Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fujairah Unified Call to Prayer is a Backward Step

It was noticeably different on our walk early this morning to hear only one voice emanating from the mosques in Fujairah. The volume was loud and the caller was skilful.

A report in today’s Gulf News (27 February 2008) entitled, ‘Fujairah Introduces Unified Call to Prayer’, indicated the news and supplied the explanations:

“Religious authorities in Fujairah have introduced a unified call to prayer [adhan] on Tuesday, meaning the call will go out at the same time, sounded by a single caller.”

“The system, similar to that already in use in Abu Dhabi, relies on a singular live rendition of the adhan and not a pre-recorded sound-clip.”

“Some 320 mosques in Fujairah and surrounding areas have been fitted with dish receivers to catch the adhan signal beamed via a satellite…”

“Rashid Obaid Al Danhani, Director of the council said the new system is part of the policy of updating all mosques with new technologies.”

This move is certainly new, it marks an update in method and it involves the use of technology but does this mean it is a good move? Just because it is modelled in the capital does not make it right for Fujairah.

Reasons to Bring Back the Muezzins
1. The adhan (ذَان) recited by a live muezzin has been a tradition practiced for centuries and has not only religious significance but important cultural value for this nation.

This was the feature that struck Wilfred Thesiger, the explorer of the Arabian deserts in the 1940s when his Bedu friends emerged from their tents each morning:

“They… were lined up praying, their shadows long upon the desert floor. I was watching them and thinking how this ritual must have remained unchanged in every detail since it was first prescribed by Muhammed…” Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands, 67.)

Now this technological innovation has broken this ancient tradition by diminishing considerably the human factor.

2. What a difference to be woken by an unknown voice relayed by satellite (at least this is better than a pre-recorded sound-clip). What a different effect this will have when Fujairah Muslims are lying in bed and they hear the words beamed by satellite: “Prayer is better than sleep…Make haste towards prayer.” There might now be an un-hasty response that is different from when you knew personally the caller who had already awoken and was at your mosque waiting for you to join him with your company and devotion.

3. The technological innovation reduces the personal factor. If company and fellowship were insignificant the imams would be broadcasting the adhan by television and radio and encouraging people to pray alone in the privacy of their own homes. In a world that is becoming increasingly impersonal it is imperative that religions give a lead and highlight for people the importance of the human factor.

4. The Gulf News reports that 320 mosques in Fujairah have gone high-tech. This means that 319 Fujairah muezzins (and their substitutes—650+) are out of a job. If participation and the exercise of gifts are integral to religious faith and practice then this is a major loss. The unique and sacred task of calling people to prayer will be lost within a generation as young devotees go untrained in this ancient art. One can imagine in a couple of decades a thunderstorm and lightning hitting Fujairah, disabling the satellite system and this being followed by a silence, as there is no one who is able and practiced in calling people to prayer.

5. The technological innovation has been introduced on the basis that ‘a unified call to prayer’ is superior to the traditional method of many voices not in unison. Certainly if this morning’s muezzin is anything to go by the call to prayer will be relayed with power, musicality and confidence. But the disparate voices that I have heard every morning emanating from the nine mosques around our street has been testimony to the diversity in Islam and the truth that while there is a universal call, religious expression can take on a local colour. The homogenization of religion is a retrograde step and it represents the insidious influence of globalization.

6. This franchise approach to religion or what has been called McDonaldization may make mosques more efficient and ensure an even quality every time a call to prayer is sounded. But the cacophony will be missed. The caller who sings out of tune, the singer who sounds like he is gargling and the muezzin who calls up and down like a xylophone all express something fundamental about worship and all of life—the preparedness to offer one’s best to God regardless of whether or not the standard of excellence is attained.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “Make haste towards prayer.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

French Award Medal to Fujairah Ruler for Cultural Leadership

The Emirates News Agency and UAE Interact reported:

“The Arab Institute in Paris (L'Institut du Monde Arabe) has awarded its Gold medal to HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Fujairah in recognition of his services in the cause of cultural and intellectual interaction between the Arab and the European worlds.”

Further information on this presentation and award at:
‘Arab Institute in Paris Awards Fujairah Ruler its Gold Medal’, UAE Interact, 26 February 2008.

Image: The presentation.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Locust Swarms Threaten Fujairah Crops

Ria Novosti has posted this article on a swarm of desert locusts invading UAE farms:

ABU DHABI, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - The United Arab Emirates has seen its largest swarms of desert locusts in 25 years, which could threaten crops, national media reported on Thursday.

