Fujairah: A Jewel of Middle East

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Fujairah one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates is famous for its stunning mountains, exquisite tropical weather, palm trees and colorful beaches. Fujairah, with its mountains, has long been known as a place of untouched natural beauty full of seaside locations. It has majestic mountain ranges and companionable weather conditions conspire to present Fujairah as an exotic land, ripe for discovery by tourists and business persons alike. Fujairah is rightly known as the jewel of Middle East.

Fujairah derives its name from a spring of water located beneath one of the mountains. The Hajar mountain range that divides the UAE in two, from Ras Al Khaimah to Al Ain has kept Fujairah separated from the rest of the country. The historical importance of Fujairah dates back to the period before the birth of Christ. It was known in the old ages as the land of sea giants. The main cities and villages in Fujairah are Dibba, Murbeh, Qidfa, Al Bidiyah, Masafi and Al-Siji. Fujairah is a land endowed with remarkable beauty.

It is indeed a gift from nature full of diversity and exquisiteness. Flowers of different colors and sizes make it delight of nature. It is a worth seeing jewel in the heart of the desert. The city offers the ideal combination of art, culture, heritage and modernity. Now, it has become hub of all kinds of regional and international games. It is situated sixty five miles east of Dubai and 130 miles northeast of Abu Dhabi.

Water surfing, yachting, swimming and deep sea fishing are few famous sports draw tourists all-round the year. It has some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the country. Water sports such as yachting, swimming, water surfing and deep-sea fishing also fascinates tourists throughout the year. Last but not the least Fujairah is the city where nature meets with humanity in its kindest, purest and simplest way. It is the only emirate situated entirely on the Gulf of Oman.

It is known for its unlimited tourism magnetisms and enchanting hospitality. Fujairah City, the capital, is an ideal destination for commercial and tourist oriented enterprises. Most of the tourist attractions are situated alongside of Hamad bin Abdullah Road. According to TRI Hospitality Consulting’s figures (November, 2012), despite regional challenges, the tourism industry in the UAE over the past year has remained strong and prosperous. The sky-high numbers of Fujairah’s tourism verify that claim.

It is the hub of aviation economy which has been producing visible multiplier effects in the overall GDP of the country. Its unique location offers free access to the major shipping routes of the world, making it the pick of ports for entrepreneurs around the world. It is the center of maritime activities. Its free economic zones provide every possible facility to businessmen, investors and manufacturers. It has become hub of steel, aluminum, copper, scrapped crafts and other merchandised commodities.

It has several tourist attractions. Fujairah has been famous for its restless efforts for preserving and reconstructing and maintaining of historic buildings. Fujairah Fort is 360 year old antique entity surrounded by date gardens. It was partially damaged by British planes in the early part of the 20th century. The fort is a mud brick structure with three major sections, including one square tower, several halls and two round towers. It was later renovated and is the only stone building along the Fujairah coast. It is surrounded by remains of few old town houses.

Nearby, a historic village filled with houses (‘arish) and fishing boats (shasha) made of palm fronds takes visitors/tourists back in the past. It gives sense of eternal peace, where silence speaks and remains in the cherish memories of all the tourists in all the days to come.

The Fujairah Museum has unlimited local antiquities which must not be missed at all while visiting to this picturesque city. It is located south of the Fort, opposite Ruler’s Palace. It takes back visitors to 3000 years of history, displaying wonderful artifacts found in archeological digs at Bithnah and Qidfa. Both local and foreign archeologists have discovered items that date back to Bronze Age. It displays pieces of steel, brass, bronze, silver and gold. It has also soapstone vessels, painted pottery, age weapons, pre-Islamic silver coins, swords of various shapes and sizes. There are so many beautiful silver jewelry collection, herbs and folkloric medicine in the museum. Another unique display is the ostrich egg dating back 2200 years, used by local ancestors as a bowl. It provides all the visitors an imaginary encounter with human civilization, evolution of traditions, customs, heritage, and the last but not the least, history itself.

