Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Time overseas recently convinced me of the need to take a longer time out from some regular activities such as blogging.

I plan to undertake a stock take of pursuits in my work and play portfolio.

Some things to give up and new challenges to grasp?



Sunday, November 15, 2009

New UAE Coach of Modern Rowing Starts Work in Fujairah

Mehdi Garidi has recently arrived in Fujairah to take up the new position of National Modern Rowing Coach of the United Arab Emirates.

National and International Experience
Hailing from Algiers, Algeria, Garidi comes to the UAE with a distinguished career which commenced in 1992 when he started rowing. He soon demonstrated his leadership qualities, being appointed the stroke in the pairs, 4s and 8s and becoming all-Algerian champion in these different categories. Mehdi competed internationally and most notably represented Algeria in the African championships in 2003.

He became a Board member and Vice Chairman of the Algiers Rowing Club which, established in 1867, is the oldest rowing club in Algeria. Developing his skills further, Garidi became head coach of the Algiers Rowing team at the age of 22, assistant coach of the Algerian National Team and finally National Coach and Technical Director of the Algerian Rowing Federation.

At different stages, assuming responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the craft and working as director of a Sports Centre have broadened his technical, leadership and marketing skills. At one time Garidi was the youngest technical director of modern rowing in the world.

UAE Appointment
Mehdi Garidi had many things to do while stationed in Algeria, including plans to finish his university studies that his rowing career had put on hold.

The invitation to move to the United Arab Emirates was a surprising new turn of events as Garidi was not looking for a coaching job in another country.

“The UAE is a good opportunity,” says Garidi. “I like rowing. I like to spend my time encouraging children and young people to row, to teach them how to row and to push them to get results. It’s my world!”

When asked what attracted him to the UAE, Garidi said, “I like the challenge of helping to make a team and build a rowing world in the UAE.”

Coaching in the Emirates
The new UAE Rowing Coach seems undaunted by the fact that the country currently has no rowing boats, no rowers and not a lot of people who know about modern rowing. He said:

“The UAE has many traditional rowing boats, there is a long rowing tradition and the people here love rowing. I also like the fact that those overseeing modern rowing in the UAE have a big vision. Traditional rowing is like sumo wrestling in Japan. Sometimes there are 60 boats in a traditional rowing regatta with 10 or 16 rowers in each boat. We have to use this Emirati tradition as we build a new tradition of rowing in all the various Olympic categories.

Rowing Dreams
The new UAE Rowing Coach sees the establishment of an overall vision and strategy as a team task but he has many dreams to propose.

From the establishment of a rowing club in Fujairah he wants to see clubs established in every emirate. The rise of UAE championships will give something to which these new rowers may aspire and from the development of a national team, Garidi is looking toward UAE teams competing in the Arab Games, the Asian Games, international regattas and ultimately at the Olympics. “We will try to improve and become better and better,” he said, “All things in good time.”

Starting Point
His appointment as a national coach has been the first task but from now there is a need to purchase boats, build hangars in which the craft might be housed and appoint local coaches to spearhead rowing in different clubs around the country.

He affirmed:

“I cannot coach all the clubs alone. We must have other people to coach and my plan is to appoint and develop the coaches, to teach them rowing and how to coach and I will assess them.”

When asked if coaches need to have a distinguished record on the water he said, “It is not essential for coaches to be excellent rowers but they need to feel rowing. They have to feel what the rowers feel.”

Why Fujairah?
When asked why Fujairah was selected to be the base for UAE rowing Garidi offered this reply:

“I had the same question. I soon discovered that Fujairah had a strong tradition and fine record in traditional rowing and this was the main reason why Fujairah had been chosen as a place from which rowing would be encouraged. As many members of the UAE Rowing Committee live in Fujairah it makes sense for the base to be in the eastern emirate. Added to this was the strong support that the Fujairah International Marine Club had given to the support of traditional rowing and the promise that the Club would support in every way the establishment of modern rowing in the UAE.”

Fujairah Facilities
The Fujairah International Marine Club has granted the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation substantial office space in their ship-shaped building on the corniche, as well as much personal encouragement from the Managing Director, Major Ahmed Ibrahim Mohamed Darak.

One of the important facilities needed in Fujairah will be a modern well-equipped gymnasium for the rowers. The new coach said:

“If rowers are not in good physical condition they will not survive. The first thing to go will be their back. Many people think the development of big arm muscles is the first priority but this is incorrect. Fifty percent of the work of the rower is in the legs so rowers must develop very strong legs. Then attention must be given to developing back strength and after that strong arms will give finish and speed.”

“Thirty percent of a rower’s training time is spent in the gym rather than in the boat. Rowers in the UAE national team will have to work hard seven times a week. My Algerian National Team rowed 6,000 kilometres last year putting in 15-20 kilometres every day and 100 kilometres a week,” said the new UAE Coach, giving a glimpse of the work that was in store for UAE rowers.

UAE Rowers
In order to build towards a UAE national team Garidi has in mind getting started with 14 to 15 year old rowers—people who are strong enough to lift the boats and who have a minimum amount of muscles and conditioning.

As in Algeria, Mehdi Garidi will be encouraging women in the sport of modern rowing, a challenge that requires not only training the rowers but building confidence between the coach and their parents.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat from Fujairah to the London Olympics, Experiencing the Emirates, 15 November 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Mehdi Garidi, who has recently arrived in Fujairah to take up the new position of National Modern Rowing Coach of the United Arab Emirates.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Al Shoosh Season Starts Slowly in Fujairah UAE

Slow Start
At 3.30pm on Friday 13th November some owners of the shoosh (traditional Fujairah fishing boats) were fuming while waiting for their rowers to turn up for the 4.00pm race.

