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Embedded Photos: 1.Coffeepot Roundabout, Al-Ain 2.Yield to Camels 3.Rosewater Shaker Roundabout, Fujairah3.Rosewater Shaker Roundabout, Fujairah4-5.Coffeepot Roundabouts, Fujairah
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  
DUBAI I: Oct 15-17 II: Oct 15-17 I: Oct 18-19 II: Oct 18-19

AL AIN Oct 20 Buraimi (Oman) Oct 21


ABU DHABI Oct 23-24
Desert, UAE, October 2004


October 22. OTHER EMIRATES "The Whirlwind Tour"  In the morning we couldn't resist taking a dip in the pool before we checked out of the Intercontinental.  We tried to stop at the local museum on our way through town but found it wasAl Ain Coffee Pot Roundabout closed.  Nobody had been able to give us reliable opening and closing times for Ramadan and it looked like we'd just missed it.  The fort was the birth place of UAE president, Sheikh Zayed.  

With one last pass through the coffeepot roundabout we headed to the mall to pick up breakfast at the supermarket and then through Buraimi to continue our journey around the UAE.  The road cutting through Buraimi ended as quickly as it started.  The little market from the day before was nearly half way across.  Back in Oman the road opened up again to wide open desert highway, just one more coffeepot roundabout before we were on our way.  Our vision for the day was to touch all seven emirates, or as many as we could before returning to Dubai.  We had the same big modern multilane highway for the first part of the way before we had to turn off onto a two lane road that went north.  The smaller road was still in very good condition and we made excellent time.  The map showed that we had entered the emirate of Sharjah, the capital of which was all of the way on the coast north of Dubai.  We were heading for the capital of Fujairah,Camel Crossing, UAE also called Fujairah, which stood all of the way on the east coast of the UAE.  

The borders of the emirates are somewhat of a patchwork quilt that resulted from British influence in the region.  In 1892 the British signed a series of exclusive agreements with the emirates in which the sheikhs accepted formal British protection and, in exchange, promised not to have any dealings with other foreign powers without British permission.  Under these agreements the region became known as the Trucial Coast.   In 1951 the Trucial States Council was founded, the direct predecessor of the UAE Supreme Council, bringing together the leaders of the UAE under a British political agent.  But, at the end of WWII, with India's independence and Britain's otherwise waning empire the British presence in the region ended.  Before withdrawing the British began the process of creating the borders that now make up the UAE.  According to LP, a British diplomat spent months riding a camel through deserts and across mountains to visit the village heads and ask them which sheikh they swore allegiance to, leaving the UAE with pockets of non-contiguous territories.  This all happened before the discovery of oil so one must wonder what the village leaders would choose today!

Fujairah, UAECutting across the desert we saw almost nothing for miles and miles until we reached another major highway.  We took it east, briefly passing through a tiny pocket of the Ajman emirate before we came upon a large market selling carpets and vegetables.  We did most of our browsing from the car, getting waves from the stall keepers to stop and come in.  We made one brief stop at a craft stall but didn't stay long.  Continuing on to the coast we eventually came to the small city or large town of Fujairah, sitting on the east coast with the 1021 meter peak of Jebel al Hilqah as a backdrop.  There were a handful of tall buildings but this capital was a very small cousin to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  We made a triangle around town that took us through the main downtown area, where we stopped to drop our postcards, and all of the way to the Gulf of Oman.  We hit a rosewater shaker roundabout, then a coffeepot roundabout before hitting water and turning up the coast.  It was an overcast day, not ideal beach weather, so we weren't very tempted to get out.  We hit another coffeepot roundabout!  There were some benches lined up along the waterfront where people were sitting and an odd beach picnic area that reminded me of an old drive-in on sand.  There wasn't a restaurant but the style of the neat rows of umbrellas with car tracks all around them gave me that image.  We stayed on the coast until we hit another large road that cut back to the entrance of the city.  Before moving on to the next emirate we gas-ed up and grabbed some snacks at the station mini-mart.  