Desert locusts migrate from Africa across the UAE and Saudi Arabia to Iran about every five years, and some groups fly as far as India and Pakistan.

The first swarms appeared in western regions of the UAE around a week ago. Recently, agriculture authorities detected the pests in the eastern emirate of Al Fujairah along the coast of the Gulf of Oman.

The country's last locust plague was seen a quarter of a century ago, according to the Al-Bayan newspaper. However, the paper quoted authorities in Al Fujairah as saying such a large number of the insects had not been witnessed in the country in 50 years.

The insects have destroyed over 10% of vegetation in the Al Buraimi Oasis in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, mostly forests and date palms, the Al-Ittihad newspaper reported.

Authorities have called on farmers not to panic.

"This is not a dangerous situation at the moment. We have ground operations ready but the swarms are small," acting deputy minister, Abdullah Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz, said, adding that the situation was under control.

The Gulf News portal quoted an official from the country's Ministry of Environment and Water as saying that locusts as yet pose no major threat to farmers.

Desert locusts are considered the highly dangerous pests because of their ability to cover long distances at great speed.

Image: Desert locust

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oil Damages Fujairah Beaches, Marine Life and Tourism

Sara-Lise Haith from Deeper Blue posted this report on 19 February 2008:

The oil spill which happened in the earlier hours of today has caused havoc for the tourism industry of Fujairah and Sharjah, on the east coast areas of the United Arab Emirates.

Photos sent to Deeperblue.net today from a dive centre on the East Coast of Sharjah, represent extreme damage to marine life, beaches and the sun seeking tourists of what is normally a golden sandy beach have been driven away.

Dive centres are still reporting that no assistance has been offered to finance the cleanup of these areas and hotels, such as the Le Meridien Al Aqah, are financing their own cleanups in order to rid the beaches of the mess as soon as possible.

No company has claimed ownership or fault to the damage and the Ministry of Environment is allegedly shrugging their shoulders and not offering any solutions. A report on Zawya.com says that a leak occurred two days ago off the Abu Dhabi coast but it was announced that no pollution had occurred.

Original Post: Deeper Blue.

Images: Oil on beaches (courtesy of Deeper Blue).

Further information on the oil spill and the outrage can be found at these links:

Gulf News: ‘Hotels Seek Strict Action on Oil Spill’, 21 February 2008.

7 Days: ‘Clean-up Operation Under way After Beach Devastated by Oil Slick’, 21 February 2008.

Fujairah in Focus, Further Oil Spillages Call for Urgent Action, March 2008.

Regional UAE: Places of Surprising Beauty

Photographer Nan Kebab has captured this outstanding photograph of the Hatta Dam.

This beautiful place is easily within reach of a drive from Fujairah or Dubai and is well worth a visit.

The photograph depicts the beauty of the mountain, the clear sky and the reflective water, which is there in abundance after a good pour. It is one of the many scenic spots that visitors can enjoy if they are prepared to recognize that the UAE is more than Dubai.

The original site where this larger picture is posted should be seen and enjoyed.

Congratulations and thanks to Nan for posting this marvelous shot.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Hatta Dam.

Fujairah Cleaner: ‘It’s My Duty'

A recent (9 February 2008) Khaleej Times article ran an interview with Anand, a native of India’s Andhra Pradesh, who works as a cleaner for the Fujairah Municipality.

It is an interesting story that mirrors the lives of thousands of people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines who keep the economy of the UAE going.

Like so many people, Anand gets up early and works extremely hard doing menial work for very little money (Dh800 a month, which reflects an increase in the last month of 70%). Anand has left his wife and three children back in his homeland and he endures this existence in order to support them. Like so many others, this is seen as his ‘duty’.

Andand appears to carry out his work happily as he feels lucky to have a job. But he despairs at the people who drop paper and plastic on the streets and he would love to get invited to schools to lecture schoolchildren. Asked about the content of his lecture, Anand said, “I would urge children not to throw waste like cans and chips bags on the street.”

The full article can be read at this link.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Anand, a Fujairah cleaner (courtesy of Khaleej Times)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Assessing the Fujairah Experience

Jenny Coutinho spent three years living in Fujairah and has written an article describing her experience.

What does Fujairah offer?

Serenity, ships bobbing in the ocean, mountain ranges with its evocation of nostalgia and comforting balm, bargaining at the Friday Market, the beauty of the twilight skyline, the soothing effect of the starry, starry night and more.

It was not all ‘beer and skittles’ as Jenny writes about homesickness blended with hospitality.