Some team members appeared later while others did not turn up for the first heat of the Crown Prince Al Shoosh Rowing Championship on Fujairah waters.

Haytham Kamal, the Executive Secretary of the Fujairah International Marine Club, said that the slow start was normally the way things happened:

“This is the first shoosh race of the season and rowers turn up without having done a lot of training. As the season builds, so does the training and the interest of the rowers and the spectators. Wait and see how the interest builds for the second race in January.”

Friday 13th
The conditions were anything but unlucky on Friday 13th November for the rowing of the race. The sea was calm, the skies blue and the Hajar Mountains appeared with clear definition. Bangladeshi fishermen were cleaning their nets as shoosh rowers were readying their craft. One team propped up their shasha (singular) on its side and applied petroleum jelly to the bottom to help it to glide faster through the water.

Some rowers knelt on cloth in the direction of Mecca and prayed while others went through a physical fitness warm up regime.

It took some time for the boats to get to the starting line to the southern side of the ‘banana’ and this was followed by some back paddling to ensure that no craft had their bow over the invisible starting line that was in the mind of the referee.

A yellow standby flag was waved from Major Ahmed’s boat to alert the rowers that things were almost ready to roll then Abdul Aziz, a member of the Fujairah International Marine Club, had the privilege of waving the green flag and sending the rowers on their way.

And They’re Racing!
Boat #1 containing rowers wearing the distinctive Brazilian football shirts took an early lead and sustained this dominance throughout the race. This was the group that on land had limbered up and showed some semblance of teamwork and prior training.

Boat #5 rowers were all part of the one family—three brothers who are the sons of the renowned shoosh builder, Abdullah Mohammed Sulaiman and their two cousins.

Boat #6 was also rowed by members of the one family, indicating the value of family spirit in mounting a boat into the heritage boat competition.

From the halfway mark on the 2000 metre course the gap between the leading boat (#1 named Al Ghadree Rental Cars) and those in second place (#14 named Al Ghadree Group 2) began to narrow the lead, thus making a very exciting finish.

Photo Finish
At the finishing line, judged by the eagle eye of those on the referee boat, Al Ghadree Rental Cars took the honours by half an oar’s length.

The chequered flag was passed from the official boat to the winners who by this stage were having a celebratory swim in the Fujairah waters.

Trophies and Prizes
Major Ahmed Ibrahim Mohamed Darak, the Managing Director of the Fujairah International Marine Club, led the presentation ceremony and presented the cups.

Ahmed Khodom Al Saadi, the chairman of the UAE Rowing Committee and a member of the Fujairah Marine Club, also gave a speech.

Place Getters
Boat: Al Ghadree Rental Cars
Number: 1
Owner: Yones Habeb
Skipper: Yosif Baroun
Points: 20

Boat: Al Ghadree Group 2
Number: 14
Owner: Yosif Baroun
Skipper: Yosif Baroun
Points: 17

Boat: Al Masoud
Number: 3
Owner: Khalefah Musood
Skipper: Abdel Al Azeez Musood
Points: 15

’Til We Meet Again
The next heats of the Crown Prince Al Shoosh Championship:
Second Heat—8 January 2010 at 4.00pm
Third Heat—19 February 2010 at 4.00pm
Fourth and Final Heat—23 April at 4.00pm

Fujairah Marine Club Managing Director Proposes Changes to Shoosh Race, Experiencing the Emirates, 14 November 2009.

Fujairah Crown Prince Al Shoosh Championship, First Heat 2009-2010, Picture Gallery, Fujairah International Marine Club.

Become a Fan of the Fujairah International Marine Club.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: The eight shoosh heading off on the 2,000 metre Al Shoosh Championship on Fujairah waters.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Siji Hotel Apartments for Style and Service in Fujairah, UAE

Renovated Twin Towers
Former residents of the Faseel ‘Twin Towers’, as they were affectionately known, will be amazed at the renovations undertaken to transform them into the luxury Siji Hotel Apartments in Fujairah, UAE.

Visitors were amazed at the space and solid character of these apartments but now they are also stamped with a new and high quality finish.

Business Pitch
These apartments are available for rental on a casual, weekend basis but most are being leased on a long term arrangement. It is clear that the Siji is pitching its services toward the residential and visiting business clientele.

There are many features designed to attract business people to these 5 star hotel apartments.

Staggering Spaciousness
Talk about ‘room to swing a cat’ for at the Siji you could swing a menagerie! The sheer size and spaciousness of these apartments is one of the most striking features of the Siji in Faseel.

Large areas in all the rooms and high ceilings create a feeling of largesse. Add to this the solid walls and one is mindful of how quiet are these apartments.

Each apartment has a maid’s room and the building also has a driver’s room if your chauffeur is driving you over to Fujairah for the weekend.

These hotel apartments surpass in size everything else in the UAE.

Diversity in Dining
* The main restaurant has a sumptuous menu offering regional, continental, Mediterranean and Far Eastern cuisine (buffet and à la carte). This is the only restaurant in the region where diners can sit up at a station and experience Teppanyaki dining.

* An exclusive Executive Lounge offers snacks, pastries, cakes, coffees and teas.

* A Pool Snack bar is offering drinks, snacks and dishes suitable for the open-air.

* The Faseel Café on the ground floor that is becoming popular with Fujairah residents and tourists serves Starbucks coffee among its beverages, is one of the few places to sell decaffeinated coffee and has a wide range of Häagen Dazs ice cream and chocolate cakes.

