Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fujairah Seeks an Ambitious Future in Tourism Says Patrick Antaki

Patrick Antaki, Complex General Manager at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, (including General Manager of Le Méridien Al Aqah and General Manager of Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa in Dubai) and member of the Fujairah Tourism and Antiquities Authority (FTAA), delivered a keynote address (in French) at the France-Fujairah Forum (29 September 2011) on tourism—past, present and future—in Fujairah, UAE.

Here are some of his salient points.

Welcome to the land of the giant sea…the land of the Emirate of Fujairah…the mountains of Hajar.

The shores off the coast of the Arabian Sea are characterized by their unique location at the Strait of Hormuz and the gateway to the Indian Ocean.

Fujairah represents about 70 km of coastline that adjoins the Hajar mountain range. It possesses a charming and magical landscape, representative of our tourism locally and globally.

Stability, Scenery and Antiquity

The emirate of Fujairah currently has 180,000 inhabitants who all live in peace, security and peace under the leadership of the ruler of the emirate, His Highness, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi and the Crown Prince, His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi.

The Emirate of Fujairah has all the ingredients for the development of a thriving industry of tourism as the beautiful beaches and archaeological sites illustrate the depth of human history in the region and the legacy of tradition and civilization.

Major Landmarks
The Fujairah Fort, considered the most important structure, was built in 1670 BC along with its accompanying towers and buildings and is located in what is now called the ‘Old Town’.

The Palace of Al Hayl, located 8kms south of the city, was the seat of government and a centre of control and protection for the surrounding areas.

Al Bithna Fort was built in 1735 AD at the entrance to the village of Al Bithna, 13 km west of the city of Fujairah. Historically, it has played an important role in in the security of a strategic corridor in the Hajar Mountains and the valley of the Ham, considered one of the most important valleys of the emirate.

The newest monument in Fujairah is the mosque of Al Bidiya that was built 400 years ago and reflects the distinguished style of construction and architecture of that era. The building has the characteristic cupolas and a single column in the middle that is sculptured from the mountain rocks surrounding the mosque.

Types of Tourism

Tourism programs available in the emirate are multiple and meet all the needs of visitors.

There is family entertainment in the gardens, parks and shopping centers.

Cultural tourism is important in the many monument sites scattered throughout the emirate. They represent an attraction for those wishing to increase their knowledge of ancient civilizations, customs and traditions.

Marine tourism is a major tourism sector in Fujairah with water sports such as swimming, diving, surfing and fishing.

The emirate has all the basics of tourism and diverse landscapes that characterize the environment: mountains, meadows, orchards, beaches that extend from the center of the emirate of Fujairah up to Dibba.

In addition to the natural wealth of the emirate and heritage, there have also been springs and waterfalls representing a favorite among locals and tourists. Among the hot springs that have had therapeutic value are Ain Ghamour and Ain Madhab.

Wadi Waruyah has been transformed a few years ago into a protected nature reserve that was the first of its kind in the UAE and is expected to be the most visited tourist destination in the country.

History of Fujairah Tourism

The Emirate of Fujairah has testified a great renaissance in terms of urban and economic despite the age of the tourism industry that does not exceed 32 years.

Here are some milestones:


Al Fujairah became known as a tourist destination in 1979 following the construction of a small hotel, the Al Fujairah Hilton located on the beach in the city of Fujairah. This hotel was one of a smaller group of Hilton hotels worldwide. It had 100 rooms and 26 chalets that were sufficient at that time to accommodate the visitors to the emirate.


To fully enjoy the potential of tourism in the emirate, Fujairah's first resort was built in the area of Al Aqah in 1980 as an initiative of the government and under the direction of His Highness. This is the Sandy Beach Resort and was known as one of the best places on the east coast to spend the holidays and enjoy the white sand, the calm and serenity.


More than 22 years later, the coastline at Al Aqah is going through a great evolution, and in 2002, there was the construction of the Le Méridien Al Aqah.

Hotels Developing Tourism

Le Méridien Al Aqah is a project owned by the Emirates Group whose implementation was overseen by His Highness, Sheikh Ahmed Saeed Al Maktoum and is currently managed by a group of hotels.

Le Méridien luxury reflects a combination of expertise in the luxury hotel industry worldwide in the Emirate of Fujairah and as a means of developing a tourist destination. This is indicated by His Highness, Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Chairman of the Department of Industry and Economy in Government of Fujairah, in a press release in which he made this important statement:

"We noticed the importance of hotels to attract more tourists to the UAE, which will help to establish Fujairah among the world tourist centers. It was a relatively small investment for Emirates Company but one giant leap for us, and it proves their confidence in the tourism potential of Fujairah.”

