Have you ever felt that, by merely being in a place, you can see its history before your own eyes?
Something similar happens in Fujairah. From the country’s oldest mosque, Al Badiyah, to the Gulf of Oman’s Al-Hayl castle – the only one in the United Arab Emirates – which has lots to offer to visitors. Fujairah is possibly the best place in the United Arab Emirates to learn about its culture and history.
The emirate of Fujairah isn’t as world-famous as Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but it still has many tourist attractions that are well worth visiting. Located 140km from Dubai, Fujairah finds itself in a peaceful setting, with its architecture differing greatly from that of other emirates. It’s also among the smallest of the seven emirates comprising the UAE, while also being the most mountainous.
Its territory separates the two parts comprising the neighbouring Sultanate of Oman. Fujairah is an emirate that does not have oil reserves, but which survives thanks to its port. By leading directly into the Arabian Sea, boats trading with the UAE avoid travelling through the choppy waters of the Persian Gulf. People say, for this reason, that Fujairah has transformed from a country of fisherman and farmers to a port of containers. The state has also gradually developed its tourist activity over the years.
At the most westerly point of the United Arab Emirates lies Fujairah City – small in size, home to only 100,000 inhabitants – which leads into the Gulf of Oman in the direction of the Arabian Sea. This city houses the Fort of Fujairah and the nearby Al Bithna fort, which is smaller than the former but enclaved in a palm grove, resembling the oases of the nearby desert. This trip to Fujairah covers the castles and the history of the United Arab Emirates.
Does this sound like a good plan?
If the answer is ‘yes’, here is a list of some of the must-see sites in Fujairah:
Al Badiyah Mosque
This small mosque is located 35km north of the capital city, believed to be the oldest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. Nearby excavations have revealed that the site has been inhabited for at least 4000 years, with these operations uncovering several objects dating back more than 1000 years.
It’s a simple and traditional structure made from mud and bricks, with four small domes. It does not have any minarets and can only fit 20 people at any one time. Entry to the mosque is free, and women can enter by putting on the burqa and shayla provided to them on entry.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the second largest mosque in the country, with a surface area of 39,000 square metres – the size of three football pitches – which is only exceeded in size by the Abu Dhabi mosque. It has space for 32,000 worshippers and has six 100-metre tall minarets. Access to the inside of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is restricted only to Muslims.
Fort of Fujairah
Built in 1670, the Fort of Fujairah is the country’s oldest fort. For centuries it was the coastline’s most important defensive structure, also serving to house distinguished figures of the emirate. The Heritage Village has been built nearby, with restored model houses depicting traditional life in the area.
This small village recreates the old irrigation extraction system used in the desert oases. The site is dedicated to depicting the country’s traditional ways of life, folklore, customs and craftsmanship. By visiting the site, you’ll have the opportunity to see traditional dances performed by people wearing typical clothing of the region and can also enjoy the sweet sound of women – with half of their face covered, as was common practice – singing traditional songs.
Al Bithna Fort
Located 13km outside the city, this fort, which isn’t as large as the Fort of Fujairah, is perhaps more striking, as it’s in the middle of a palm grove.
Located only a few metres away from the fort, this museum boasts an excellent collection of Bronze Age items. The ethnographic section is a must-see, with scenes depicting traditional ways of life.
A small castle that still manages to loom over its surroundings, owing to its strategic positioning. Due to its remote location and the behaviour of the small number of inhabitants in the village, visiting is only recommended with an official guide.
A walk to the town of Khor Fakkan covers the entire coastline. It’s a fairly long promenade which passes by a series of beaches, which are the best diving spots in the entire United Arab Emirates.
Blue Diamond Alsalam*****GL
The Blue Diamond Alsalam Resort*****GL has recently opened its doors in the city, with it already being considered as one of Fujairah’s landmarks due to it being the only 5-star beach resort hotel, offering all the services and facilities that one might expect of a hotel of such characteristics: a private beach; large luxury rooms, suites and apartments; huge swimming pools; a wide range of dining options in the form of various restaurants and bars; and a spa with an area specifically set aside for health treatments, peace, pleasure and serenity, allowing the guest to experience total relaxation.