* If you want to eat in your apartment there is 24 hours in-room dining.

All the equipment is state of the art:

* The Business Centre is enormous and comes with two different parts—one that is furnished with computer stations and the other with a lounge and television.

* There is high speed Internet in every apartment.

* Wi-Fi is available all through the towers, including the café and areas around the pool.

* Stylish telephones and digital ready satellite LCD TV systems.

Fitness and Relaxation
The Siji Hotel Apartments in Faseel boast the latest ergonomic fitness machines in a fully equipped gymnasium that is staffed by trained personnel who can guide and ensure your safety.

The swimming pool area is being developed for communal activities (BBQs, picnics) where snacks, outside food and drinks are available.

There is a separate steam bath and sauna for men and women and a massage centre where you can book regular treatments for complete relaxation, health and fitness.

Quality Service
From restaurants to the business centre, car parking and cleaning, baby sitting and airport shuttle buses, ‘service’ is the operative word.

All apartments are fully serviced three times a week.

Strategic Location
Anywhere in Fujairah is within easy reach but the new Siji is located in the suburb of Faseel which is burgeoning with new hospitals, villas, shopping malls and commercial buildings towards the Port and Fujairah Free Zone.

These hotel apartments at the distinctive coffeepot roundabout are literally a stone’s throw from the beach and the panoramic views of the sea from the rooms are among the best in Fujairah.

Negotiate Your Price
The apartments are priced at the higher end of the range in Fujairah. Prices vary according to whether you want a two or three bedroom apartment, the length of the rental period and how many from your company are going to be housed at the Siji. Business people know that everything can be negotiated!

For more information and inspections contact Shankar Bharadwaj, Director of Sales and marketing.

Siji Hotel Apartments, P O Box 1199, Al Nakheel Road, Fujairah, UAE.
Tel: +971 9 2232 222
Fax: +971 9 2232 333
Email: sijiapt(at)eim.ae
Website: www.adsh.ae

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Get Your Picture Taken at Fujairah’s First Photo Souk Market

Photo Souk
One of the 10 shops at Fujairah’s new Heritage Souk (market) in the grounds of the Fujairah International Marine Club is a photo studio.

Two Emirati women, Amani and Mariam, have set up their shop beautifully not only to put you at ease but to provide a fitting background for your picture.

On one side of the shop there’s some tasteful wooden furniture and at the rear there’s the traditional majlis (sitting place) so you can get snapped in fine Emirati style.

Instant Pics
There is a printer in the shop so you can get a photo in your hot hand before you’ve had time to say, ‘As Salamu Alaykum’. But you are encouraged to linger as they are serving nearby delicious Arabic sweets and coffee.

Get Into the Frame
Individual portraits (men, women, boys and girls), family photos, group pics or any other combination is fine with these photographers.

When I visited to have my photo taken a cat was being photographed wearing golden jewelry!

Check out the other shops in the Heritage Souk. They feature the shoosh (traditional Emirati fishing boat), henna painting, souvenirs, sweets, perfumes, incense and much more.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Fujairah’s first photo souk.

Peace for Pakistan

Pakistan, particularly the city of Peshawar, has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons.

Bomb blasts are occurring almost every day with innocent children and women killed and injured in the violence.

Aziz Ullah works as a gardener and bus driver in Fujairah, UAE. He and so many compatriots from Peshawar have been devastated by the bombing in their city.

Last Monday, Aziz said, 40 people were killed and 200 people injured in a Peshawar suburb only 7 kilometres from his home and family.

Mention bomb blasts to one of the many Fujairah taxi drivers who come from Peshawar and you will see the outrage, the concern and the stress these people are under as they await good news from their homeland.

Keep Pakistan and Peshawar in particular, in your hearts and in your prayers.

Salaam! Peace for Pakistan.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Aziz Ullah dressed in traditional Pakistani clothes—shalwar (pants), kameez (shirt), chapal (sandals).

Need Any More Reasons for Visiting Fujairah, UAE?

This picture by Fujairah photographer, Alan Nambiar, was taken at Dibba, the northern part of the emirate.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Click on the photo to enlarge and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Henna Your Hands at Fujairah’s Heritage Souk

Heritage Henna
One of the ten shops at the new Heritage Souk (market) in the grounds of the Fujairah International Marine Club is devoted to henna painting.

It is fitting that henna painting is part of a heritage feature as this body art has been practiced for hundreds of years in this region.

Among residents and tourists henna painting is experiencing a resurgence of interest. Women get their hands adorned with henna for holidays, celebrations and especially for weddings.

Henna traditionally was regarded as bestowing blessings (barakah) and was done to add to the festivity and joy of the occasion as well as to enhance beauty.

Fujairah Henna Painting
When I visited the Heritage Souk, Huda was applying henna to the hands of young girls. They enjoyed the experience immensely and proved that you can never be too young to get your hands painted.

The henna paint comes in two main colours. There are posters with many designs on the back wall of the souk salon from which women can select the pattern which they prefer.

Huda paints with henna from her salon but she will be in action in the evenings at the Heritage Souk and during the days when the Marine Club has competitions or is hosting cruise ship visitors.

This Friday Huda will be at the souk from 10.00am until approximately 10.00pm.

At other stalls at the Heritage Souk you can see the shoosh, view other everyday things made of the date palm and meet Abdullah the shoosh maker; buy traditional souvenirs; get a professional portrait or family photo; enjoy Arabic coffee, Arabic sweets and much more.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Painting a hand with henna; young girls display their hennaed hands.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mosques Help Fight against H1N1 in Fujairah UAE

Mosques are one of the important meeting places in the UAE and are most strategic if you have a message to share.