Read more in this article entitled, ‘Fujairah: An Experience to Cherish’, Meri News, 11 February 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Not the glitz of Dubai, nor the bling of Abu Dhabi but serenity in the eastern emirate. Fujairah teacher experiencing serenity in the waters of the Indian Ocean.

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Cement Factory for Fujairah

The Fujairah Municipality has signed an agreement with Sharaf Group for setting up a cement factory in the Habhab region at a cost of AED 1 billion.

Vice Chairman of the Sharaf Group said that Fujairah was selected to set up the factory in view of its huge deposits of raw materials as well as its proximity to crushers.

The factory will have an initial production capacity of two million tons and will gradually be increased to 4 million tons.

Director General of Fujairah Municipality Rashid Hamdan said that the emirate is rich in raw materials and this will substantially help the cement production.

He praised the support of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, UAE Supreme Council member and ruler of Fujairah to the economic movement in the emirate.

Source: Emirates News Agency, WAM, 15 February 2008.

Image: “rich in raw materials…”

Diving Discoveries in Fujairah Waters

Have a look at this photograph and see why Fujairah is one of the most popular and significant regions for diving in the world.

This may be a fryeria rueppelii or a phyllidia varicosa but to the laity it might be better known as a sea slug.

These 15 mm beings were photographed on 13 February 2008 by Yahia Mokhtar while diving around Dibba Rock, Fujairah, Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean.

The information and photograph is posted on the Sea Slug Forum which is part of the Australian Museum Online.

Check this site to see and learn more about life under the sea off Fujairah. There are some amazing photos of sea slugs from the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea, Egypt and Western Australia.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: A Fujairah fryeria rueppelii

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fujairah Shakes in Earthquake Zone

Not a Sheikh up caused by leadership but a shake up caused by movement in the earth.

An earthquake in Fujairah yesterday (12 February 2008) has followed further tremors (and resulting panic) earlier in the month and has led to a report in the Khaleej Times.

In the article, Fresh tremors trigger panic in Fujairah, by staff reporters, Zoe Sinclair & Salah Deberkey, mention was made of tremor reports, the perceived epicentre and Fujairah’s location on the northeast of the Arabian tectonic plate.

National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) seismologist Mohammed Jaragat said, “It’s normal.” He added that it was unlikely recent tremors suggested a more severe earthquake could hit.

“Historical records show light and moderate tremors,” he said.
“Not above 4.5 to 5 which is moderate.”

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Hajar Mountains, situated along the Arabian tectonic plate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Power Boat Grand Prix for Fujairah

Gulf News reports that promoters of the Continental F2000 Championship have earmarked Fujairah as a prime location for the sport, announcing it will host a Grand Prix meeting on February 23.

Altogether 18 boats from 12 nations will be vying for valuable points as well as a share of the $30,000 prize money as Fujairah looks set to become an important stop on the F2000 diary.

Further details from the Gulf News article, ‘F2000 Grand Prix in Fujairah’, 11 February 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Power boat

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Looking to Buy Property in Fujairah?

Check out John Hill’s very good article on the state of property purchase in the UAE emirate of Fujairah.

Why Fujairah is Desirable
Hill sets forth several compelling reasons for eyeing Al Fujairah as a bright prospect for investors. These include the following:

* Fujairah has one of the smallest populations of any of the seven Emirates—only 130,000—so it is spacious, uncluttered and has a remote, ‘getaway’ holiday feel.

* The geography is strikingly different—rugged, mountainous, lengthy beaches, accessible islands and coral reefs which make it an adventurer’s paradise.

* The climate is more pleasant than most Middle Eastern locations. The mountains create a higher rainfall than the other emirates and the sea breezes drop the mercury.

Changing Property Laws
Before you go dashing forth to drop your dirhams and dollars on the Real Estate counters, check out what John Hill writes about buying property in Fujairah. My summary of his detailed statement is this:

* Until 2002 purchasing property freehold in the UAE has been limited to UAE citizens and citizens of Gulf (GCC) states but foreigners have been able to hold property under a 99 year lease arrangement.

* Dubai from 2002 has made property purchase available to foreigners but Fujairah has not followed apart from in one instance.

* The Fujairah government is currently considering a law to allow foreign freehold ownership of residential property.

* The Fujairah Free Zone allows the opportunity of fully foreign owned businesses.

Check out all the details, including information on Fujairah’s tourist property expansion and properties available in this eastern emirate at:

John Hill, UAE Property Guide—Fujairah

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “rugged, mountainous… accessible islands… which make it an adventurer’s paradise.”