Category Archives: Heritage

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