Earlier this year a swine flu (H1N1) sermon was prepared and preached at all the mosques in the Emirates.

The notice board like this one (pictured) outside a Fujairah mosque keeps the issue before worshippers in imparting information to help in the prevention, detection and treatment of Swine Flu Type A.

‘Swine Flu Seminars’ have been conducted by groups such as the Emirates Medical Services and while hand bills and posters have been distributed it is difficult to get an accurate statement on the number of people infected with swine flu (including fatalities) in cities such as Fujairah.

Some schools were closed at the beginning of the term, partly because of Ramadan activities and partly to curb the spread of swine flu infection.

One of the pressing challenges is to stem the possibility of a massive infection of swine flu caused by pilgrims carrying the disease to the Haj. Currently there is a major vaccination drive for intending pilgrims which includes an education booster and the gift of a ‘health bag’ containing disinfectants, medications and informational guidelines.

Isolation procedures for infected people are being established on the pilgrimage routes and in the Muslim holy land.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Sign on the notice board of the Abu Bakr Al Sedeeq Mosque, Al Gurfah, Fujairah (at the coffeepot roundabout).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Keeping Fujairah Heritage Afloat with Al Shoosh Boat Racing

This Friday 13 November at 4.00pm will see the rowing of the first heat of the Al Shoosh Championship to compete for the cup named after the Fujairah Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi.

The shoosh (singular shasha) are the small fishing boats built of materials from the date palm that have been used for centuries along the eastern coast of the UAE and the Sultanate of Oman.

Thirteen boats have registered to compete in the race which will have one category (no race for youth, adults, men and women). Each shasha has four rowers and a cox who steers the boat and shouts the encouraging ‘aiwa’ (Yes!) and ‘yalla’ (Come on!).

The race will be rowed over a distance of 2,000 metres, starting within the ‘banana’ out from the Fujairah corniche and ending at the Fujairah International Marine Club.

The Al Shoosh race will be over in eight minutes.

Trophies and cash prizes given by the Fujairah International Marine Club will be awarded to the teams who secure one of the first three places.

Following the presentation competitors and spectators will be encouraged to view the new Heritage Souk where souvenirs, Arabic bread and sweets will be sold. Among the attractions, women may get their hands painted with henna and people can enjoy watching the traditional shoosh being made.

Rowing Races are Keeping Alive Fujairah's Traditional Fishing Boats the Shoosh, ETE.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Images: Pictures of an earlier shoosh race sponsored by the Fujairah International Marine Club.

Fujairah Watch Tower

This watch tower in Fujairah photographed by Ashraful Alam is part of a photo gallery posted by Gulf News.

View this and the other superb photographs at this link:

‘Watch Tower in Fujairah’, Reader’s Pictures, 3-9 November 2009, Gulf News.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fujairah Authorities Unable to Police and Prevent Oil Dumping Crimes

It is disheartening to hear of another oil dumping in Fujairah waters.

Swimming Competitions Spoiled
At the Fujairah Swimming Championships last Friday, competitors and tourists at the Hilton Hotel Beach were greeted with this sign (pictured): “Tar on the Beach.”

Hotel Beaches Tarred
The Hilton Team had spent the whole day cleaning the oil from the sand so their guests could enjoy the beach and to ensure that swimming competitors did not get covered in oil at the Hilton Hotel finishing line.

Boating and Fishing Tarnished
In this month’s edition of the Fujairah Observer (local magazine) there is an ‘Open Letter’ from a Fujairah fishing charter operator reporting the oil dumpings by tanker captains and bemoaning the damage done to the marine environment.

The charter operator writes (and provides pictures) of three recent oil spills off the Fujairah coast and the way his boat and fishing tackle got covered in oil. He calls for rigorous surveillance, more effective technology with infrared cameras and planes as happens in other countries.

Authorities Failing
There were more than fifteen oil dumpings last year in Fujairah waters and when journalists and bloggers highlighted the problem the authorities admitted that there had been no apprehensions, impounding of ships and arrests of those that were committing these crimes in Fujairah waters.

The Fujairah marine life is being trashed in some areas beyond repair. Furthermore, the hotels, diving companies, fishing charters and the marine sports are all paying the cost of these illegal actions.

Those responsible for policing must bring to justice the few rogue sea captains who dump the oil and detergent slops into the water. Funds must be invested in purchasing state of the art surveillance equipment.

It is all very well to boast Fujairah’s reputation as one of the biggest bunkering ports in the world but until this oil dumping problem is solved the city is known more for its impotence in preventing these marine disasters.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

P.S. The water and hotel beaches look fine now after the sands have been cleaned.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Traditional Boat Races Keep Emirati Culture Alive in Fujairah UAE

In an interview soon to be screened by Sama Dubai Television, the Managing Director of the Fujairah International Marine Club, Major Ahmed Ibrahim Mohamed Darak spoke yesterday (3 November 2009) of the traditional shoosh boat races as an example of the way that the Marine Club is involving itself with the local community.

Major Ahmed said that “traditional dhow sailing, traditional rowing and swimming championships are always related to society for the people who have lived in this area for centuries have only had the sea and their culture.”

“The sea with its fishing, swimming and boating was part of their daily life so by hosting marine sports activities today we are keeping alive in their minds what their grandfathers and great grandfathers used to do before modern developments and technologies arose.”

