Category Archives: Heritage

Al Rabi Tower, Khor Fakkan

Al Rabi Tower was an important part of the defence network in Khor Fakkan, located between Al Adwani Tower and the watchtower at Al Miqsar. The various lookout posts across the town would send warnings to each other by gunshot. It was first constructed by in 1915 during the reign of Sheikh Said bin Hamad Al Qassimi and has since been restored.

The view from the park where the tower stands stretches over the whole valley and out to sea.

For an even better view, take the hiking trail to the top of Khor Fakkan’s highest mountain, but be sure to be well-prepared before setting off. (See the photo with yellow arrows in the gallery showing starting and end points.)

Ajman Museum

Ajman Museum is often overlooked but it is well worth a visit. The fort which is home to the museum was built in the 18th century and was the sheikh’s residence for most of that time and for some time the police station before taking on its current role.

The fort was built in the traditional courtyard style and so most of the exhibits are in individual rooms with different themes such as traditional medicine, weapons, farming, Ajman Police, Ajman’s first radio station, traditional games, documents and manuscripts and even pottery and funerary jewellery found at the archeological site in Moweihat which dates back to 3000 BC (see also the cemetery at the fort entrance). At the back of the fort is the souq depicting traders and artisans at work.

Be sure to go into the barjeel, the windtower, and feel the effect of the natural conditioning. You can also take time to relax sitting in the courtyard imagining what took place there many years ago or sit in the gardens in front of the fort. Look out for the parrots around the fort too.

Opening times: Sat-Thurs 8am-8pm, Fri 2:30pm-8pm

Entrance fee: 5dhs

(At the time of writing, the front entrance was closed. Go round the back, the entrance is next to Shk Humaid Hall, there is no sign.)

Al Miqsar Village

The villages also has houses, stores, and a mosque all built of rock and clay. The rocks used were very large and some of the buildings, such as the mosque, are built into larger rocks. As the rocks used were from the mountain area itself, it’s hard to see the village from a distance and you can easily drive past it without noticing it other than the fort.

Al Miqsar Village was built around 300 years ago and is located atop a small mountain in Wadi Shie. The small fort at the top is known as Wadi Shie Castle and has high slits through which to aim a rifle and also to provide ventilation. It is also part of the defence network of Khor Fakkan City which includes Al Adwani Tower, Al Rabi Tower and al Hisn Fort in the city itself. The lookouts would warn each other by gunfire.

The village is currently being restored by Sharjah Planning and Survey Department along with several other historical areas of Khor Fakkan.

It can currently be reached by following the road to Wadi Shie from Khor Fakkan, after going through the underpass, keep to right at all forks. Or take the walkway under the Khor Fakkan Rd by taking The Walk on the dry side of Rafisa Dam (although the underpass is not yet very accessible to all). To take this route, park at Rafisa Dam, follow signs for The Walk and follow the path all the way under the highway. There is later to be a parking area for visitors there.

The Governor’s Palace, Masafi

A little known treasure in Masafi is the Governor’s Palace not far from the fort. It lies within the Fujairah territory of Masafi and was home to Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad al Sharqi although it was more of a stopover when travelling to other parts and, like the fort, was of strategic importance.

It has been restored and is open to the public. Its setting amongst the mountains makes it a beautiful place to stop off en route to the cities, beaches or desert and the gardens at the front provide a perfect place to just sit on one of the benches and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Location: 25.3040719, 56.1625868

Entrance: free

An enclave in an exclave

If you have driven around the northern parts of the UAE, you will no doubt have noticed that you pass from one emirate into another and then suddenly back again or you may find yourself in an emirate you thought you were nowhere near.

UAE geography is clearly not straightforward. This goes back to territories owned by different ruling families before the birth of the UAE as well as gifts of land between the families and change of allegiance to rulers. And as in so many countries, there was also a British political officer involved in drafting territorial maps.

Ras al Khaimah has a northern and a southern region separated by a strip of Fujairah. Fujairah itself is separated by Sharjah. The emirate of Ajman has two enclaves, one inland, Manama, and one in the east, Masfoot, whilst Dubai has the enclave of Hatta in the east. To add to this, Oman has a few enclaves within the UAE.

Sharjah is probably the most interesting and most scattered emirate. The main part stretches from the city of Sharjah into the central region which includes Dhaid, Madam, Maleha and many other small towns and villages.

On the east coast, the small enclave of Dibba al Hisn is sandwiched between Dibba Fujairah and Dibba Oman. As you continue your journey down the east coast you chop and change between territories, starting in Oman (the enclave of Musandam) then passing through Sharjah (Dibba al Hisn) then Fujairah, then Sharjah again (Khor Fakkan) then Fujairah, then back to Sharjah ( Kalba) before finally going back to Oman. Dibba, Khor Fakkan, Kalba and Wadi al Helou (a mountainous region to the west of Kalba) are known as the Eastern Region.

The most fascinating of these must surely be the tiny enclave of Nahwa which is situated inside the Omani exclave of Madha. Madha is bordered by Sharjah (Khor Fakkan), Fujairah and Ras al Khaimah and has a population of around 3000. Apart from the area of new Madha, it is mountainous territory with numerous beautiful oases scattered through it.

Madha became part of Oman around 80 years ago when its people chose to align themselves with the Omani Sultan rather than the leaders of RAK, Fujairah or Sharjah as they believed at that time that Oman could help them more.

Nahwa covers an area of just 75km² and contains a tiny village made up of new Nahwa and old Nahwa. It consists of fewer than a hundred houses, a police station with a fire and ambulance service, a health centre, a primary school, a sports centre, a small play park, a grocery and several farms. It is governed and serviced by the municipality of Khor Fakkan.

If you haven’t visited any of these places yet, it’s time to get your map out and start exploring!

And a few photos from Madha.

Old Souqs in Sharjah

Have you visited the old souqs in Sharjah? If you love searching for old treasures and you love retro, Souq al Masqoof is for you. You can find old telephones, gramophone players, typewriters, cameras, memorabilia, toys as well as some traditional items and shawls, etc. There is also an Omani sweet shop.

Take a walk through the alley to Souq al Arsa for yet more interesting finds – old Omani jewellery, gemstones, daggers, warrior helmets. Here you can also find shawls, scarves, dresses, etc.

Have a cup of chai in the traditional tea shop before going off to explore the many museums in the Heart of Sharjah.

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Just a little further down the corniche is the newly built Al Shanasiyah Souq. It is on the site of the original Al Shanasiyah Souq, the foundations of which were discovered in 2012 during a survey of the area for the development of the Heart of Sharjah.

This Souq was the original centre of Sharjah business and was a main trading centre in the region at the time.

Stop by the Archeological Findings section to read more and to see the original foundations and coins, pottery pieces, etc that were discovered from different times.

Inside you can find a variety of shops including clothing, more retro and an organic spice shop.

Once you’ve finished wandering round, you can relax and enjoy some refreshments overlooking the gardens and the traditional dhows on the water. There is a children’s play area next to the cafes. (You need to buy a ticket for this inside the souq.)

Have fun!

To know more about what to see and do in Sharjah, follow Why I Love Sharjah