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Let Me Introduce You

July 16, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

Linda has asked for more information on Fujairah. We’ve only been here a little over two weeks, so my knowledge will be only skin deep. I might have had something to write before now, but much of our first week was spent driving back to Dubai for one paperwork errand or another. Only two paperwork issues remain in-process (that I know of) and only one will require another drive to Dubai, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Soon, we should be able to begin to deepen our appreciation of Fujairah.

The most recent population figure I’ve found is 180,000, but it is likely that this number is for the whole emirate, not just the city. It is significantly smaller than Dubai’s 1.5 million, but not really a “small town” either. There is a large amount of new construction, both newly finished and in process. Several new hotels, apartments, office buildings, and mosques. The city is a mix of these shiny new structures alongside older, thriving businesses.

view of north part of Fujairah at dusk

The oil industry is centered around refining and shipping. Since Fujairah is located on the east coast shipping to and from here eliminates the need to actually enter the Persian/Arabian Gulf. There is an underground pipeline delivering Abu Dhabi oil to Fujairah for shipping.

The fishing industry has a long tradition here. It has been hit by weather conditions this year. The monsoon season in India is causing higher tides here and rougher seas.

Agriculture is also significant here due to the geography and climate. The Hajer Mountains and Oman Gulf create a cooler, moister climate. (Remember this is all relative. I’m not saying that it is cool and moist here, just less harsh than the western region of the country.)

view out our window

The expats here are primarily involved in the oil industry or educational institutions. Last year when I was investigating the possibility of moving here, I was warned by an expat that “there is no culture here” which I knew was not true. We had already been out to see the bull butting several times. That counts as culture. I am sure she meant that there is little or no Western culture here. That is fine with us. We don’t need the opera, orchestra, ballet, although we could use a little theatre.

Just this week an expat asked me if I had found “our one and only supermarket – Lulu Hypermarket.” Actually, we have found several excellent grocery stores. I even found rice milk (which is rare) for the same price as soy milk in one of those overlooked stores. I was greatly excited. The one time I found it in a Dubai store, it was twice the price of soy.

The most obvious cultural difference that we have had to adjust to, so far, is the afternoon shutdown. At 1 or 2 pm, businesses close and reopen around 5 pm, with the exception of government offices and banks which just close at 2 pm period. (Imagine our fun having to run around doing paperwork making sure we got it done by 2 pm. If you think American bankers hours of 8 am – 5 pm are difficult to work around, be glad it isn’t 8 am – 2 pm.) The government and bank closures are the same in Dubai, but most other businesses go right on without closing.

Once the heat of the day/siesta is over and businesses reopen, then things get to hoppin’. Shopping is done late in the evening 8-11 pm. The town is lit up and busy. At least two new shopping malls are being built and we are concerned about the impact on smaller businesses. There really isn’t a need for malls here.

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