A Travellerspoint blog

Fujeirah, UAE

Cruise along the coast of Oman on a traditional dhow

Wednesday November 23

Our ship stopped at Fujeirah, our last stop in the United Arab Emirates. We took an excursion back into Oman: a cruise on a traditional wooden dhow along the coast to a sheltered bay for swimming and snorkeling.

On the dhow, there were 15 in our group and one Omani family. Onboard were also numerous helpers who explained some local geography and sites along the way, and brought out a tasty buffet lunch of hummus, tandoori chicken, curry lamb, Arabian rice, salad and fruits.

Lyle and I enjoyed a lovely swim in the salty water and swam quite a distance to find some clearer water and small fish. Back on the boat, on our return trip, we experienced a light rain shower (fortunately the dhow had a cover over the sitting area). More concerning were the crosswinds rocking the boat! Later, we learned that it’s the beginning of the monsoon season.

Once we were back on the bus, the shower turned into a downpour – obviously an unusual event as we noticed Omanis standing in doorways taking photos of the rain. This parched area that looked like it hadn’t had rain for a year, suddenly had water in the riverbeds and puddles everywhere. The narrow dirt lanes into residential areas were flooded and even the highway was flooded in some spots. Earlier we had noticed a highway sign in some areas where a road on flat land dips. The signs state: Stop when water reaches red. These refer to posts along the side of the road with red rings around them. Where the road dips, the posts have two white bars below the red bars. Fortunately, our bus got back through these areas before the water reached the red line!

Posted by HosMiniTravels 04:12 Comments (1)

Khasab, Oman

How time flies when you’re having fun! We’ve covered 3 stops since my last blog entry. Today’s our second day at sea so there’s lots of time to catch up!

Tuesday, November 22

In Khasab, Oman, which is at the narrowest point of the Straits of Hormuz, we enjoyed an excursion in a convoy of about 10 Toyota and Nissan 4x4 SUVs up a VERY steep and winding mountain road. Thank goodness for the local driver!! His English was limited but we learned that he had just finished his studies in civil engineering.

The mountains around us were bleak, dry, barren limestone rock, pushed up eons ago by the movement of 3 tectonic plates (Asian, Indian and African).

We made several stops along the way up the mountain. About halfway up, there was a small plateau with fenced off fields that capture some rain and actually had some green vegetation.
Jebel_Hari..ertile_area.jpg In that area, there were some goats and healthy looking donkeys. On the very top of the mountain, at 1700 m., there were outcroppings of black rocks with quite a number of sea fossils! National Geographic featured an article on this interesting site several years ago. Our guide spent 15 days traipsing around these mountains with the writer of the article.

Obviously, agriculture is not a big activity here: people fish for a living and buy their fruits and veggies at the market. The country gets some revenue from oil and natural gas; residents benefit by getting a free home provided by the government. People build their homes on slightly raised land, not on the large floodplain at the base of the mountains due to the possibility of flash flooding.

The mountain we were on is called the Women’s Mountain (Jebel Harim) because the fishermen would take their women and children up into these inhospitable mountains to keep them safe from marauders while the men were gone fishing for several weeks at a time. Over the centuries, the Portuguese demonstrated a very strong interest in this area but there were marauders from other regions as well. Still now, local Omanis retreat up into these mountains during the hot summer when the fish dive deep and foil their fishing efforts.

Posted by HosMiniTravels 03:53 Archived in Oman Comments (0)

Dubai to Khasab

Nov. 22, 2016

We’re already in Khasab, Oman in the Straits of Hormuz. Surrounded by rocky ridges, this port was established by the Portuguese as a quiet shelter for their ships. Just across the narrow strait is Iran.

Our adventures so far include staying in a heritage building guest house on the Dubai Creek, eating lentil soup with camel meat and camel milk ice cream, riding in a water taxi, and taking in the marvelous architecture of Dubai which blends historic Arabic and Islamic-influenced designs and tech-smart features in their ultra-modern buildings such as the Burj el Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) and the iconic Burj al Arabie – a hotel shaped like a dhow sailing on the water. We also wandered into the Meena Bazaar – a feast for the senses and a great place for purchasing cottons and silks from India.

In Abu Dhabi, Lyle had a tour of the town which included seeing the new Louvre of Abu Dhabi and touring the immense Grand Mosque, one of the largest in the world, with a design reminiscent of the Taj Mahal.

I visited the oasis town of Al Ain, a couple of hours away. The highways, lined with irrigated neem and acacia trees to reduce the impact of dust storms, were impressive. Along the way, there were street decorations marking this year’s 45th anniversary of the formation of the UAE.

The town covers a very large area because it actually contains many large, walled oases. While the coastal cities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) derive 80% of their water from desalinated ocean water, this oasis town draws its water from underground. The local brand of bottled water in the Emirates is Oasis – apparently water drawn from this oasis town.

The Abu Dhabi government is very generously sharing its oil revenue with its citizens. It has given each Emirati family a new home and 2 or 3 oases to manage. Each family then hires labourers (usually from Pakistan) to harvest the dates. While the UAE has a population of 4 million, only about 20% of the population is Emirati; the rest are foreign workers primarily from India, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

My tour included a visit to a camel market where they sell lots of camels for slaughter and some for racing. A racing camel costs about one million USD while a slaughter camel is a mere $4000.

Today, we are heading out on a 4x4 adventure into the rocky hills surrounding the port of Khasab.

Posted by HosMiniTravels 23:45 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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