Category Archives: UAE

Umm al Quwain Mangrove Forest

If you are like me and enjoy walking on a natural surface surrounded by nature, or if you enjoy bird-watching, this is a place for you. You can walk, cycle or drive the full length of the mangrove forest (approx. 9 km) And if you go on a weekday morning, you’re unlikely to meet anyone on your way. (Well, you might meet me!)

At either end of the forest, there are small beaches to sit and admire the view, watch out for local or migrating birds or just enjoy the peace away from city life. It’s a stop off point for many migrating birds and birds found living there include Western Reef Heron, Greater Flamingo, Crab Plover, Socotra Cormorant along with sandpipers, plovers, shrikes and many more. You might even be lucky enough to spot a Greater Spotted Eagle or a Kingfisher.

You can also enjoy the mangroves from the other side by renting a kayak or taking a kayak tour. There are tours of different lengths and at different times of day including sunset. You might see crabbers out and you can also join nighttime crabbing tours from the Flamingo Hotel.

Please note that swimming and fishing are strictly prohibited here.

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.

Sharjah Light Festival at University City

There are four locations for the Light Festival at University City. Drive down the main avenue through the City where the palms are all lit up and stop to watch the Sound and Light Show at Sharjah Police College. Next head down to al Dr Sultan al Qasimi Centre for Gulf Studies and finally drive or walk up to City Hall to watch another show. Then you can enjoy something to eat or drink from the food trucks opposite.

Have fun!

#SharjahLightFestival

 

Rock formations around Taween

If you are mesmerised by rock formations like me, head out to Taween on the Dibba Rd E87. Take the turn off to Taween on the side of the road coming from Dibba.

(If you enter 25.5307729,56.1166536, it will take you roughly to the start of the road.)

You can follow the road round to take you back out onto the E87.

The rocks here are all part of the Dibba Zone and if you’re interested in geology, you can read more here.

Learning to Cook at Sharjah Heritage Museum


I had a really fun morning last week while attending a Community Programme at Sharjah Heritage Museum. It was the second of four open mornings, each day with a different theme. The day before had been traditional medicine and volunteers from amongst the visitors had hijama, a form of cupping.  We were warmly welcomed by the local ladies who were hosting the morning and taken to the majlis (sitting room) to enjoy an Emirati breakfast in the majlis (sitting room) which consisted of Tharid, meat and vegetable stew served on layers of Ragag, wafer thin bread, Balaleet, a dish of slightly sweet vermicelli and egg, Khameer, a type of bread and Legemaat, dumplings drizzled with date syrup. Having eaten our fill of the delicious offerings, we had a quick tour of a relevant part of museum and were shown the tools for making Arabic gahwa (coffee) and some other traditional cooking utensils and spices and herbs.  Next we moved to a sheltered area outside the majlis where tables had been set up with portable gas stoves and pans. a delightful Emirati lady started to instruct us on the best way to make the balaleet we had just eaten. It was quite intense as it is quite a quick process to get it just right and I couldn’t help feeling I was on Ready Steady Cook or Masterchef!  A very enjoyable morning was had by all, even though we did go home feeling rather stuffed 🙂

Balaleet
Balaleet – made from vermicelli, ghee, sugar and egg

breakfast
The Emirati breakfast that welcomed us

khameer
Khameer (yeast bread)

thareed
Thareed – stew served on top of layers of ragag, wafer thin bread

Sweet dumplings drizzled with date syrup
Legemaat – sweet dumplings drizzled with date syrup

cooking class
Our cooking class awaits us

making balaleet
Making balaleet

my balaleet
My finished dish

cooking class results
The result of our hard work 🙂

sharjah heritage museum
Sharjah Heritage Museum