Fujairah, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The easternmost of the seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Fujairah is the only one that has a coastline solely on the Gulf of Oman and none on the Persian Gulf. Fujairah spans approximately 450 square miles (1,166 square kilometres), or about 1.5% of the area of the UAE, and is the fifth-largest emirate in the UAE. Fujairah is also the only United Arab Emirate that is almost totally mountainous. All of the other emirates, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are located on the west coast and largely covered by desert. Rainfall is higher than the rest of the UAE, partly because of the effect of the mountains that encircle the emirate, and partly because the prevailing easterly winds bring in water-laden clouds off the warm Indian Ocean. Consequently, Fujairah boasts above-average rainfall, enabling farmers in the region to produce a crop every year.
Although archaeological ruins at Bidya, Bithnah and Qidfa reveal that the area has been settled for at least 3,500 years, Fujairah remained a traditional fishing town for many centuries to follow. Its modern history dates back to 1902, when Fujairah entered into treaty relations with Britain, thus becoming the last of the emirates to join the Trucial States, a group of sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf. Fujairah is also the youngest of the Emirates, only becoming independent from Sharjah in 1952 and joining the UAE in 1971. Prior to joining as the seventh emirate, Fujairah was a British protectorate. The construction of the Port of Fujairah, which commenced in 1978 and concluded in 1983, made it the only multi-purpose port on the eastern seaboard of the United Arab Emirates. Since then, Fujairah has experienced considerable development. Today, it enjoys a bustling economy due to its abundant natural resources, agricultural, boat-building and fishing industries, a thriving seaport and free trade zone, and burgeoning tourism trade.
Fujairah offers a wealth of opportunities to explore its fascinating culture and heritage. The Fujairah Museum, Heritage Village and adjacent Fujairah Fort all display historic garments, tools, pottery, currency, and other artefacts to discover. Fujairah is also home to several old ruins, including the Fujairah Fort. Built in 1670 to protect the city from invaders, it is surrounded by the old ruins of houses erected during this era. The revered Al Bidya Mosque dates back to 1446, ago and was once used for traditional Muslim religious ceremonies. A short drive from Fujairah, the historic Al Hayl Fort was once home to the ruler of this country, and used for surveillance and patrolling. Like the Fujairah Fort, this landmark building was also used to protect the city. West of Fujairah is the Al Bithnah Fort, formerly used to guard the route across the Hajar Mountains.
With a stunning setting of wide sandy beaches set against a backdrop of the rugged Hajjar Mountains, Fujairah offers many picturesque and memorable outdoor activities. Overland excursions include Hajar Mountain Jeep tours, Camel Rock and Fossil Rock desert safaris, exploring ancient forts, villages and wadis, nature walks at the Bithna Oasis, tennis, and golfing at the Tower Link Golf Club Ras Al Kaimah. The wide, white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters in-and-around Fujairah are ideally suited for a wide array of water sports and activities, including jetskiing, waterskiing, surfing, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, and boating and yachting along the stunning Musandam Fjords and Gulf of Oman Islands. Fujairah also boasts some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving in the UAE; popular sites include Dibba Rock, Oman Musandam and Khor Fakkan, among others.
Please Note: Although the dress code in the UAE is more relaxed than elsewhere in the Middle East, it is still relatively conservative. As a rule, women should not wear miniskirts, shorts or sleeveless tops, and men should always wear a shirt in public. Please do not photograph people without their permission, especially women. The photography or videotaping of government buildings, embassies or anything military in nature, including airports, is strictly prohibited.
Going Ashore in Fujairah
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Fujairah Port. Fujairah's town centre is located five miles (eight kilometres) from the port. Complimentary shuttle bus service to a convenient location in town is offered in the morning and afternoon. Metered taxis are generally available outside the port's main gate; please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey.
Fujairah is renowned for its pottery, rugs, handicrafts, fruit, and spices. Electronics, cameras, watches, fashions, fabrics, perfumes, and cosmetics can be found at the Lulu Mall, located three miles from the port, Fujairah City Centre, located six miles from the port, and the Century Mall. The Tourist Night Souk, located along the Fujairah Corniche, offers 100 outlets of shopping, food and entertainment. At the bottom of the main strip, Hamad bin Abdullah Road, is the traditional Central Souq. Here, locals shop for meat, fish, produce, dates and spices. Another option is the Friday Market, located along Dubai-Fujairah Road on the approach to Masafi Village. This bustling market features colourful stalls filled with the season's freshest fruit and vegetables, along with earthenware, rugs, souvenirs, handicrafts, and antiques. Stores are generally open from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. from Saturday to Thursday. Bargaining is normal in the souqs and most small shops; larger establishments and department stores have fixed prices. The local currency is the Dirham; U.S. Dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.