Major Ahmed said that Sheikh Zayed, the father of the UAE nation often said, “The people who have no past have no future” so to keep alive the tradition is essential to the vitality and development of the country.

Significant Sheikh Decision
When asked by Sama Dubai Television who was supporting the activities of the Marine Club, Major Ahmed noted the generous sponsorship of local businesses but his highest praise was reserved for Fujairah’s Ruler and ruling family:

“Our first and foremost support has come from His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, the Ruler of Fujairah and Member of the Supreme Council and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah.”

“Ten years ago His Highness Sheikh Hamad made the wise decision to establish the Marine Club along with its Board and the marina. Formal marine sports activities started in 1999 and in ten years I believe it has reached the goal that His Highness had in mind. We are looking forward to developing many more activities to keep our culture alive and make a worthwhile contribution to the community of Fujairah.”

A book recounting the story of the first decade of the Fujairah International Marine Club is currently been written.

The traditional shoosh (boats made from date palms) will be on display in Fujairah waters in the first race of the season on Friday 13 November 2009.

See this Fujairah International Marine Club calendar for details of this event and up and coming traditional and modern activities.

Learn more and keep in touch with the Fujairah International Marine Club by becoming a Fan of the FIMC on the new Facebook Page.

Rowing Races are Keeping Alive Fujairah's Traditional Fishing Boats the Shoosh, ETE.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: The Managing Director of the Fujairah International Marine Club, Major Ahmed Ibrahim Mohamed Darak.

Searching for the Finest Coffee in Fujairah UAE

There are a few coffee shops that have opened recently in Fujairah and I am looking for the one that consistently serves the best brew.

My search is an important one because I am living in the region where coffee qahwa (قهوة) was first discovered. One would expect to be able to drink the best coffee in these parts.

My quest for the holy grail of coffee is also motivated by health, in which some researchers believe that coffee appears to ward off Alzheimer’s but also because I find the aroma and taste of a good coffee to be a total experience.

I am not looking for the most expensive coffee like the Civet coffee I tried in Indonesia. This is the ‘crap’ coffee made from beans swallowed and passed through the civet cat which is good right to the last dropping.

Fujairah Coffee Brands
The Fujairah Country Club had a Costa coffee shop in their premises but now this has gone and Costa has opened up two shops within the Fujairah Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). Unfortunately these are not public cafés where anyone can roll in at any time and have a coffee.

The Hilton Hotel is serving Gloria Jeans coffee in their restaurant.

The new Fujairah Harbour Club within the marina has LavAzza coffee.

The even newer Faseel Café has a sign outside declaring, “We are proudly brewing Starbucks coffee.” The Faseel Café and Siji Hotel Apartment staff members are currently undertaking training.

Progress Report
In my search for the finest coffee I have tasted some very good coffee at different places but sometimes when I have returned I have been served a coffee that was weak, insipid and tasted like mud. One day I sent a coffee back saying it was too cold.

I am not looking for the one-off champion cup but coffee which is consistently superior and can be relied upon when you invite guests to join with you.

I am convinced that it is not just the coffee brand or coffee machine that is the key element (although good beans and tools are important) but the vital factor is the training of the baristas (coffeemakers).

Got a Recommendation?
Let me know if you have found the place where the best coffee is served in Fujairah. Better still, invite me to come and taste it with you.

Drinking fine coffee is all part of getting through the daily grind.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: “The vital factor is the training of the baristas (coffeemakers).”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fujairah Water Sports Calendar 2009-2010

The list of events has been posted by the Fujairah International Marine Club.

Many, if not all of the following activities will require plenty of time for people to train and for teams to be formed in order to participate together as members of your company or organization.

At the recent Fujairah Swimming Championships there were several people who asked for the dates of the next swimming competition so they could get into training and clear the decks for them to participate the next times these races are scheduled.

Here are the dates for your diary and for encouraging the participation of your organization to enter into the team events:

13 November (Fri) 4.00pm Fujairah Crown Prince Al Shoosh Championships Heat 1
20 November (Fri) 10.00am-4.30pm Fujairah Fishing Competition Heat 1
17-18 December (Thurs.-Sat) World Cup F2000 Powerboat Championships
26 December (Sat) 4.00pm Fujairah Traditional Dhow Sailing Race 22ft

08 January (Fri) 4.00pm Fujairah Crown Prince Al Shoosh Championships Heat 2
30 January (Sat) 4.00pm Fujairah Traditional Rowing Race 30ft
12-13 February (Thu-Sat) Fujairah Jet Ski Race
19 February (Fri) 4.00pm Fujairah Crown Prince Al Shoosh Championships Heat 3
05 March (Fri) 10.00am-4.30pm Fujairah Fishing Competition Heat 2
19 March (Fri) Fujairah Marathons and Raft Building Competition
19 March (Fri) Fujairah Family Day
25-26 March (Fri-Sat) X-Cat UAE Power Boat Championship
16 April (Fri) 10.00am-4.30pm Fujairah Fishing Competition Heat 3
TBC (Fri) Fujairah Regatta 2010
TBC (Fri) Dubai-Fujairah Offshore Sailing Race
23 April (Fri) 4.00pm Fujairah Crown Prince Al Shoosh Championships Heat 4 (Final)
TBC (Fri) Fujairah Basketball Championships
13 May (Thu) 2009-2010 Season Sponsor’s Ceremony

Please Check
Some of these fixtures are still to be confirmed. Please check dates, times and further details with the Fujairah International Marine Club Ph. (09) 222 11 66.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fujairah Corniche Undergoes Beautification but What is that New Building?

