance Center in Fujairah

As-Salaam Alaikum
I dropped in to Fujairah’s Islamic Call & Guidance Center to get some guidance on an issue (see below) and I was as impressed with their welcome and hospitality as I was when I first visited them.

A Sudanese man by the name of Adel heard my issue, gave some advice, served me a cup of tea and showed me around the library which holds books in Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu, Malayalam, French and Thai. It used to be a lending library until books went missing. Now people are invited to read books in the library and there were several people reading when I visited. In addition to Islamic books they have a sizeable collection of audio tapes.

From time to time they schedule public lectures and run courses in Islamic studies.

Most visitors are Muslims—residents as well as guests that come via the sea port or the airport. They also get visits from people who are not Muslims but who are curious to know more about the Islamic faith.

With Compliments
As I left I was given a bag of books bearing these titles:
The True Religion of God
Muslim Christian Dialogue
The Religion of All Time
Have You Discovered its Real Beauty?

These books provide an introduction to Islam and offer an explanation for many Muslim practices such as refraining from pork, advocating circumcision and refusing to drink alcohol.

Location and Contact
The Islamic Call & Guidance Center is open most days from 8am to 2pm and 4pm to 6pm.

It is located on Al Salam Road in Old Fujairah.
Tel: 09 2223101
Fax: 09 2229270
P O Box 764

View Islamic Call & Guidance Center in a larger map.

Recently I have been asked by several people in Fujairah about the best thing to do when the loudspeakers of a mosque seem to be set at an excessive volume which blasts the call to prayer into their homes.

The Islamic Guidance Center cannot help with this issue, nor can the local imam. The correct place to visit is the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments—Fujairah Branch. My inquiry is in process. I will keep you posted. Any other people feeling that the loudspeakers of their local mosque are set at too high a level or positioned in the wrong direction?

Geoff Pound

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Offroad Trails from Fujairah

Thanks to Andrew Scholtz who has not only done lots of offroading from Fujairah but he has recorded many of his trips for the benefit of others.

He has used the EveryTrail web platform which allows you to track your route with a phone GPS, plot your photos on the map and record the statistics related to each trip.

Andrew, as his biodata indicates, is a traveler, photographer and offroader with dreams of doing some extensive overland travel in the future. He is also a manager at Fujairah's HCT.

Fujairah Trips
If you click on Trips at the bottom of his profile, you will see records of many of the trails Andrew has recorded.

The Fujairah trips include his recent Defta Trip, Mapping East of Fujairah (through Wadi Farfar, Mamdouh Dam etc), an experiment to get from Fujairah to Masafi via an offroad route, Wadi Madha to Defta and a trip through ‘the grand canyon of Arabia’, Wadi Al Beih’. [Please note that most of these places are spelt in about six different ways even on the road signs]

Guided Trails
If you click on Guides (next to Trips), you’ll see a more extensive report of a trip from Wadi Madha to Wadi Shis and Hajar Bani Hamad.

The beauty of EveryTrail is the way it connects you to a community of likeminded people who generously share their trips (done by alpine skiing, trail running, geocaching etc.), pictures and reflections from scores of countries (check the map of the most popular destinations). For instance Andrew has recorded several trips through the Kruger National Park which will come in handy for people venturing to South Africa or at least dreaming of the possibility.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: One of the peaks around Hijer Bani Humayd out the back of Wadi Madha.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday Sermons in UAE Mosques

A standardizing process throughout the UAE has resulted in the writing and issuing of a sermon by the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, which is usually preached in all the mosques of the country the following Friday.

Friday Sermons preached in UAE mosques have been for several years posted online in Arabic, English, Urdu and Malayalam.

Some mosques are currently part of a programme to explore the possibility of certain UAE mosques being appointed on a permanent basis to have the sermon delivered in English.

Islamic Insights
The online sermon resource offers an interesting window on Islam in the UAE. A look at recent sermon titles indicate some of the family themes that are often addressed viz. charity toward parents, the role of women in society, marriage and family values.

In addition there are more specifically religious topics being dealt with including the language of the Quran, the birth of the prophet, the character of God and the place of the mosque in the community.

Down to Earth
Sometimes the Friday service will include a second sermon which may alert people to participate willingly in the census or encourage people to support government initiatives such as “The Desert Thrives with Life” campaign promoted by the UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water.

