View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Keep Discovering

This morning I needed to take my daughter and grand daughter from Fujairah to catch a 10.15am flight from the Dubai International Airport bound for London. Remembering that flights earlier this week had been disrupted due to smog and having heard howling winds throughout the night I wondered whether the plane would get off from the ground.

I checked the Dubai Airport web site for any information about cancellations or delays and made a useful discovery.

On the Home Page under ‘Flight Information’ there is a travel tool to find information on ‘flights from Dubai’ or ‘flights to Dubai’ according to the airline and the date. Very easily I was able to subscribe by submitting my email address and mobile phone number and, almost immediately, and by both means, I received my first alerts: ‘The flight was scheduled to be on time.”

Driving from Fujairah to Dubai I received regular text messages:
‘The Gate is now open and the flight is still on time.’
‘The plane is boarding.’
‘Final Call.’
‘Gates are closed.’
Then, after farewelling my passengers and heading homeward I received a further message:
‘The flight departed at 10.46am.’ Somewhat late but it was reassuring to know my loved ones were not stranded at the airport.

Upon reaching home and checking my Email Inbox I discovered the same number of letters bearing the flight information plus a disclaimer stating that the Department of Civil Aviation of the Government of Dubai (DCA) “accepts no liability for the consequence of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.”

The number of messages seemed like overkill and made me wonder how much this service was costing. Further research revealed that “the total cost for receiving the specified flight information is 18 fils if you are within UAE and 60 fils if you are abroad.” Instructions are offered for creating SMS alerts by a mobile phone. I was well satisfied with this travel tool and will use it again.

Geoff Pound

Source: Dubai Airport Web Site

Image: Dubai International Airport.

Why I Am Writing

Why I Am Writing Now
An experienced ex-pat who was hanging up his business boots in Bangladesh and conducting an orientation with his successor said to the newcomer:

“You will see a lot of things in this country that will surprise and horrify you but my advice to you is to keep your mouth closed for six months. By that time I will be long gone so I won’t have to fix any damage you have created. And by that time you will possibly have developed some tolerance, perspective and some wise understanding of your new situation.”

Having arrived in the United Arab Emirates at the beginning of 2006 my self-imposed silence is long over. Sometimes I see things that surprise and anger me about life in the UAE but by and large I am content and keen to write as a disciplined exploration of life in this fascinating country. I am not writing as an expert but as one who is eager to understand the culture and developing identity of where I live.

Why I Write About Fujairah and the East Coast
When I watch the television and read the newspapers I yearn for information about where I live and comment from its residents. But viewers and readers have to look hard to find items and articles that have a Fujairah focus. This week’s Gulf News has the following references:
* A passing comment on two Fujairah tennis players (27/2/07)
* Fujairah’s Buseirah Dam noted as the source of Dibba Pure Natural Mineral Water (27/2/07)
* Mention of the Fujairah Port in article on DP’s 17% growth (26/2/07)
* Fujairah’s football team in bottom place (26/2/07)
* Surprising win by Fujairah’s football team over Al Nasr (24/2/07)

The Khaleej Times doesn’t improve the Fujairah news famine, covering in this last week some of the above stories but also including references to the inclusion of Fujairah on the maiden voyage of a cruise ship, a report on two forthcoming sports contests (tennis and billiards) and a focused article on alarming price hikes by Fujairah bakeries.

UAE blog writers appear to be active but the focus of most UAE sites is on Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

I am starved of news and I enjoy reading the local monthly mag, the Fujairah Observer, because it is about my place and written about the people in this part of the country.

I am not seeking to be a journalist and make this blog site into an online newspaper but if it can help generate some interest, some exchange of ideas and some action it will have served its purpose.

Someone, learning about my intended blog site and Fujairah focus said, “Will you have enough to write on? Does anything happen in Fujairah?” Small towns have always experienced a rivalry with the major cities. It is part of the rural/city dichotomy. ‘Can anything good come out of’… Fujairah? I am sure it has and I am sure it will.

Why I Write
I resonate with novelist, Joan Didion, when she says in her article, Why I Write: “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

I resonate with that thought and hope that through this site and the sharing of thoughts it will lead to some similar discoveries.

Geoff Pound

Image: Coffee Pot at the Faseel Roundabout.