In this cooler season, Fujairah’s Department of Public Works and Agriculture is undertaking a tree and flower planting frenzy along the main road on the city’s waterfront.

Twenty-four date palms like the one pictured are being planted between the Fish Roundabout (location of the Fujairah International Marine Club) and the Rugaylat roundabout (the next roundabout moving south).

The supervisor said it should all be "finished by Tuesday in šā’ Allāh."

New palms have also been planted within the Marine Club property which will add colour and life amid all the concrete and paving.

It is good to see the Municipality spending money on these palms that come from a nursery in the town of Siji, Fujairah.

Flowers (marigolds, petunias etc) will be planted in the next stretch of road toward the Hilton Hotel.

The city will benefit from a little beautifying.

Question for Quiz Night
In this photo you can see excavations being undertaken for a new building between the boat storage area of the Marine Club and the Tourist Night Souk.

What is the future function of this two-storey building (one floor underground) and two more points for being able to describe the logo that will adorn its exterior?

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Palm trees and a new building for some prime real estate on the Fujairah corniche. CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO ENLARGE.

Taking My First Drink of Karkady

I was waiting at the Fujairah Hilton yesterday and I was served my first taste of karkady.

Mohammed at the desk is from Egypt and he told me that karkady/karkdhi is a very popular beverage in his country.

It is made from dried, dark red petals of the Hibicus flower and according to Mary Kay Radnich, the best karkady comes from Upper Egypt. Tourists are encouraged to bring home their petals from Aswan or Luxor.

Mary Kay Radnich’s Recipe from the above link:

1 cup hibiscus petals
2 cups sugar

Pick over the dried petals, removing any stems or leaves. Soak the hibiscus petals in cold water to cover for 1-2 hours. Transfer the petals and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Remove the pot immediately and strain the liquid through filter paper. Return the petals to the pot, add fresh cold water to cover, and repeat as above. Repeat the process until the karkady loses its reddish hue. Then, discard the petals and sweeten the juice while it is still hot. Serve cold, although it is a pleasant drink when served warm in the wintertime.

She says: “It is possible to purchase hibiscus tea bags from other lands as a substitute, but the intensity of flavor will not be the same.”

Mohammed says that Fujairah residents can buy these petals from the Lulu Hypermarket in the dried fruit and nuts section.

Cheers! What a refreshing drink for any time of the day.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: A half-drained glass of karkady at the Fujairah Hilton.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Scientist Names New Species of Fujairah Fish in Honor of Father

A new subspecies of the fish—Mozambique Tilapia of the genus Oreochromis (Pisces: Cichlidae)—has been discovered in the Wadi Al Wurayah pools of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates by zoologist, Dr. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa.

The new species Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi has been named in honour of Dr Khalaf’s father ‘Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf’ (Abu Ali) who was born in Jaffa, Palestine, on 10 March 1938, and who died in Rilchingen-Hanweiler, Germany on 17 February 2006.

Dr Khalaf explained the thought behind the tribute:

“My father was a saltwater and freshwater fish lover all his life. He always kept aquarium fish in our home, and his great hobby was deep sea fishing. I learned a lot from him, including my first animal knowledge and the need to live with love and respect for all the animals we share our planet with.”

What a fitting tribute to a man who passed on his love for nature to others in his family.

Read the Story of this Discovery:
Second Fish Sub-Species Discovered in Two Months in Fujairah UAE, Experiencing the Emirates, 1 November 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

The new species Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi.

Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf. “I learned a lot from him, including my first animal knowledge and the need to live with love and respect for all the animals we share our planet with.”

Fujairah Swimming Championships and Future Hopes

The inaugural Fujairah Swimming Championships were held this weekend in calm waters. On Friday afternoon forty-five people took to the water, swimming 1500 meters from the Fujairah International Marine Club to the Hilton Hotel beach. [CLICK ON ABOVE PIC TO ENLARGE]

The event was held under the auspices of the UAE Swimming Federation, organized by the Fujairah International Marine Club and sponsored by the Hilton Hotel which provided refreshments for competitors and spectators after the event.

People competed as individuals and as teams. Winners of the gold medals and champion’s cups were Nabeel Ali (adult men division), Ali Khaleefa (youth—under sixteen) and Syqany Avumugam (women’s division).

The team competition was won by the Fujairah Swimming Club who beat the teams from the UAE Army, the Fujairah Police, Southern Discomfort (a group of expatriates from the southern hemisphere) and Le Méridien Hotel.

Medals were also awarded to Andrew Scholtz for being the oldest competitor (at the ripe young age of 55) and Abdulla Hassan (aged 11) for being the youngest competitor.

The recently refurbished Hilton Hotel beach was a scenic venue for hosting the award ceremony and the General Manager, Remco Werkhoven, judged it a successful event and expressed the hope that his hotel might continue to be strongly associated with this event.

The Managing Director of the Fujairah International Marine Club, Major Ahmed Ibrahim Mohamed Darak expressed his pleasure at this first Fujairah Swimming Championships event, noting the number of competitors and the substantial support from the community who cheered from the corniche and celebrated the participants at the finishing line.

“I want to host two annual swimming competitions in the future,” said Major Ahmed, “The annual Fujairah Swimming Championships for people from Kalba to Dibba and the UAE Swimming Championships for people from every emirate.”

The sport of swimming is at an early stage in the UAE and one of the difficulties for swimmers on the east coast is the lack of an Olympic-size swimming pool for training and competitions. Most of the competitors had trained in short swimming pools owned by hotels and clubs around the emirate of Al Fujairah.