Of special interest is the sermon on Tolerance (full script for download) which encourages Muslims to respectfully recognize and show tolerance towards people of other religions.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: Fujairah mosque courtesy of this visiting blogger.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

UAE Police Triathlon Staged on the Fujairah Corniche

By 4pm yesterday (Wednesday), the Fujairah Corniche was closed to traffic to allow the staging of the UAE Police Triathlon.

The footpaths had been steamed, the flags were flying and every policeman not racing was giving orders and enjoying the festivity of the event.

A large marquee had been pitched for the VIPs in the Hilton corner of the corniche. These men who looked like they needed exercise sipped their juices and dined on dates as they watched the young police go through their paces.

The instructions seemed to take forever as the organizers explained how swimmers needed to go around the outside of the buoys. Police in uniforms and in athletic clothes stood to attention and saluted while the national anthem was played. After the starter loaded his pistol a crack rang out and the competitors leaped into the sea like a lemmings.

The swimming race quickly sorted the men from the boys. One or two gave up after 100 metres and were picked up by a Police Rescue boat. Don’t reckon on the police to save you if get into difficulties in the water. The two swimmers who emerged from the water first had a significant lead on the pack, a distance which they never relinquished for the entire race.

A growing number of supporters lined both sides of the Corniche Road and some women viewed the proceedings from the rooftop of a home overlooking the corniche. Vendors sounded hooters in the hope that they would sell more water and snacks. Many of the water bottles that supporters purchased were given to the cyclists and runners who cooled themselves down as they headed up the road.

It was hot when the race commenced at 4.30pm but by the time the last few stragglers crossed the line the temperature had dropped and the corniche looked a picture in the rich evening glow.

Individual place getters are bound to be announced in other papers but for team points, Dubai Police took the gold, Fujairah the silver and Abu Dhabi the bronze.

Take a Look
Some photos of the Police Triathlon are posted in this album.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: The winner canters home, to the cheers of the crowd, looking like he could do another lap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Too Many Fujairah Tourist Sites Closed to Visitors

Several bus loads of Asian tourists called in to tour the Fujairah Museum this morning but many more buses with cruise ship passengers skipped the museum and went straight to the Fujairah fort for a fifteen minute visit.

Fujairah Fort Closed
It was heartening that fifteen bus loads of tourists left their cruise ship to tour the emirate of Fujairah but it was disappointing that the iconic fort was closed as usual.

One tour guide said she thought it was closed because the fort was too dangerous for people to go inside.

Another Dubai-based guide said she believed the reason was that Fujairah was too poor and did not have the money for tourist guides and safety officers needed on such a site.

The large number of international tourists this morning had to be content with a gentle climb to the fort and a photo opportunity outside the front door. What a pity that tourists don’t get to see inside, hear the story of one of the oldest buildings in Fujairah and enjoy the sensational views of the city and sea from its towers!

A group of young Emirati men ventured to the level ground outside the fort and were an immediate hit with the crowd. Two women from Texas handed me their camera and asked if I would take a photo of them in the midst of these men who looked stunning in their national dress. One of the Emiratis said to anyone who wanted to hear, “Did you know that this fort was bombed by a British ship?” Two women from Sydney expressed their interest and wanted to hear more. I said to the young man, “You should be a tour guide here at the fort,” to which he replied, “I have a higher job, working as an officer at the Ras Al Khaimah airport!” I said, “Showing tourists the cultural treasures of your country could be one of the most important things you ever do.”

While there are guides at the museum and the Al Bidyah mosque it is a shame that tourists don’t get a guided tour from Emiratis at the most visited site in the emirate.

Bithna Fort Closed
From the Fujairah Fort, one tour guide said, that the next stop would be at Bithna. “Do your passengers get to go down and into the fort I asked?” “No,” she replied, “The bus stops on the side of the highway for people to take a photo.”

It would be bumpy for buses and cars to get down to the wadi and up to the terrace where the fort is located but creating a smooth road with access for buses would not be difficult.

The fort is usually locked but not to enter, explore the fascinating building and marvel at the wonderful 360 degree views of Wadi Ham, is nothing short of a tragedy.

Its importance in modern times is recognized by the way that Bithna Fort was chosen as the representative image for the emirate of Fujairah on the inaugural five dirham note, when it was printed in 1973. What’s more, the fort is only one of the many treasures for tourists to explore in this beautiful valley.

