So I thought I’d do something a little different and write about somewhere a bit closer to home. Although not actually in Dubai, the emirate of Fujairah (one of 7 in the UAE) is located just a short drive away.
Since my flatmate Kirsty is leaving in less than a month (boo!) we wanted to explore a little bit more of the UAE, and hired a car for a mini road trip!
Our plan had originally been to head out in the morning and stay overnight, but we both landed around 8am from flights and decided a day trip would work just as well. The next morning, after sorting out car hire logistics and making a rough plan, we picked up the car and off we went!
It was my first time driving in the UAE (luckily I learnt to drive in Austria, where they drive on the same side of the road) so I was a little apprehensive, mainly because everyone drives like lunatics here, but I soon got back into the swing of things! Even easier due to the automatic car – why isn’t every car automatic?
Once we were out of Dubai it was long straight roads all the way to Fujairah, with not much to see for the first half of the drive. Soon some beautiful rocky mountains popped up, and we headed to our first stop, the Fujairah Fort.
The fort was built in 1670, and is the oldest fort in the UAE. For many centuries it was the only stone building along the Fujairah coast, and served previously as both a defensive building and a home for the ruling family.
We wandered around inside and climbed up into the turrets, which boast some lovely views of the surrounding Hajar Mountains and the city itself.
From the top of the fort we’d spotted a big mosque, which happened to be pretty close by. We parked up close and wandered down to have a look. It turns out the mosque is actually still under construction, although it shouldn’t be too long before it’s finished.
Since it isn’t done yet we were allowed inside (although I’m not sure if non-Muslims will be allowed in once it’s finished, like the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi?) and had a look at the stunning architecture.
We then drove on down to the seafront, and continued our drive in search of Snoopy Island, so called because it looks like Snoopy lying down!
We stopped for some lunch at the Meridien, where we had originally planned to stay. Since that didn’t happen, Kirsty will just have to come back to Dubai 😉
Our next stop was Al Badiyah Mosque, which is the oldest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. We’d spotted it on our drive up to the Meridien, so knew we just needed to turn back and head down the same road we’d come on.
The mosque was built in the 15th Century, and has an area of just 53 square metres. It was built from stones and mud bricks, and still stands just as strong as it did hundreds of years ago.
We strolled up to the little fort at the top of the hill, and admired the beautiful views from both sides. On one side we could see the Hajar Mountains which surround Fujairah, and on the other side we could see out to sea and Snoopy Island.
Supposedly Fujairah is a great area for snorkelling and scuba diving, with plenty of fish and underwater life to see. Just another excuse to come back!
Our next stop was to be Wadi Wurayah, a conservation area which is over 12,700 hectares in size. It’s home to over 100 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as over 300 species of plants.
To our disappointment however, the Wadi has been closed for renovation since last year. It has been spoilt by graffiti and the locals are trying to restore the natural beauty.
Nonetheless, the surrounding mountains were still stunning, and we didn’t see another car for miles.
Our final stop of the day was the Friday Market, which is located a short drive outside of Fujairah, on the road back to Dubai. Despite the name, it’s actually open every day of the week, and sells all sorts of goods from fruit and veg to huge carpets and rugs!
We fuelled up with some freshly squeezed juices for the drive home, just as the sun was beginning to set.
It was so interesting to see another part of the UAE, especially as it’s so different from Dubai. I’d really love to explore some of the other Emirates as well!