Major Ahmed Ibrahim Mohamed Darak is keen that the Fujairah International Marine Club continues to work closely with the UAE Swimming Federation and in conversation he revealed one of his dreams: “In the next five years I would like to see a large swimming pool established on the Fujairah corniche that is of the highest standard and which is equipped with a school to provide training and coaching for our up and coming swimmers.”

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Images from top to bottom:
Competitors entering the water (Photo by Alan Nambiar)
Nabeel Ali
Ali Khaleefa
Syqany Avumugam
Andrew Scholtz
Abdulla Hassan
Remco Werkhoven (Hilton)
Major Ahmed Ibrahim Mohamed Darak (FIMC) in interviewed by race commentator Mohammed Al Badri (Fujairah Media)
Team from the UAE Army
Captain Adnan (Coach of the Fujairah Swimming Club)
Timekeeper and referee at the finishing line.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Flexibility in Face of Economic Crises: The UAE Example

This is a guest editorial by Hamptons International- property management company.

The global economy meltdown led to a collapse of major sectors. None of them were spared. Real estate and property were no exception. Interest rates went down and property prices went further down, and there were no investors in sight.

However, certain regions played their cards well. While many property dealers in the UK almost went out of business, the UAE played their cards well. In spite of all major financial institutions acting harshly to property dealers, the UAE government decided to spend their liquidity on infrastructure, supporting the market and helping to bolster it.

The UAE boasts a major economy in the globalised world. Dubai real estate and property development is a major share of that economy. While oil and petroleum is generally considered the major economic contributor, the real estate and property sector is standing neck and neck with the oil and gas sector. A very interesting point needing mention here is the depletion of oil resources and the need of alternative energy sources.

A lot has been said about climate change and global warming. This has led the shift of the UAE economy into property market. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah have emerged as the major property capitals in the UAE. Owing a property in Dubai is fashionable now, but there is a myth that needs to be broken. Dubai properties for sale are not as expensive as it is perceived. The key draw of this market is attracting people to a new lifestyle. There are no restrictions to the kinds of people and customers the sector is interested in. The word is “everyone is welcome!”

The dark tunnel of the financial crisis is coming to an end and things are starting to pick up again. Interest rates are competitive and available properties are on par with any luxurious property around the world. Dubai is set to be the new property capital and it has the capability to become the new economic force in the globalised world.

Dubai the International Metropolis, Experiencing the Emirates, 31 October 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: A new residence nearing completion in Fujairah, UAE.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Re-Registering Your Vehicle at Shamil in Fujairah UAE

Registering or re-registering your car is probably different in Fujairah from other cities where you have done this.

Here are some of the basics as they apply at the moment but be aware that the procedures and prices are bound to change.

Check with Shamil Fujairah on (09) 223 1968.

Where Do You Go?
The Shamil Vehicle Testing and Registration Center is the place you need to drive each year for your annual registration renewal although check the web site (link above for new testing places in al Fujairah).

Coming from Fujairah’s main street there is a major intersection 1.5 kms from the last roundabout (Toyota Car company) before heading towards Dubai.

Approaching the intersection the traffic is extremely heavy so it may be good to go early in the day. At the intersection where there are traffic lights you need to get into the left lane to turn left and where there are signs toward the ‘Al Hayl Industrial area’.

About 2kms along this road take the road going right (it has a sign indicating ‘Shamil’). The vehicle testing center is 0.5 kms and is at the end of the road on the left.

Testing Process
Drive up and into one of the 2 lanes. You will need:
* Current Car registration card
* To know the model of your car
* Old insurance policy papers

They will put your details into a machine and give you a Number which will later come up on the digital board inside telling you when your car is ready.

Leave your car running and take your Number into the air-conditioned waiting area.

The length of time it takes to test your car depends on the number of cars they are processing. On the previous day when I last visited they had tested 83 cars but they test up to 100 a day or as low as 60 cars. It took 10 minutes for them to test my car.

When the board indicates and sounds your number you go to the appropriate counter. If there is work to be done you take your list of things and get the car fixed before returning for retesting. Re-testing (I think) is free within 15 days and after that you have to pay a further fee.

If your car is OK you pay Dh60 for the testing services.

There are agents for insurance companies within this facility where you can purchase comprehensive car insurance. You need to determine the value of the car and pay then and there. Their credit card facility had not working for weeks so you may need to take your debit card and use the ATM in this facility or take enough cash (this could be Dh1500-3000 etc depending on the value of the car).

One pays for 13 months of insurance and what you haven’t used is credited to your next year’s cover.

The form stating that your vehicle is insured for the next 13 months is essential for completing the process.

The next few steps can all be accomplished at Shamil (a one-stop shop) rather than going down to the Police Station on the main road.

Registering at the Police Station
You go back down the road, turn right into the main road and within 0.6 kms on the right side is the Ministry of Interior Fujairah Police Station.

At the central information island you present your current car registration card and tell them you have come to complete the re-registration of your car.

You will be given another Number and asked to go on the left side for car registration (the right side of the building is for driver licensing). You may notice that some people come in with the two number plates from off their car as previously presentation of these was required to certify that this was your car.

When your number is called you go to the appropriate counter.

Payment of Fines?
The officer will check your car registration number and inform you whether you have any fines for speeding, running through red lights etc. There is a phone number you can ring to find this out anytime you think you have been clocked on a speed camera.

If you have fines you must pay these before you can complete the registration process. It might pay to take a stash of money!

Registration Sticker and Card
When this step is completed you pay Dh145, get a receipt and a sticker that you will need to apply to the rear number plate indicating when your car registration expires eg. ‘10/2010’.