From Bithna the tour buses go to the Friday market at Masafi (which thankfully is always open for tourists to enjoy) before traipsing on to Dibba and returning to the ship via the coastal road.

Bidyah Mosque Closed
The tour guide said that the buses stop at Al Bidyah Mosque but the tourists cannot enter the mosque because it is only open between 9am and midday. Obviously no one has told the tour operators that the mosque hours have recently been extended to 5pm or even later.

Fujairah Tourists Shortchanged
While there will be times in any city when tourist sites are closed for renovations, it is inexcusable when three of the most important tourist sites are closed or open for a limited time.

The sooner these places are open, properly developed and serviced with trained Emirati guides, the better it will be for tourists as well as the wellbeing of Fujairah.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: From top to bottom: Fujairah Fort (2), Bithna Fort, Bidyah Mosque.

US Officials in Fujairah as Secretary Clinton Visits the Region

Americans in Fujairah and the UAE are getting good service for all the taxes they are paying to the US government. Two visits of a different nature are happening this week.

Consular Visit
According to a notice:
The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai will hold an American Citizen Services Day on March 16th, at the Fujairah Women’s College, a member of the Higher Colleges of Technology.

The event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Library.

All American citizens are welcome, and no appointments are required.

Consular Officers will (also) be available to answer questions about all American Citizen Services.

Consular officers will also provide notarial services and accept applications for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, passport extra pages and passport renewals.

Payment for such services must be made in cash, in UAE dirhams only. We cannot accept credit cards.

For questions before the event, email the Dubai warden or call 04-311-6000 between 8:00am – 12:30pm.

Mike Davis, an American resident in Dubai, said, “This meeting is not a special gathering to talk with Americans distressed by the turbulence in the region. This is an annual visit that the Consulate General's office makes in all of the different emirates…It is one of the advantages of having a US passport—they provide great services like this.”

Clinton Visit
On the US Department of State a video has been posted about Secretary Clinton’s meeting in Paris with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan in his capacity as UAE Foreign Minister and President of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Hopefully, there will be more information shared about ‘the events in the region’ after the meetings.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, right, during a bilateral meeting at the Westin hotel in Paris, Monday, March 14, 2011, ahead of a Group of Eight Foreign ministers summit. (Photo courtesy of Sulekha.Com)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fujairah Grain Silos to Guard Against Food Shortages

Good progress is being made on the ‘Strategic Grain Reserve’ project on a dedicated berth on the Southern breakwater berths of the Fujairah Port.

The China Harbour Engineering Company was awarded the contract on 7 June 2010 and the construction period (commencing in September) was planned to take one year.

The value of the contract awarded by the Abu Dhabi Investment Company is AED 478 million ($130 million).

The first phase involves the establishment of 14 wheat silos and six rice silos making an initial storage capacity of 250,000 tonnes. The silos come with associated equipment including load and discharge arms.

The silos are made from reinforced concrete and are 42 metres high with a diameter of 28 metres. As they rise, they are becoming quite visible as one approaches the Fujairah Port.

The purpose of the project is not only to provide sufficient grain reserves for the UAE but to provide an important grain transfer hub for other countries in the Persian Gulf.

The strategic location of the Fujairah Port has again been critical in the decision to establish the grain reserves in the eastern emirate. Fujairah is located outside the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, which has too often been blocked in times of war, thus affecting the flow of trade.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: “As they rise, they are becoming quite visible as one approaches the Fujairah Port.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fujairah International Business Forum 2011 to Explore New Horizons

Meaning Business
The first of three press meetings was held today (13 March 2011) in the Fujairah Freezone.

The 2011 Fujairah International Business Forum will be held 4-5 April 2011 in Fujairah under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, the Ruler of Fujairah.

The two day conference is sponsored by the Fujairah International Business Forum (FBF) and the Fujairah Free Zone Authority.

The Heat Creative Media Group has overall responsibility for the organization of the forum.

Varied Programme
The conference programme at Fujairah’s Al Bustan Center will include a rich mix of plenary sessions with international and local speakers, discussion forums, exhibitions, a gala event and business and sight-seeing tours of Fujairah.