Retracing the highway back the way we had come, we passed the market again and turned north in that small sliver of Ajman, passing through the one village whose.  We were back on a two lane highway which took us north towards the city and emirate of Ras al Khaimah, on the northwestern coast.  The very tip of the peninsula belonged to a detached piece of Oman.  Ras al Khaimah was more spread out than Fujairah and looked smaller, with fewer tall buildinFujairah, UAEgs.  It stretched down a small peninsula and around a port.  The sun was getting low so we were quick to locate the post office and mail our cards before driving to the end of the peninsula and over along the coastal road.  The city gave us the distinct impression that Ras al Khaimah was not as well off as Fujairah.  The homes were modest and some were even quite decrepit.  As we left Ras al Khaimah the sun was setting over the Arabian Gulf but the sky was still light enough to make out the long slender peninsula of Umm Al Quaiwain.  But, by the time we actually reached the base of the peninsula it was already dark.  Like Ras al Khaimah, this city was rather small and few tall buildings but in the dark it was hard to make a comparison.  We had to go around for a bit until we found the newly relocated post office.   

From Umm al Qaiwain it was just a skip south to Ajman and from there the metropolitan areas of Ajman, Sharjah, and Dubai all blended together.  Ajman and Sharjah were capital o their respective emirates but driving through it was impossible to tell where one ended and the other began.  The whole area was more built up, getting more so as we got close to Dubai.  We drove toward the coast of Ajman and went around and around until we found the post office.   Tall buildings and big resorts started to appear again.  Taking the Corniche Road toward Sharjah was saw many of them, more luxurious like the ones in Dubai.  The post office in Sharjah was a fairly easy find, not far from the Corniche Road.  It was known to be conservative and had the strictest laws governing dress anywhere in the UAE.  For men that primarily meant no "short" shorts or bare chests in public, which wasn't too bad.  But women couldn't expose the stomach or back, wear anything above the knee, or anything that was tight, transparent or describes the body.  But you are in a Muslim country, why would you want to?! The more severe restriction was that a man and woman not connected by a legally acceptable relationship were not allowed to be in public places together.  

We finished our tour of all seven emirates in Dubai but, since we had a car, we decided to go all of the way down below the Burj and have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Not sure where to get off of the highway we ended up wandering through the Media City complex, basically a tech center with many familiar names - Microsoft, Reuters, Oracle, etc. We found the Hard Rock pretty busy, with tourists of course.  A Hard Rock cafe looks the same anywhere and their Chinese chicken salad, which really isn't Chinese, always tastes good.  They were evenFujairah, UAE serving alcohol.  When Rob asked the doorman how they were able to do that he said special permits were given out to places that catered to tourists.  It was rather liberal for an Arab country but tourism was a growing industry in Dubai and they probably decided that concessions were necessary.  In chatting with the doorman more Rob learned that neighboring Saudi Arabia had extremely strict laws under Ramadan.  It wasn't really surprising but they went so far as to jail a Saudi person for three days if they were caught breaking the fast.  For a first time foreign offender it was just one day but a second offense got you thrown out of the country!

We were getting well into the evening once we were done with dinner and started to get concerned about where we would stay.  We stood outside of the Hard Rock with our guidebook and started going through hotels.  The hostel was full.  The low-end hotels were still over a hundred dollars. We even went as far as Sharjah and it didn't get any better. Did this many people really come to the UAE for a holiday during Ramadan? Just out of curiosity, or as a last resort, we checked the Intercontinental in Abu Dhabi.  Their deal in Al Ain had been so good we figured why not?  They offered a room for just about $100.  It wasn't $60 but it wasn't $130 either and it was an Intercon.  Since we were already south of Dubai it was only another hour back to Abu Dhabi so we hopped in the car and got down there.  It was midnight when we checked in.  They didn't have an ordinary double room left so they gave us an upgraded room at no additional charge.  A nice plate of fresh fruit greeted us when we got in.  Ahhhh...