Fujairah offers everything from traditional Arabic fare to Asian, Indian, Italian, Iranian, and Lebanese cuisine, and is renowned for its kebabs, kofta, shawarma, biriyani, falafel, and shishas. Hotel restaurants, like the Fujairah Hilton, feature international cuisine. Popular local restaurants include Sardinia, Waves, Gonu Bar & Grill, Saffrons, Al Meshwar, Sapore, Views, Taj Mahal, Sadaf, Delhi Darbar, Taste, Baywatch Pool Bar, Breezes Beach Bar and Terrace, Sadaf, Sports Lounge, Sharkey's, Al Ghorfa, Oriental, Taj Mahal, Alnouman, Swaad, Gulf Flower Bakery, Al Gorfa and Breezer's in the Hilton Fujairah Hotel, Breeze and Alnokhada in the Radisson Blu Fajairah Hotel, Taste and Sapore in the Le Meridian Al Aqah Beach Resort, and Mozaique in the Rotana Fujaira Beach Resort.
Fujairah's scenic city centre offers a wealth of shopping, dining, entertainment, services, and events. In addition, Fujairah's scenic seaside promenade offers panoramic ocean vistas, and is undergoing extensive redevelopment. Slated for inclusion are additional landscapes, pedestrian paths, playgrounds, coffee shops, jogging areas, shaded seating areas, public restrooms, a water park, and small shopping centre.
Home to the legendary Al Hayl Fort, the ruggedly beautiful Hajar Mountains parallel the east coast of the UAE. At their highest point in the Musandam Peninsula, the mountain peaks reach a height of 6,562 feet (2,000 metres), then drop directly into the sea. A drive through the Hajar Mountains offer spectacular panoramic inland and coastal views.
Al Bidyah Mosque
Northern Fujairah is home to the renowned Al Bidyah Mosque, the oldest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. Named after the historical town that embraced it for centuries, Al Bidyah Mosque was built in 1446 of mud and bricks, and is similar to other mosques found in Yemen, eastern Oman and Qatar. It features a prayer hall with a prayer niche, or mihrab, a pulpit, arches and openings. A central pillar separates the internal space into four squares of similar dimensions, and supports all four domes visible on its exterior. An adjacent fort offers splendid ocean views.
Draped over a rocky outcrop overlooking Fujairah's old village and date-palm oasis, the beautifully restored Fujairah Fort is a splendid site to behold, especially when floodlit at night. Built from mud, gravel, wood and gypsum in 1670, the Fujairah Fort is the oldest fort in the UAE. The fort consists of three major sections, including one square tower, several halls and two round towers that aided in its defence. Parts of the historic village surrounding the fort have also been reconstructed, and visitors are free to walk around the expansive grounds and venture inside the buildings.
The Fujairah Museum is located south of the Fujairah Fort. Archaeological finds unearthed from nearby digs at Bidya, Bithnah and Qidfa, including carved soapstone vessels, arrowheads and carnelian beads, reveal that the Fujairah area has been settled for at least 3,500 years. Other halls are crammed with ethnic items such as weapons, costumes, Bedouin jewellery, bronze, silver and gold artefacts, painted pottery, pre-Islamic coins, swords, herbs, folkloric medicine, and the contents of a tomb from the Bronze Age. Another unique display is the ostrich egg, which dates back 2,200 years and was used by local ancestors as a bowl.
Fujairah's scenic seaside promenade offers panoramic ocean vistas, and is undergoing extensive redevelopment. Slated for inclusion are additional landscapes, pedestrian paths, playgrounds, coffee shops, jogging areas, shaded seating areas, public restrooms, a water park, and small shopping centre.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Fujairah's grand new mosque, built in honour of Sheikh Zayed, is the size of three football fields and festooned with six 328-foot (100-metre) high minarets. The white granite and marble edifice can accommodate up to 28,000 worshippers, including 2,500 women in a basement prayer hall. Although the mosque is not open to non-Muslims, its impressive exterior is worthy of a visit.
Al Hayl Fort
Built around 1670, the Al Hayl Fort is among the most renowned and best-preserved forts in the country. Tucked deep into the jagged Hajar Mountains, the fort is approximately eight miles (about 13 kilometres) southwest of Fujairah, and easily accessible without a 4WD vehicle. Built as a former residence of the Sheikh of Fujairah, the fort was used for patrolling, surveillance and defending the area.
The 18th-century Bithnah Fort was built as a result of Wahhabi incursions, and the Battle of Bithnah. The fort is constructed from stone, mud-brick, adobe and palm-wood planking. Through the ages, the Bithnah Fort was a strategic stronghold, and a key mainstay in the fortunes of the Sharqiyin throughout the 18th and early-19th centuries. Prior to the construction of the road to Masafi in the 1970s, traffic through to the interior from the coast passed through the bed of the wadi, in full view of the fort high above.
