Umm al-Quwain, the unsung emirate

Going south after our failed Musandam venture, our driver (you know, the one who had forgotten his passport) tried to persuade us to go directly from Ras al-Khaimah to Ajman, and give Umm al-Quwain a miss. But in my quest to see every single emirate, that simply would not do. He finally caved.

The reason for his reluctance could have been that as Umm al-Quwain is located on a peninsula, it’s a bit off the main motorway. More likely though, it was because he was quite unfamiliar with the place. Fortunately, he wasn’t too proud to ask for directions. But having been a Dubai taxi driver for 15 years, I would have expected him to know the entire country; it’s not that big. But again, that could be a commentary on the popularity (or lack thereof) of the lesser known emirates. All the more reason to at least have a look, I think.

After getting lost for a bit, we finally arrived in Umm al-Quwain. With only 66 000 inhabitants, it’s the smallest of the emirates, and like RAK, it suffered from a drainage problem. Apart from that, it’s a nice enough – if sleepy – little principality. And relatively close to how I imagine the emirates must have looked in their pre-oil boom past.

The soor of Umm al-Quwain

I wanted to see the old city wall, the soor, from 1820, and again our man was at a loss. “Never heard of it,” he said. But by now he was determined to find out and after asking a few locals (apparently they didn’t all know either), he found it. We had a pleasant leg stretch about the place; felt nice after that needlessly long drive. The soor has towers and a large gate and benches nicely spread out; worth a look and a stroll.

Every emirate has a museum and Umm al-Quwain is no exception. We didn’t see it, but according to LP’s guide to the Arabian Peninsula it’s beautifully restored. Also, Dreamland Aqua Park is nearby – the world’s largest apparently – which our man assured us was very nice indeed. So at least he knew that. Lately, UAQ’s Falaj Al Mualla-district is becoming a bit of an extreme sport hot spot… well, spot, anyway.

Next: Ajman

16 Responses to “Umm al-Quwain, the unsung emirate”

  1. Robert G. 18 February 2011 1444 #

    Very cool you seeing all these virtually unknown places!

    • Anne-Sophie 18 February 2011 1446 #

      Wow, that was quick – I just posted this a few minutes ago!!

      • Robert G. 18 February 2011 1456 #

        Google Reader :)

  2. inka 18 February 2011 1458 #

    Thanks for sending this page to me, Sophie. I missed a ot of the small emirates, but then I only had a few days. They are world on their own, don’t you think?
    inka recently posted..Going East – the second half of the year

    • Anne-Sophie 18 February 2011 1541 #

      Thanks, Inka. Yes, they really are a different world.

  3. jason 18 February 2011 1531 #

    Yet another principality that I’ve never heard of. Sophie I’m counting on you to visit all these out-of-the-way places that aren’t that intereesting so I don’t have to.
    It’s in another part of the world, but have you been to the (quasi) principality of Sealand yet?
    Jason
    jason recently posted..The Evolution Of A Volunteer Decision

    • Anne-Sophie 18 February 2011 1540 #

      Interesting these micro-states. Never heard of Sealand but I just looked it up and noticed it’s just a few kilometres of the shores of Suffolk, which is just a quick flight (or a longer boat ride) away. Thanks for pointing it out. Wonder if it’s part of the European Union. And if it’s possible to visit.

  4. Kim A. 18 February 2011 1656 #

    You really do go to some oddball places :)

    • Anne-Sophie 25 February 2011 1520 #

      :)

  5. Michael Hodson 18 February 2011 1732 #

    I am soooo looking forward to getting over to this part of the world in the next few weeks. Thanks for a little look-in.
    Michael Hodson recently posted..Worst Water I’ve Ever Drank Sudan Desert

  6. Sonja 18 February 2011 1818 #

    What an interesting quest – to visit every emirate! Good for you!
    Sonja recently posted..Photo Friday- The Art of Paris

  7. Wanderluster 18 February 2011 1820 #

    Very cool – here’s a place we never hear about!
    Wanderluster recently posted..Passports with Purpose Village – Photo of the Day

  8. Camels & Chocolate 18 February 2011 1822 #

    That’s crazy–I’ve never heard about this place, much less couldn’t pronounce it to save my life =)
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Photo Friday- Copenhagen- Denmark

  9. RyukyuMike 20 February 2011 0055 #

    Always enjoy following your travels, wherever they take you. That little doll, your eldest?
    What a sweetie; keep her close!

  10. Sabina 23 February 2011 1052 #

    Well, so Umm al Quwain sounds more interesting than RAK. I can see you’re saving the best for last – Sharjah (haha!) Your daughter is adorable!

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