This little fellow, the Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko, which has only been recently discovered, epitomizes the extraordinary emirate that is Fujairah.
Fujairah is also home to the endangered Arabian tahr, the Arabian leopard and freshwater fish like the Garra barreimiae that only live in Fujairah’s Wadi Wurayah and the Hajar Mountains. Such rich diversity but you have to search to find them, like most of the extraordinary things in Fujairah.
As Max said recently on Twitter: “ Driving up to Fujairah—UAE. Unlike Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this place isn’t flat!” Fujairah is 80% mountains, driving through the Hajar Mountains to Fujairah is totally different.
While the mountains are still yet to be tamed and tracked for hikers and adventure tourists, travelling from Masafi to Dibba will take you through some breathtaking countryside.
There are an increasing number of artists and photographers who are living in Fujairah—people who sense that the landscape is inspiring and firing up their creativity.
Judging by the numbers of people who visit from other cities, Fujairah is ‘the getaway resort’ for the UAE and it is increasingly the ‘blob out’ destination for Europeans who want a week or two in the sun.
Wadi Wurayah was designated the first Protected National Park in the UAE and it is a major centre of environmental conservation and research.
Photographers like world-renowned Michael Roggo have had a field day in this park.
Not only is this protected area a paradise for scientists who are making head-turning discoveries, it is regularly turned into an outdoor classroom for some hands-on learning about the environment.
One of Fujairah’s great playgrounds is the enormous stretch of water that extends 15 miles out into the Indian Ocean.
Fujairah is the fishing capital of the Emirates and the waters are generally safe for trawling around the oil tankers or sinking your line right to the bottom. Look at the extraordinary types of fish found in Fujairah waters.
Diving is increasingly a popular pursuit off the Fujairah coast as enthusiasts explore the fish, the coral and the shipwrecks under the surface.
Instead of building lots of shiny and glitzy towers, Fujairah is banking its future on old and dusty towers and forts. It has got more ancient sites than any other emirate and international archaeological teams come every year and make amazing finds in Fujairah. The heritage sites are still being developed and made accessible to visitors. They include the oldest functioning mosque at Al Bidya, the Fujairah Fort/Museum and surrounding ancient village and the Bithna Fort, which has played a significant role in the story of the UAE.
Several heritage villages have been developed at Madhab and in the Fujairah Fort vicinity but the Fujairah Social Development Centre is a superb place where people can buy Emirati crafts, see them being made and talk to the women who are making them.
When the traditional sword competition was established as an annual event last year (2010) it signaled a renaissance in Emirati culture. In its inaugural year two Guinness World Records were set in Fujairah—the largest yolla dance (traditional Emirati dance) and the highest throw of the Emirati sword. The competition is a focus for a showcasing of Emirati culture and heritage.
Other expressions of the extraordinary culture that you can see in Fujairah are the Friday afternoon bull butting, the traditional Emirati rowing boat races and the shoosh—the racing of the traditional Emirati fishing boats that are made from the date palm.
The small, rare, unique, different looking Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko is an apt symbol of the extraordinary emirate.
Don't bother coming if you're only looking for more of the same.
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Image: “The small, rare, unique, different-looking Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko is an apt symbol of the extraordinary emirate.”