Tranquil, historical Fujairah
Majority of the tourists visiting United Arab Emirates stay in Dubai and/or Abu Dhabi, the most famous and wealthiest emirates. However, there are altogether seven different emirates in UAE, all of them open for visitors. Whereas the smaller emirates don’t have as many shiny skyscrapers, giant-malls and luxury hotels, they can show you more realistic way of living in this country where over 80 percent of the residents are in fact from abroad. In this post we shortly introduce Fujairah emirate and its capital Fujairah City.
Fujairah Emirate is situated by the Gulf of Oman, and is the only emirate with no coastline on the Persian Gulf. It’s the second smallest emirate by population, and third smallest by the size of the area. You won’t find many skyscrapers in Fujairah, and tourism isn’t nowhere near as developed as in Dubai. The economy of the emirate lies on flourishing free zone with international businesses as well as with shipping and related services offered by the Fujairah Port. To get to Fujairah using public transportation, you’ll need to get a bus from Dubai. There is a modern highway connecting these two cities, and the bus trip to Fujairah, through landscapes filled with desert and mountains, takes roughly 2,5 hours. There are some affordable accommodation options, like airbinb rooms, in Fujairah city itself, and more luxurious hotels and resorts by the beaches, mostly outside of the city center.
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Places of interest in Fujairah
To be honest, Fujairah city is not particularly pretty, but there is certain charm in it, and some interesting sights right in the city center. Fujairah is growing, and tourism industry has started to develop. Public transportation in the city is still very limited, but luckily it’s not too big to be explored on foot. Evening walks are often rewarded with beautiful sunsets over the mountains.
The best beaches, and nearly all the resort hotels, lie along the coastline north of Fujairah city. Outside the city, there are also several historical forts and castles in the emirate, as well as some old mosques. The Hajar Mountain Range, that separates Fujairah from other emirates in the west, is home to beautiful river beds called wadi, and hot mineral springs. The pretty mountain village of Masafi, on the border of Fujairah and Ras Al-Khaimah, is famous for natural springs and lively local market.
Fujairah Fort is considered to be the oldest fort in UAE. The current structure is from around 1670, and it has served as a defense fort as well as a royal residence. It was badly damaged in 1925 and abandoned after that, but today, after renovations, it’s in very good shape. It is a handsome sand-colored fort with round watch towers and a square-shaped main tower. Within the opening hours (usually until 5 pm) you can explore the fortress from inside, and even get to climb up to the roof. Entrance to the fort is free of charge. Outside the fort there is a heritage village with traditional houses and exhibitions of local life. There is also a museum just next to the heritage village, with wide collection of artifacts as old as from Bronze and Iron age.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
This huge, modern mosque with six 100 meters high minarets is a beautiful sight in Fujairah city. It’s actually the second biggest mosque in the whole UAE, and has an elegant, white facade. Unfortunately it’s forbidden to enter the mosque if you are non-Muslim, but the site is still worth exploring, and taking some pictures of the exterior of the mosque.
Sights outside of Fujairah city
For those interested in castles and forts, the following three could be worth a visit, but you’ll need to arrange transportation from Fujairah. Al Hail Fortress in the village by the same name is situated 13 kilometers southwest of the city of Fujairah. The Castle was once a royal residence, but has also been used for defensive purposes. What remains of the original fortress today is one of the towers on a hill. The fortress of Awhala is located in the village of Wahlah, 30 kilometers south from the city of Fujairah, next to Oman border. It’s said to be a great place for history buffs, and the 20 meters high tower offers nice views. Yet another castle is Al Bithna, close to the village by the same name, 13 km from Fujairah close to the main road to Dubai. This castle is photogenically situated on the foothills of the mountains, surrounded by palm groves.
Al-Bidya Mosque is the oldest operating mosque in UAE. It was built of mud and bricks back in 15th century, and was once surrounded by a town of Al Bidya. It is a small, four-domed building without a minaret, situated 30 km north from Fujairah city. Further north from this old mosque, you’ll find Al Aqah beach, that is allegedly the most picturesque beach of Fujairah. Coastline views there are dominated by a photogenic rocky island just offshore. The surrounding coastal area is said to offer the best opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling in UAE.
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