Ain Al Madhab Gardens another splendid attraction for all the visitors are located in the foothills of Hajar Mountains. It is very popular with bikers, hikers and campers. The Garden is not just mineral spa, but also includes a park area and ruins of Fujairah Fort. Heritage Village, an outdoor theatre which is used for festivals including traditional singing, and folklore dances during public holidays in Fujairah. Frequent visitors recommend a stop at Snoopy Island and must proceed directly to Sandy Beach and have a great experience.

The Fujairah Heritage Village portrays the traditions, customs and ways of life for the local people. Traditional houses, farming tools, cooking utensils, and the Al Yazrah irrigation system, used for irrigating fields with a working bull is full of surprises for the visitors. It contains Fujairah Fortress and other ancient buildings, used by the Ruler’s family. The Fujairah Department of Archeology and Heritage renovated the fortress, built a mud wall around the area, and constructed a theatre to accommodate about 3000 spectators. The village offers visitors an insight into the past lifestyle of residents.

Al Bidyah Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in the UAE. It is also known as Ottoman Mosque. It is located in north Fujairah. It is located on the way between Khor Fakkan town and Dibba and is 38km north of Fujairah city, 7km north of Khorfakkan city and 25km south of Dibba town. It has a prayer hall. A central pillar separates the internal space into four squares of similar dimensions. The pillar supports all four domes seen from the exterior.

Ahmed Khalifa Al Shamsi, Chairman of the Fujairah Tourism and Antiquities Authority, said the history of the Al Badiya area dates back to 2000 BC based on a chemical analysis of fossils that were recovered from the vicinity. Fossils, old buildings and structures are a clear proof of the deep-rooted ancient history of Al Badiya locality he added.
The mosque was built using big and small-sized stones and burnt mud as glue to stick the stones together. While the two forts that encircle the mosque were built over 300 years ago, the castles along the mosque had had a facelift in 2006, Al Shamsi pointed out. He praised “the design is a civilizational innovation.”

He shared that the Fujairah Tourism and Antiquities Authority, formerly known as the Department of Heritage and Antiquities, in cooperation with the Dubai Municipality, renovated the mosque and the archaeological remains surrounding it over a year ago. It helped bring the shine back to Al Badiya village and protect its antiquities from extinction, Al Shamsi said.

Tourists with families must not forget to have live experience of bull butting in the city. Every Friday, tourists and local families gather at an open field to watch the battling of bulls. The day begins with 20 bulls and winners move to the next round. Bull Butting has grown to be a major attraction in Fujairah. Bithna Fort and Al Hayl Castle are another two important and distinctive attractions for tourists/visitors.

The famous Fujairah port is an important port for container liners and the world’s largest livestock shipping companies have set up their main holding station for cattle for the entire Arabian Peninsula here.

UAE has achieved a strategic milestone during this year by successfully inauguration of crude oil pipeline ($3.3 billion) that runs from Habshan oilfield. Initially, it has 1.8 million-barrel-per day capacity which would be increased in the days to come. Khadem Abdullah Al-Qubaisi, managing director of the International Petroleum Investment Co said “500,000 barrels of oil were pumped for around 400 kilometres through the new link from Abu Dhabi to the port of Fujairah went to a refinery in Pakistan. It was shared with the visiting journalists invited by National Media Council on the eve of 41th National Day Celebrations. Moreover, collaboration between Fujairah Port and Karachi Port Trust has already achieved great momentum. It is of a great significance in light of the huge shift of trade and commerce from West to East.
His Highness Sheikh Saleh bin Mohamed Al Sharqi, and Chairman of Fujairah Port besides being responsible for aviation, economic and industry said that Fujairah Free Zone could become the galvanizing factor for further improving business relations in various sectors between Pakistan and the UAE, which are tied in deep rooted and eternal bonds of friendship.

The new pipeline is capable of pumping as much as 1.8 million barrels a day and has eight tanks with a storage capability of one million barrels each, nine multi-purpose pumping terminals and three offshore loading facilities, he explained. He projected its strategic significance by saying “The pipeline is the most important project of its kind so far for the emirate of Abu Dhabi as it transports oil to Gulf of Oman bypassing the Strait of Hormuz and therefore reduces time, effort and money of exporting oil”.