You then proceed to the end of the building towards the road where a new car registration card is made. When you receive this you should get a message in Arabic and in English on your mobile phone saying: “UAE Traffic—The vehicle license of [your car number] Fujairah has been renewed on [date]. Thank you and we wish you safe driving. Sender—UAE Traffic.”

After such a process this is the best text message you will receive! Treat yourself to a coffee!

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: The Shamil Vehicle Testing and Registration Center, Fujairah.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Have You Tried The New Faseel Café in Fujairah?

The signage is up and the customers are walking in to the new Faseel Café on the ground floor of the Siji Hotel Apartments. There is public access from the street and hotel apartment access from within.

This new eating and drinking hole is on Al Nakheel Road across from the mosque and near the coffeepot roundabout. Check the map below for the location.

Here are some of the attractive features:

* The ambience is clean, fresh and bright.

* It has a colourful, floral décor that is sure to pick people up in the morning.

* It is spacious with a versatility of seating and tables—7 tables that can seat 4 people, 2 tables to seat 2 people and at each end of the café there is an arrangement of sofa or lounge type furniture.

* It has newspapers (Arabic and English), two TV monitors (with CNN and BBC) and WiFi so people can connect with the world in whatever way suits. This is a good place to come with your laptop and get a free, fast Internet service while you are supping your coffee.

For a café this has got a surprisingly extensive and varied menu (printed in Arabic and English). Here are the offerings (there is more detail on the menu card):

Garden Green Salad 15 AED
Chicken Caesar Salad 25 AED
Deluxe Star Sandwich 25 AED
The Club Siji 25 AED
Crunchy Chicken 30 AED
Croissant Sandwich 22 AED
Twin Tower Sandwich 22 AED
Flying Chicken Sandwich 22 AED
Grilled Bun Chicken Sandwich 22 AED
Beef/Chicken Burger 25 AED
Steak Sandwich 35 AED
Pizza Margarita 20 AED
Pizza Capricciosa 25 AED
Snake Bite 45 AED
(Deep-fried prawns stuffed with cheese, green chilli, served with coriander pesto and French fries)
Tex-Mex Chicken or Beef Fajitas 32 AED
Banana Split with Chocolate Sauce 22 AED
Ice Cream (two scoops) 18 AED
(This is the delicious Häagen Dazs ice cream and in addition to the usual flavours is the Green Tea ice cream that is really worth a try)

Cakes and Pastries
There is a selection of cakes and pastries which changes according to what the chef bakes. It includes (and the price is per slice):

Chocolate cake, Black Forest, Mango Mousse Cake, Praline Cake, Strawberry Cake 12 AED

Cheesecake & Tiramisu 18 AED

A selection of pastries (including croissants) and muffins 2.50 AED

Selection of Coffee
The signs say ‘We proudly brew Starbucks Coffee.’
Espresso 10 AED
Turkish coffee 10 AED
Freshly brewed coffee 11 AED
Nescafe, Decaffeinated Nescafe 10 AED
Decaffeinated coffee 11 AED
Cappuccino, Mochachino 12 AED
Café Latte 12 AED

Selection of Tea
Lipton 8 AED
Earl Grey 8 AED
English Breakfast Tea 8 AED
Chamomile Tea 8 AED
Japanese Tea 8 AED
Chinese Tea 8 AED
Green Tea, Lemon, Mint, Orange and Jasmine 8 AED
Fresh Mint with Lipton or Green Tea 9 AED
Moroccan Tea 10 AED

Hot & Cold Beverages
Hot/Cold Milk 8 AED
Hot/Cold Chocolate 10 AED
Iced Tea 10 AED

Fresh Juices
Orange, Lemon, Melon, Carrot 14 AED
Mango, Strawberry, Kiwi, Grapefruit 16 AED
Pineapple, Apple 18 AED

Chilled Juices
Orange, Mango, Apple, Pineapple 10 AED

Sparkling Juices
Apple 10 AED
Grape (white or red) 10 AED

Other Beverages
Fresh laban 10 AED
Vimto or Vimto diet 8 AED
Red Bull (original or sugar-free) 15 AED

Non-Alcoholic Beer
Moussy 10 AED
Barbican 10 AED
Holsten 10 AED

Soft Drinks
Cola, Diet Cola 8 AED
7-Up, Diet 7-Up 8 AED
Mountain Dew, Mirinda 8 AED
Soda Tonic 9 AED

Sparkling Water
Perrier (France) 10 AED
Apolinaris (Germany) 10 AED
Perrier (lemon or lime from France) 12 AED
San Pelegrino (Italy) 10 AED

Flavored Water
Masafi (strawberry, peach, lemon) 7 AED
Al Ain (lemon, lime, orange, passion fruit, apple, cherry) 7 AED
Volvic (natural lemon, natural orange from France) 12 AED

Still Water
Dibba 6 AED
Masafi 6 AED
Al Ain 6 AED
Evian (France) 10 AED
Volvic (France) 10 AED
Aqua Panna (Italy) 10 AED

All prices are in UAE dirhams and are subject to a 20 % service charge and tax.

Because of the menu range the Faseel Café is a good place for breakfast, brunch, lunch or an afternoon tea but it is also open until late.

The Faseel Café opens at 6.30am and closes at 1.00am.

The items and prices on the menu represent the details as at October 2009 but in time they are bound to change.

Contact the Faseel Café for up to the minute details, for more information or to make a group booking.

Tel: (09) 2053 347


View Faseel Cafe in a larger map

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.