Tag Archives: United Arab Emirates

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.

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.

Memories from the past

Enjoy some snippets of people’s memories from the old days

The traditional wedding in the houses …The buying of fabric for friends and family …choosing goats and camels… the animals in pens by the house waiting for slaughter..traditional food distributed for 3 days…The zehiba party …displaying jewellery n suitcases prepared for bride ..showing genorisity of grooms family..excitement of neighbours old and young…preparing bride for 1 week…pasting her with ‘neal’ blue chalk which is used to whiten clothes ….keeping her indoors to whiten her ….inspection of body by elders….party was a really happy simple occasion, not showy like today …and many such traditions of the simple bedouin wedding.
I remember the al Ain ones to be the best. What great humble generous people. They had little but gave a lot. (Alia, Dubai)

We used to get lots more rain. I remember having to pick my kids up as the school closed because of the rain and I had to wade through the water and my boots being filled with water. I had to carry the children out. (Salma, Sharjah)

When I was at primary school in the 70s, it often rained so much that the whole area was flooded and we couldn’t go to school. (Rashid, Central Region)

We lived in a small town near a British training camp. We didn’t have electricity or running water.  There was a big tank at the camp and we could collect water from there. There was also a fallaj running from the Shaikh’s land and we used to play in it. (Mohammed, Manama, Ajman)

I remember when  the Trade Centre was the biggest and brightest building on Shaikh Zayed  road. My children used to call it the fairy princess castle as the lights used to shine between all the others buildings. Now there are too many castles to choose from, each one brighter. I still call trade centre the princess castle. Nothing replaces that fond memory. (Salma, Sharjah)

In the old days you could drive from Safa Park to Karama any time of the day in just ten minutes. (Salma, Sharjah)

I remember when we first got tv and when the man came on to read the news my grandmother covered her face. And when we watched a movie on tv she would shout, ‘watch out, he’s behind you with a knife!’ (Salman, Abu Dhabi)

We didn’t have electricity or water until I was about seven. We lived in a small house which was just one room. We all slept in it. And we were all born in that house. (Hamid, Manama)

When I first moved to Dubai in the 90s, I lived in one of the few towers on Shaikh Zayed Rd. My living room looked out the back and it was just empty. We could only see Zaabeel Palace. Sometimes you could see camels off in the distance. That area is now completely built up with towers, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai. (Aisha, Dubai)

I remember camels just wandering amongst the villas in Dubai. And there was a Bedu man who came every Ramadan and set up camp near our house with all his camels. (Mel, Dubai)

Shaikh Zayed Rd was just two lanes and we could walk across to get to the Metropolitan hotel with hardly any cars around. (Mel, Dubai)