Fujairah, the friendly emirate

We’ve come to our last emirate, Fujairah.

Some of the seven we quite liked, others had less to offer. However, this is a region – and country – undergoing incredibly rapid development. By next year, they may all have heaps of interesting things to see and do. All the same, for now, I’m happy to finish this series with friendly Fujairah.

A bit weary of visiting all these emirates, the girls weren’t exactly enthusiastic about travelling to yet another one. Nor was I, for that matter. But with just one to go, we couldn’t very well give up, so off we went. I’m glad we did.

Fujairah roundabout

UAE roundabout

“Why you want to go Fujairah?” our driver asked. “It has nothing. It is like Ras Al-Khaimah.” Lonely Planet seemed to agree, saying there’s really no reason to linger in Fujairah. I beg to differ. As it turned out, the last emirate was to be one of my favourites. Fujairah city is basically one street, albeit a long one, with quite a few very modern high-rises, as well as a few creatively decorated traffic roundabouts. There’s also a pleasant promenade along the coast with a huge play ground spread out on the lawn along the waterfront; very child friendly. Furthermore, some of the country’s best beaches are in Fujairah.

Fujairah fort

But what I liked best was Fujairah Fort. For the first time in the UAE, I felt a real sense of history beyond the last 50 years. From the early 1500s, Fujairah fort is perched atop a hill; rather impressive-looking – and reminiscent of some of the Cathar strongholds dotted around the countryside of Languedoc that so fascinate me. We walked about, exploring all we could as the sun began to set. The stones were warm to the touch. A musty scent filled the air. On the not-too-distant horizon, the lights came on in the futuristic Fujairah city. I had a sudden impulse to camp out by the fort for the night. But we didn’t.

Fort, UAE

Near the fort, was Fujairah Museum. We skipped this one as well. A bit sad that. But Catarina had been so good for so many days of travelling. Now she said home and swimming pool, and I let it be her call. There’s really just so much you can ask of a 7-year-old.

Heading back towards Dubai, we passed through two villages, Masafi and Dhaid. Masafi is famous for its (bottled) water and the Friday Market (which in fact is every day), the latter being mostly carpet sellers along the road through town. According to our driver, mostly Russians stop to buy. I assume he knows what he’s talking about. No Russians about when we passed though. Coming or going. Not a good day for business, apparently. By the time we got to Dhaid, darkness had set in and the mosque was lit up. Very pretty. As was yet another creative roundabout. I like Arabian roundabouts. I really do.

Fujairah is wedged between various bits and pieces of Oman. To the south is Muscat. Such a wonderful name, isn’t it? Like Samarkand and Mesopotamia. And the Khyber Pass. Names so full of promise… adventure, excitement, even danger…

But I digress. I’d like to hire a car and drive from Muscat, stop for a bit at one of the Arabian Ocean beaches, then have a look at the unfamiliar Omani enclave Madha. I’d then continue to Musandam (the other and rather better-known Omani enclave) for a closer look.

The next Middle Eastern article on Sophie’s World will cover a day at the starkly beautiful Musandam Peninsula. And the Strait of Hormuz. Exciting stuff… maybe.

15 Responses to “Fujairah, the friendly emirate”

  1. Michael Hodson 9 March 2011 1850 #

    that fort looks quite cool — glad you finished up all of these.
    Michael Hodson recently posted..My Favorite Travel Books Part One

  2. Tina T. 9 March 2011 2342 #

    The fort looks so interesting and mysterious.

  3. Andrea 10 March 2011 0433 #

    I find I often disagree with the guidebooks…to each his own, I suppose! Well done for visiting them all.
    Andrea recently posted..Taking the Long Way to Pucón

  4. Daniel N. 10 March 2011 0455 #

    Fujeirah is really a nice little town and a great spot for snorkeling actually. A little bit North there’s a town called Dibba which is a border town (with the Oman enclave) and is actually split in 3 parts. One part belongs to Oman, one part to Fujeirah Emirate and the last part belongs to Sharjah Emirate.

    You will have a blast in Mussandam, it’s one of my favorite places and we very often went to camp for a weekend there to escape the chaos of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
    Daniel N. recently posted..Golden Buddhas Thailand

  5. Jason 10 March 2011 0630 #

    This place sounds a lot better than RAK…I do like the fort: did you go inside?
    Jason recently posted..Inca Kola- Liquid Bubblegum

    • Anne-Sophie 13 March 2011 0020 #

      @Jason: No, we just walked around it. It was fairly late and no one was about – and I’m not sure it’s possible to go inside.

  6. Camels & Chocolate 11 March 2011 1943 #

    Yet another spot in the Middle East I’ve never even heard of! But then again, that’s my favorite reason for participating in Photo Friday in the first place.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..On Where I Am at the Moment

  7. Wanderluster 11 March 2011 1956 #

    Loved your description of the fort – this whole series has been great!
    Wanderluster recently posted..Helicopter High on Kauai- Photo of the Day

  8. Ayngelina 12 March 2011 1957 #

    I rarely listen to guidebooks and take advice from others with a grain of salt, traveling is so personal what one person loves another could hate.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Is traveling with children selfish

  9. Robert G. 12 March 2011 2215 #

    Fujairah sounds really nice. I’m off to the UAE shortly on business. Maybe that would be a nice break from Dubai.

    • Anne-Sophie 13 March 2011 0024 #

      @Robert: I think you should. Hang at the beach, explore Fujairah city, check out the fort and the museum…

      @Daniel: Yes, I saw Dibba on the map and wondered about it. The Musandam was indeed beautiful, but also a bit odd. I’ll write a post about Khasab soon.

      @Wanderluster and everyone: thanks :)

  10. Sabina 14 March 2011 0510 #

    Shoot, I wish I’d gone to Fujairah. I didn’t know they had a fort – I love forts – and I also love those Arab roadside decorations. They have those in Doha also, and there are tons in Muscat. Well, when I head back to the UAE, I’ll be going to Fujairah, that’s for sure.

  11. Kim A. 14 March 2011 1109 #

    Love the forts of the Arab world. They fit so well in the desert landscape and look very ethereal and cool at night.

  12. Kangayayaroo 8 August 2011 2009 #

    I’m impressed that you made a point of visiting all the emirates. Many people live in Abu Dhabi or Dubai and never get outside the cities. We’ve just moved to Fujairah after living in Dubai for three years. We love it.
    Kangayayaroo recently posted..Dear Waitstaff,

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 16 August 2011 1250 #

      @Kangayayaroo – Even though some of the emirates didn’t seem to have all that much to interest visitors, I’m glad we took the trouble. Fujairah was one of our faves.

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