Saeed Al Dhanhani, director of the office of the Ruler of Fujairah said the opening or operationalization of the pipeline to export the UAE’s oil through Fujairah will add a boost the emirate’s economic development to keep up with its tourism boom. The strategic location of Fujairah is extremely important both regionally and internationally as the world focuses its attention on having and sustaining energy sources. Fujairah is the only emirate on the other side of the Strait of Hormuz, which gives it access to the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean beyond. Its location is transforming this emirate, it is predicted that it would be one of the hot spot in the world energy in the days to come.

According to U.A.E. Minister for Energy Mohammad bin Dha’en Al Hameli. The oil will be pumped to an 8 million barrel facility, allowing Abu Dhabi to export half of its crude via tankers departing from Fujairah. In 2014, Abu Dhabi will build a liquid natural gas (LNG) pipeline, terminating at a new gasification facility at the Fujairah port. In all, these networks will allow ships to load and offload in Fujairah, avoiding a risky sail through the Strait of Hormuz. Other Gulf countries are negotiating for access to these networks.

The government of Fujairah is planning to develop an offshore island to attract more tankers. Three international class shopping malls have recently opened, and several luxury hotels are being built to accommodate visitors, who will travel along a new $1.7 billion highway from Dubai that has halved driving time to 45 minutes

Most recently, UAE has further consolidated its economic diversification drive. Most recently, the biggest textile factory of the Middle East has been built in Fujairah. Its producing capacity is 10,000 tonnes of cotton per annum. The project was built at a cost of Dh225 million (US$61.2m) by the Azerbaijan government, in partnership with Fujairah Government. It is indeed a giant step in further diversification of the UAE economy. It has a capacity of 45,600 spindles. It is 44,250 square metre factory which is estimated to make Dh140m in sales per year, employs a workforce of about 225 people. The yarn will be used as a raw material for industries such as clothing and garment-making, as well as knitting furniture fabrics. It will be exported to markets in Asia, the United States, North Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

A new steel factory will turn out one million tons annually. A storage terminal will hold 275,000 metric tons of grain. The International Petroleum Investment Co., the Abu Dhabi government owned firm behind the new crude pipeline, is building a refinery at a cost of several billion dollars, which it says will process 200,000 barrels of oil per day.

Fujairah is the world’s second-largest supplier of bunkering services, fueling ships at sea on a scale lower than only Singapore, with 24 million metric tons of fuel sold in 2010. Oil companies such as Azerbaijan’s Socar and Vopak, from the Netherlands, are expanding their existing storage capacity, adding huge tanks along the coast. BP (BP) has returned to oil trading in the region after a 10-year hiatus, chartering a 22,000-ton barge, the largest in Fujairah, for bunkering services. By 2015, local officials estimate, Fujairah’s fuel storage capacity will triple, with 360 units holding more than 13 million cubic meters of oil and oil products, three-fourths of the amount that currently passes through the Strait of Hormuz in a single day. “Fujairah is developing from a regional hub into a global logistics hub,” says Cees de Greve, general manager of Vopak’s Fujairah operation.

The Fujairah Port is an important port for container liners and for the world’s largest livestock shipping companies, which have set up their main holding station for sheep and cattle for the entire Arabian Peninsula here. Its strategic location, which provides easy access to international shipping routes, has played a key role in its development as one of the world’s top oil-bunkering ports. Over 40 giant tankers pass through the port daily. The Government’s liberalized procedures and well-structured infrastructure provides excellent support for entrepreneurs to build, grow and diversify. The Department of Industries and Commerce provides every infrastructural facility for business in Fujairah to boom.

Concluding Remarks

Fujairah is the land of art, culture and heritage. It stands for its spectacular beaches and adorable hospitality. It is famous for its cultural miscellany. It blends primeval with modernity. It charms visitors and tourists with fascinating nature and friendly weather. It has now become center of all kinds of water sports. It is also known for its free zones where economy and government commitments converge to do better. It is the place where taciturnity wins unlimited hearts. Let us go to Fujairah, the jewel of Middle East and have lots of fun and excitement.

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