Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Beaches and Shells of Fujairah and the UAE

A practical introduction to the beaches and shells of the UAE and particularly, Fujairah and the East Coast, is contained in the 50 page illustrated eBook, Rough Sheller's Guide to the Northern Emirates.

Fascinating Author

The author, Dr. Sandy Fowler, was a long time resident of Dubai and an enthusiastic member of the Dubai Natural History Group. After his death in 2009 an obituary was written to sum up his immense contribution but this short book captures something of his wit, curiosity and passion for the beach life of the region.

Where to Go for Shells

Catch the flavour of the book from the author’s introduction:

“But, none of these publications [definitive reference books] told collectors WHERE to go. It was like telling birders there were vultures to be seen in the Emirates, but not that the top of Jebel Hafit was the place to go!”

“My work….is to help shell collectors…find the beaches they want to access, and to help select beaches on which to collect particular varieties of shells.”

“Because many of the beaches have no names on any map, I’ve been forced to give them nicknames. Some are shell-descriptive, some geographically informative, and some just plain whimsical.”

Sandy’s Style

In a few words one gets a good understanding of the author’s humour and practical intent. Dr Sandy’s honesty and humility shines through in these lines:

“This is a personal, opinionated, unedited one man’s view of shelling in the U.A.E., warts and all. You may disagree with some of my descriptions – fine! Argue with me.”

“You may claim there’s a better beach I haven’t described – great! Tell me how to find it.”

“You may have found shells I haven’t in places they haven’t been described before – super! Let’s have a shelling workshop and share our findings. And if you still think this is a pretty amateur piece of work – no problem. Produce your own version, and I’ll be the first to read and enjoy it!!”

The Northern Emirates

The focus of this guide is on the Northern and East coasts of the Emirates because of practical reasons that the author outlines but about this coastline Dr Fowler says, “Here is the cream of the shelling, with a sandy/rocky coastline.”


Dr Fowler’s knowledge and experience as a physician led him to include practical sections on the dangers of searching for shells in the UAE summer, a discussion of shell species that spit venom and first aid tips for shell hunters.

His listing of GPS coordinates for the various UAE beaches highlights the usefulness of this book.

Even if readers are not interested in searching for shells, this book provides a good introduction to the main beaches of the Emirates.

Tides of Change

This book was written in 2005 so there will be details that are out of date. Dr Fowler was aware of the changing scene of beaches and shells as he writes in his introduction about the very different scenario when he arrived in the Gulf in 1987.

The author adds a postscript ‘two years on’ after the book was first published in which he includes this gem:

“The ________________ corniche [read it to discover the answer] has emerged as THE place to find shells in quantity.”


Sandy Fowler, Rough Sheller's Guide to the Northern Emirates.

This 50 page eBook can be downloaded in different ways at this link on the Emirates Natural History Group website.

Geoff Pound

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

Image: The front cover of the book, Rough Sheller's Guide to the Northern Emirates.

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