International Flavour
Speakers and participants are expected from many different countries of the world. While most of the presentations will be in English, language interpretation services will be conducted in about eight different languages.

Large delegations are expected from Germany and China and the hope is that business people will discover new investment opportunities in Fujairah.

Exploring New Horizons
The purpose of a forum is largely to talk and much of the discussion will be focused around the theme—discovering ‘New Horizons in the Region’ for investment and manufacturing.

‘Let’s Make a Difference’
Members of the Forum Committee who were on hand today refuted the idea that the Fujairah International Business Forum in April would be just another ‘talk fest’.

As the Fujairah attractions and business incentives are showcased, Coordinator General, Ms Amal Alkaabi, expressed the hope that international delegates will choose to invest and establish businesses in Fujairah.

The ‘new horizons’ theme is not about business as usual but exploring new opportunities in a range of commercial sectors, with new technologies and new markets such as the increasingly popular Halal products and banking services.

Conference chairman and Managing Director of the Fujairah Freezone, Sharief Habib Al Awadhi, thanked people for attending the media conference and closed the proceedings with this challenge: “Let’s Make a Difference!”

Fujairah International Business Forum 2011 Website (which has all pertinent information, contact and registration details).

Geoff Pound

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

Images: Members of the organizing committee already doing deals and demonstrating something of the worth of the business forum; Conference chairman and Managing Director of the Fujairah Freezone, Sharief Habib Al Awadhi.

Record Attendance at 7th Fujairah Bunkering & Oil Forum (FUJCON) 2011

New Features
A record attendance of more than 250 delegates is expected by Vimla Mulchand, chief organizer of the 7th Fujairah Bunkering and Fuel Oil Forum (FUJCON) to be held in Fujairah this week.

At a Press Conference prior to the conference Vimla stated that there were would be more countries represented this year and among the countries to be waving their flags are Iraq, Gibraltar and Russia.

Vimla, who has organized all seven of the Fujairah conferences, said that this year’s conference will be notable for the way it is attracting people from Europe and the Mediterranean, not just from the traditionally supportive regions of the GCC and Asian countries.

Some companies are sending large teams to Fujairah in order to be fully updated on current trends in the oil bunkering business.

Courses and Conference
The conference is not all a matter of cocktails, coffee and cashews. Many have arrived in advance of the large gathering to participate in three courses on ‘Crude to Bunkering’, ‘Bunker Fuel Blending’ and an ‘Introduction to Bunkering’.

Varied Programme
The main conference which gets underway on Monday evening at the Siji Hotel will run until Wednesday evening and includes important receptions (over which valuable deals are struck), keynote addresses by local and international experts, Q & As and a visit offshore to view the changes at the Fujairah anchorage.

Unrest in the Region
When asked how the unrest and protesting in oil producing countries such as Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia might affect the conference programme and bunkering generally in Fujairah, Dr Mohammad Saeed Al Kindi, the Chairman of the FUJCON Steering Committee said it would have little influence. “There are high oil prices but the shortages will be filled and this will have little impact on the bunkering industry.”

Marketing manager at the Fujairah Port, John Mittlestein added, “Bunkering is about the carriage of oil and it will continue to move despite the unrest and rising prices.”

Environmental Concerns
When asked how much the conference will highlight a care for the environment as the oil industry grows in Fujairah, Captain Mousa Murad, the General Manager of the Port of Fujairah said, “Environmental concerns are extremely important to us and as an indication of this Fujairah is a signatory to the MARPOL protocol and we have implemented many of its requirements many years prior to the agreed dates.”

Vimla Mulchand added that the conference programme includes at least three addresses on environmental issues including addresses on Sulphur Emissions, Environmental Cover and Pollution Response, The Use of Fuel to Reduce Emissions and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading for Shipping.

Spotlight on Fujairah
The international conference will have a Fujairah flavour because of its location and it will be an important time to showcase the city’s strategic and service advantages as one of the world’s top bunkering locations.

The conference this year is happening at a time when huge foreign investment in Fujairah is increasing as well as the expansion of the Port to add further oil berths and extend its quay.

The new Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline, which becomes fully operational this year, will transport 1 to 1.5 million barrels per day to the growing storage facilities in Fujairah.

The spotlight this week will shine on the transformation of Fujairah into a global oil hub and the implications of this growth for other industries in the emirate.

