When it comes to the United Arab Emirates, the two big cities that automatically come to mind are Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But Fujairah is not to be missed if you are visiting the UAE. Known for its outstanding natural beauty, Fujairah is a favorite with the local Emiratis.
Tip: Renting a car is recommended. Start the day off early. Most things close by 5pm and it is a 2.5 hour drive from Dubai to Fujairah.
The drive to Fujairah is one of the most gorgeous in the UAE. Open desert sands with sparse plant populations soon give way to rocky mountainous terrain, lush palm grove plantations and the coastline.
You will also see plenty of camels! Please note that camels are protected under UAE law and approaching them is strictly forbidden. Feel free to take photos though. The camels love them 🙂
The name “Fujairah” is derived from a water spring located beneath the Hajar mountain range.
Fujairah lies on the eastern border of the United Arab Emirates along the Gulf of Oman, which means water sports like yachting, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing and swimming are extremely popular.
One place to check out is Khor Fakkan. The only natural deep sea port in the region, Khor Fakkan literally means ‘Creek of Two Jaws’. The tides and sands are especially popular with water enthusiasts and beach goers. The below picture is during the month of May when daytime temperatures have started to climb. Hence, why the beach seems deserted.
Al Badiyah Mosque
The mosque is believed to have been built in 1446 AD. This date cannot be ascertained through radiocarbon dating as the structure is made of mud and stones. Also known as the Al Bidya or the Ottoman mosque, it is the oldest mosque in the UAE and continues to hold daily prayers till this day. There is a well for performing ablutions and a lookout tower.
There are some rules for entering the Al Badiyah Mosque:
— Shoes should be removed before entering the mosque.
— Men are expected to wear t-shirts or full sleeved shirts along with full length trousers.
— Women are to wear full sleeved clothing with full length trousers or a long skirt.
— Women also have to cover their heads.
— Photography is not allowed inside.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Not to be confused with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. With a total of 65 domes and a seating capacity of 28,000, Fujairah’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the second largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. The emaculate white facade makes it a prominent landmark on Fujairah’s cityscape.
Please note: Non-Muslims cannot enter the mosque. But you can explore the exterior and take photos.
Built in 1670, Fujairah Fort is the oldest fort in the UAE. During its lifetime, the fort was occupied by Wahhabists for 2 years before local tribes won it back. Badly damaged by the British in early 20th century, Fujairah Fort has now been restored to its former glory.
Fujairah Fort is constructed primarily of mud, mortar, rocks and plaster. The roof is made of date palm fronds and trunks. There are many watch towers, of which the main tower is called Murabaa.
Fujairah Fort once served as the residence of the ruling family. Today, the area surrounding the fort consists of traditional houses and the Al Yazrah irrigation system, and has been designated as a Heritage Village.
The Fujairah Museum provides an in-depth view into Emirati history, daily life and traditions. Visitors learn about burial methods, weapons, pottery work, pre-Islamic silver coins, jewelry, spices, etc.
Archaelogical digs from Qidfa and Bithnah date back to the Bronze and Iron Age. Also displayed are gifts from Sheikh Nasser Al Sabah Al Ahmad, the 5th Emir of Kuwait.
Al Hayl Castle
Built in 1830, the Al Hayl Castle is set deep in the jagged Hajar Mountains, the highest mountain range in the eastern Arabian Peninsula. Once the headquarters of Fujairah’s ruling family, Al Hayl Castle played a key role in the region’s defence network. Not much of the original fortifications remain now, save for the two-level tower.
The paved road soon gives way to stone ground. There are sharp bends along the mountains and often only one vehicle can pass at a time. There are also no street lights. The total ride from the main highway to the castle is between 15-20 minutes.
En route to Al Hayl Castle, you will also come across the Wadi Hail Dam. This wadi runs for 15km. A wadi is a ravine or channel that is normally dry, except for the rainy season.