This small, lush oasis is located in the Wadi Ham, the main access route leading from the interior UAE to Fujairah on the east coast. In addition to a fine example of a 19th-century mud-brick fort, the Bithna Oasis is the site of an important, t-shaped tomb dating from the 2nd millennium B.C.
Ain Al Madhab Gardens
The Ain Al Madhab Gardens are located in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains, just outside the town of Fujairah. This mineral spa includes a park area, ruins of the Fujairah Fort and Heritage Village, and an outdoor theatre used for festivals during public holidays in Fujairah.
Fujairah's Heritage Village offers a unique insight into the traditional way of life for residents of the Emirates. It is comprised of traditional houses, farming tools, cooking utensils, and the Al Yazrah irrigation system, used for irrigating fields with a working bull. The village also features the 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 3,000 spectators.
The Musandam Fjords are located on the Strait of Hormuz, separated from the rest of Oman by the east coastline of the United Arab Emirates. Known as the 'Norway of the Arabian Gulf' due to its fjords, the Musandam Peninsula is home to some of the most striking panorama in the Arabian Peninsula and the ideal setting for a picturesque cruise aboard a traditional dhow boat. Along the way, take in a wide array of splendid vistas and photo opportunities of the Musandam and Hajar Mountains and peaks, prehistoric rock carvings, Khasab Fort and coastline, Dibba Port, enclaves of Madha and Nahwa, and the bustling fishing harbour.
Sharjah is the third-largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, and is the only one to have land on both the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. This 5,000-year-old settlement comprises Sharjah City, Kalba, Dibba Al-Hisn and Khor Fakkan, and is home to a unique blend of old and new. Highlights include the idyllic bay and beach of Khor Fakkan, Superior Court of Sharjah, Al Qasba, Al Majaz Waterfront, the heart of Sharjah, Al Suwifa Mountain, Khalid Lagoon Corniche, Chedi Khorfakkan Resort, and no less than 17 wonderful museums depicting the history and culture of the region and its people.
Located in nearby Sharjah along the Gulf of Oman on the east coast of the UAE, the port town of Khor Fakkan features a picturesque bay of the same name. Protected from prevailing winds by a jetty, Khor Fakkan is highlighted by beautiful, white-sand beaches and coral reefs that are among the finest in the region, and ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Located approximately (about 30 kilometres) from Fujairah, Diba is a coastal region at the northern tip of the eastern Arabian peninsula on the Gulf of Oman, and a popular destination due to its sunny, white-sand beaches and water sports.
Gulf of Oman Islands
The Gulf of Oman is renowned for its turquoise waters, splendid panoramic vistas, superb fishing and water sports, and a host of scenic islands worthy of a visit via boat trip.
Wadis are dry riverbeds containing water following heavy rain. Fujairah is renowned for its wadis, especially given the geological topography of the area. Local wadis include Saham, Siji, Al Tawaian, and northern Fujairah's Al Wurayah, a major tourist destination featuring waterfalls.
Located along the edge of Hajar Mountains near Fujairah, Masafi Village served as a trading post and refueling stop prior to the construction of modern highways. The village is divided into two parts; the larger section belongs to the Emirate of Fujairah, and the smaller section belongs to the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Masafi Village is renowned for its natural springs, and a leading producer of natural mineral water.
The popular Friday Market is located along the Dubai-Fujairah Road on the approach to Masafi Village. This bustling market features colourful stalls filled with the season's freshest fruit and vegetables, along with earthenware, rugs, souvenirs, handicrafts, and antiques.
Located in the Fujairah City Centre, the Magic Planet Mall offers European and Arabic perfume, skin and nail care products, accessories, food, and more.
Bull-butting, which began in Portugal between the 16th and 17th century, is a family event in Fujairah that is rapidly growing in popularity. Every Friday afternoon, tourists and local families gather at a fenced-in area in an open field opposite the Fujairah Corniche to watch the battling of bulls. Unlike Spanish and Portuguese bullfighting, bull butting it is not bloody and there are no matadors. The bull that manages to push his rival towards the edge of the fighting arena is declared the winner, and moves on to the next round. Each fight lasts just over a 1-2 minutes. Entrance is free.
Experience Fujairah's exquisite inland and mountain beauty during outdoor activities such as bird-watching, nature walks, off-road mountain and desert safaris, tennis, exploring ancient forts, villages and wadis, nature walks, tennis, and golfing. The wide, white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters in-and-around Fujairah are ideally suited for a wide array of water sports, including jetskiing, waterskiing, surfing, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, boating, yachting, snorkelling, and scuba diving, among others.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.