Geoff Pound

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

Images: From top to bottom—Dr Mohammad Saeed Al Kindi, the Chairman of the FUJCON Steering Committee; Marketing manager at the Fujairah Port, John Mittlestein; Captain Mousa Murad, the General Manager of the Port of Fujairah; Ms. Vimla Mulchand, Managing Director, The Conference Connection Inc.

Scenes from Khor Kalba Beach Near Fujairah

One of the delights of living in Fujairah is the proximity to several great beaches.

A favourite beach of many is Khor Kalba beach which is in the emirate of Sharjah and only a 20 minute drive from Fujairah’s main street.

For walkers it offers a lengthy stretch all the way down to the Omani border.

For beachcombers, there are always shells, anchors and drift wood to discover.

For fishing enthusiasts, there are always displays by Bengali fishermen, catches being placed in the back of a jeep or sardines being dried on the sand.

For photographers, there are sensational sunrises and sunsets.

For the wistful, there’s an expansive sea and vista over which to look and hope.

For those tired of people, the beach offers ample solitary spaces.

For children wanting a swing or a climb, there’s a good playground.

For conservationists, there’s an important mangrove estuary and flocks of migratory birds throughout the year.

For campers, there are free places to erect your tent and cook your fish only metres from the tide.

For swimmers, this is a spacious and safe beach with the odd stingray, snake or jellyfish around to keep you on the alert.

But don’t tell anyone about Khor Kalba, one of the best beaches in the Emirates. Too many visitors would spoil it!

Take a Look
Here are some early morning scenes from the Khor Kalba beach in this album.

How to Find It
Directions to the Khor Kalba beach are written in this article.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: “But don’t tell anyone about Khor Kalba, one of the best beaches in the Emirates. Too many visitors would spoil it!”

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japanese Nuclear Explosion Sounds Warnings for UAE

As the UAE is turning to nuclear power generation to solve its future power shortages, the recent damage caused to Japanese nuclear power plants sounds a warning to the Emirates to reconsider the risks and rightness of moving in this direction.

Japanese Story Unfolding
On Friday 11 March 2011, reports emerged of damage to Japanese nuclear power plants after an 8.9 earthquake struck.

On Saturday 12 March 2011, authorities began evacuating residents near the Fukushima nuclear power plant due to the release of radioactive elements into the atmosphere. This has been interpreted as the signs of a possible meltdown at one of the reactors.

On Saturday afternoon, 12 March 2011, as workers began to repair the damage, an explosion occurred at the nuclear power plant, damaging one of the buildings.

Radiation Leakage
The evacuation of tens of thousands of people living within a 20km radius of the power plant was due to fears of radiation leakage.

An official in Kyodo said that the rate of hourly radiation leakage was equal to the amount usually permitted in one year.

A Japanese nuclear safety panel said radiation levels were 1,000 times higher than normal in a control room and 8 times higher than normal just outside the plant.

Implications for the UAE
The Japanese experience cannot at this stage be compared to the accidents at Chernobyl or Three Mile Island but it should alert UAE authorities to the risks caused by earthquakes to nuclear power plants.

In making a case to develop peaceful, civilian nuclear energy, the UAE’s White Paper carefully set out a range of safety standards and controls covering such issues as commitments to operational transparency, establishing independent regulatory authorities, the highest safety standards as they relate to power plant facilities and radioactive waste, a commitment to non-proliferation, safety in decommissioning old plants and controls to combat accidents caused through malfunction or external threats such as terrorism, sabotage and misuse of radioactive waste.

Nowhere does the White Paper specifically mention the threat of earthquakes to damage nuclear power plants and create danger for those nearby.

The earthquake damage to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant this last week should give pause to those leading the charge in the UAE towards nuclear power generation.

How might the plants be constructed and controlled to prevent similar earthquake damage keeping in mind the seismic activity in the country?

How might UAE residents be involved in transparent debate that might ultimately reassure them that nuclear power generation is the right direction in which the country should move?

Take a Look
Have a look at this video of the blast at the Fukushima nuclear power plant as it was posted by Russia Today.

The timetable and details of the Japanese earthquake experience in relation to the damage is drawn from this article in the Guardian.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: Smoke rises from Fukushima Daiichi No 1 nuclear reactor after an explosion following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. (Photograph: courtesy of Staff/Reuters)