On the Emirates’ east coast, life is intimately connected with the sea. This is the UAE’s Arabian Sea shoulder, excitingly different from the Gulf waters; bounded by mountains, sheltering romantic bays.
This is Fujairah, home to some of the best beaches in the Emirates. Here the old patterns remain the same: fishing, mending nets, and tending to the old palm frond canoes called ‘sasha’.
The east coast, quite conspicuously, was one of the last to feel the impact of development fuelled by the booming oil economy. Consequently, many of the old ways have survived. That’s what makes Fujairah so charming.
H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Fujairah’s ruler, and H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Saif Al Sharqi, deputy ruler of this emirate, have embarked on a programme that aims at enhancing the territory’s role in the UAE and the Gulf region. It hopes to become a major petroleum trading and storage hub, particularly given its favourable strategic location, just outside the Straits of Hormuz.
Fujairah’s port is the world’s third-largest bunkering centre and, importantly, is close to the Indian sub-continent with its large demand for petroleum products. Fujairah’s Free Zone project aims at strengthening this advantage. Yet the old ways persevere.
In Fujairah the ruler holds an open majlis (audience) at least once a week. This can be attended by all and underscores the plurality of the Emirates states. As elsewhere, tourism is gaining ground and Fujairah’s tourist attractions will now see upgraded hotels and leisure facilities along the coast, in both the city and elsewhere, including the fabled port city of Dibba.
The Emirate of Fujairah is the only emirate situated along the Gulf of Oman, away from Hurmouz strait. Its coasts extend along the Gulf of Oman over a distance of 90 Kilometres long. This location gives the emirate a very special strategic importance. The area of the emirate is 1165 Sq. Km., equivalent to 1.5 % of the country’s total area, excluding islands. The population is estimated to be 78,000 for 1996.
The Fujairah town comprises the Ruler’s office, governmental departments, establishments and commercial companies. Other important locations are the Fujairah Port, and the Fujairah International Airport.
The physical feature is basically formed of rough mountains, containing in between them and the Gulf of Oman, the Eastern Coastal Plains, which are very fertile lands. It possesses spectacular tourism capabilities reflected on the coasts which extend over a border coastal line, the high series of mountains connected in various locations to the Sea Coast, natural valleys and Falaj, renowned for their beautiful picturesque and mineral water.
Another well known district is Dabba Al-Fujairah, comprises the most important agricultural and livestock projects. It is also well known for fish hunting.
Fujairah is a revelation, particularly after the rest of the Emirates. It shares the East Coast, the Shimailiyyah, with the Emirate of Sharjah and the Sultanate of Oman.
If you can tear yourself away from the beach and head into the emirate, the differences are plain to see: for centuries the local economy has been based on the rich fishing of the Gulf of Oman and farming on land that is well irrigated by rainwater which runs down the Hajar Mountains.
The drive through the mountains from Dhaid — on the other side of the mountains and in the Emirates ‘proper’– is a breathtaking experience in itself. Small man-made terraces make the most of whatever level land is available.
Running through these are some of the most beautiful wadis to be found in the UAE. Fujairah city is dominated by the fort, a massive structure which is under restoration. The view from the top of the fort is nothing less than spectacular: the charming city below; the forests of date palms beyond and, out to sea, the active symbols of an age-old maritime tradition.
H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi How large is it? 1,300 sq km. How many live there? Just over 80,000. Best known for: Being the only emirate entirely on the East Coast. What else can you find in Fujairah? Picturesque Dibba with its beautiful bay; traditional fishing communities; crumbling Portuguese fortresses. Commercial hotspots: The massive Fujairah port complex which is a major international bunkering centre, and the adjacent Free Zone.