Sheikh Saleh also said:

"We have concentrated on the world oil industry which is already part of our field of experience. We know we need help to get started in tourism so the resort at Le Méridien Al Aqah is seen as the result of a new strategy. Following the example of Dubai, Fujairah authorities have taken measures to create a new database product, such as setting up the infrastructure in the emirate and working at a global promotion of publicizing the Fujairah.

He continued:

"The key to the success of Dubai has occurred as a result of successful marketing plans and ideas and we must also concentrate on doing this so that the name of Le Méridien Al Aqah is known globally. Furthermore, the proliferation of Emirates Airlines has produced international investor interest in the Emirate of Fujairah and its tourism projects.”

More Hotels Wanted

During that time, a few years ago, the forecast for increased growth was evident in the development of the principality of Al Amara, in general and the area of the beach Al Aqah in particular, which has inspired me personally to announce loudly and with great pride, ‘That we want more hotels here, because, in addition to the competition, the existence of more hotels would give more choice to potential customers, and thanks to the growing number of hotel rooms, we could focus our efforts on charter flights, so that Fujairah becomes a real tourist destination. Moreover, the publicity would benefit Fujairah as a new tourist destination and together we would achieve our common goals."

High Tourism Confidence

Tourism generally in Fujairah and in the region of Al Aqah in particular, has increased the hopes of people interested in tourism and hospitality. The corporate advertising has heightened active awareness of the emirate. Infrastructure, services and especially the highly developed network of roads, have all helped attract investors to the region that has been completely transformed from the reality of nine years ago.

Current Hospitality Status

Currently, the emirate of Fujairah has 31 buildings, including 14 hotels with most hotels being 5-star, or 4-star located in the Al Aqah area. These are Le Méridien Beach Resort Al Aqah, Hotel Miramar, Hotel Rotana and the Sandy Beach Resort, which has benefited in the past few years from major changes such as the enlargement of its buildings, which has enabled an increase in its capacity.

There are also, not far from Al Aqah in the region near Al Fakit, Dibba, several Fujairah resorts. I quote them by date of construction: Holiday Beach, Royal Beach, Radisson Blue (formerly JAL) and Golden Tulip.

In the city of Fujairah, where the capital of the emirate is located there are the several hotels. In the downtown there is the Al Diar Siji Hotel, which is the first hotel in this location, is within two miles of the beach and is close to the area of new hotels opened during the last two years: the Hotel Concorde, Arjan Rotana Hotel and Coral Tower residence.

Currently, the Emirate of Fujairah also includes 17 hotel apartments around the city and even in towns. These have been attracted by the active tourist movement in the emirate, which has in turn strengthened the investment in tourism projects like hotels, apartments and restaurants for the service of tourists.

Having witnessed the development of tourism, over the past decade, we can say that the national and international investment directed to the tourism sector has exceeded expectations and will continue to persist and grow in the hospitality in the emirate over the coming years.

Rooms and Apartments

We currently have 2777 rooms and 698 apartments with about three quarters of a million tourists and travelers according to the 2010 official statistics.

Future Projections

There are forecasts that go beyond one million tourists by the end of 2011. We consider there will be an increase in the number of hotel rooms that will reach 4500 rooms in the next two years.

Ambitious Future

The Emirate of Fujairah is seeking that tourism might have an ambitious future with its the continued development and global awareness.

The ambition of the emirate is that it might have a promising future in tourism that is encouraged by specific investments in this sector, through major projects and special development programs.


One of Fujairah’s Greatest Tourism Assets, FIF, 5 June 2011.

Fujairah Catering for the One-Day Tourist, FIF, 7 March 2011.

Cruise Ships Present Lucrative Tourism Opportunity for Fujairah, FIF, 19 December 2010.

Fujairah: A Place for Tourists to ‘Chill Out’, FIF, 16 December 2007.

France-Fujairah Forum September 2011

Fujairah Welcomes the French Highlighting Emirate’s Strategic Location, FIF, 2 October 2011.

French Business Council Has Firm Ambitions to Invest in Fujairah, FIF, 1 October 2011.

Crown Prince Seeking to Attract More French Companies to Fujairah, FIF, 30 September 2011.

Fujairah Forum Welcomes the French, FIF, 27 September 2011.

French Day in Fujairah is Magnifique!, FIF, 12 September 2011.

Geoff Pound

More Fujairah news, resources, photos and videos are posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

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