Posted by: travelrat | April 22, 2011


Fujairah: 9th February 2011

There’s more to Fujairah than we expected; we had originally intended to miss it out, because the guide books have little to say about it … apart from some mention that it was the poorest state in the UAE, until Abu Dhabi and Dubai put money into it.

Now, there’s a large ‘Free Area’ where, if you can fulfil certain conditions, you can conduct business without paying tax. There is also a large and rather unattractive container port … we’d seen it via the ship’s webcam when it called in the previous week, and we weren’t too impressed.

But, there are still things to see. The Al Bidya mosque is small and unobtrusive, but the oldest one in the Emirates. It also has a fort nearby, affording an extensive view, as forts tend to.

On the way there, we passed through a town, and the guide asked if we could see anything different. Look at the photographs of the Emir, he said. It’s a different person to the one you’ve seen so far. And, the flags are different. That’s because you are now in Sharjah!

The town is an enclave; a tract of Sharjah territory completely encircled by Fujairah.

However, there were no formalities; although Sharjah is another country, it belongs to the United Arab Emirates, therefore it’s just like passing from England into Scotland.

‘But over there’ he said, pointing to another town in the distance ‘that town is an enclave of Oman; you do need a passport and a visa to go there.’

That’s not the only Omani enclave. Before the UAE was established in 1971, the whole area was under the control of Oman. However, they kept sovereignty of the town we could see, and also of the very tip of the peninsula on which the UAE stands, so that control could be retained of the strategic Straits of Hormuz.

I was wondering if I could count coup for another country on my ‘life list’ … but decided that, since we didn’t get off the bus, Sharjah didn’t qualify.



  1. In some ways the landscape is quite desolate but it is also captivating. I am fascinated by that part of the world. Amazing you need a passport to enter a town. Wow.

    • Have you ever heard of Point Roberts, in Washington State? It’s on a peninsula, and, because the US/Canada border is a straight line drawn by someone in an office, Point Roberts is completely cut off from the rest of the ‘lower 48’, and it’s impossible to get anywhere else in the US without passing through Canada.

      The trip used to take about 20 minutes; with increased security, I believe 3 hours is now the norm.

      A similar situation exists on Jinnack Island, Most of it is in Gambia, but the northermost mile or so is in Senegal. I don’t thik, though, that there’s much hassle passing from one to the other.

  2. Hi Keith,
    Fantastic photo’s, I would definitely put Sharjah on a Country visited list, you may not have got off the bus, but you were still there and went through it. 🙂

    • No, my rules won’t allow it …. otherwise, I could count coup for countries I’ve flown over, but not visited. I don’t, for instance, include Thailand, India and Malaysia, because, in each case, we were just there to refuel and/or change aircraft & never got off the airport.

  3. After dipping my toe into Lebanon, I’d love to explore more of the Arab world

    • If you can accept the restrictions … which, in most places, aren’t as draconian as we’re sometimes led to believe, you’ll find it a fascinating study.

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