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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

How Peaceful is the UAE?

Sometimes when I meet up with people from other countries and they discover that I live in the United Arab Emirates, one of the first questions they ask is, “Is it safe? Do you feel safe?” The fact that the UAE is part of the Middle East has contributed to a common perception that the country is turbulent and prone to terrorist threats.

A more objective way to gauge a country’s level of peacefulness is being made available today through the launch of the Global Peace Index. This is the first ever study that ranks 121 countries from Algeria to Zimbabwe according to their peacefulness.

Top of the list is Norway (Scandinavia is one of the most peaceful regions in the world) and not surprisingly, Iraq is at the bottom. What might alarm many Americans is to discover that the USA is listed 96th, only one place ahead of Iran. The United Arab Emirates comes in at #38.

This Index of Peace has been compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit through extensive research from their analysts around the globe and is comprised of a broad range of 24 indicators which measures internal and external peacefulness of nations.

The indicators include the levels of violence, organised crime and military expenditure within a country. The Index has also been correlated against a range of social development indicators including democracy, transparency, education and well-being to better understand the determinants or “drivers” that create or sustain peace.

It is very difficult to define peacefulness but the project aims to go beyond a crude measurement of wars and systematically explore the dynamics of peace. It provides a quantitative measure of peacefulness, comparable over time. Its founders hope it will inspire and influence world leaders and governments to further action.

To read the project’s findings, the indicators and to see where and why your country rates, go to this link:

Global Peace Index

Image: Graphic on World Peace, taken from the report.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mango Mania Week in the UAE; National Butterscotch Day in the USA

When I visited the supermarket in Fujairah on Saturday, colorful banners stated that this week is Mango Mania Week! There were over a hundred different varieties of mangoes from scores of countries of the world and a competition along the lines of ‘Guess the number of mangoes in the basket’.

These gastronomical anniversaries are piling up like dishes on the bench according to an article in today’s New York Times.

Did you know that next month in June it is National [USA] Surimi Seafood month as well as Turkey Lover’s month?

An incredible 175 days of the year celebrate some food or drink.

There’s Bologna Day, Vinegar Day, National Butterscotch Day, Peanut Butter and Jello Day, Apple Week and California Wine Month to name a handful of the 175 official food anniversaries.

Before you think, ‘This could only happen in America’, consider the food festivals where you live.

Certainly, many of these food festivals are driven by consumerism, some have ancient histories and are about a culture stopping to be thankful for the harvest but amidst the sharing of food and drink is the celebration of life, the fostering of conversation and the joy of communion.

To read this article here is the link:
Kim Severson, ‘Having a Snack? Make it a Holiday’, New York Times, 30 May 2007.

Geoff Pound

Image: Celebrate and salivate Mango Mania Week.

Rising Cost of Living in Dubai and the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is currently one of the hot spots for tourists to visit but it is a changing story for those who come to stay.

As this site has international readers, some of whom are contemplating coming to live in the UAE, I am posting some links to articles and reader’s responses that report the rising cost of living.

While some of the price increases relate only to Dubai others are national costs that impact on all people living in the UAE.

Gulf News, 27/06/06 Expensive Dubai.

Gulf News, 30/05/07 Cost of Living in Dubai will continue to increase.

Image: Price increases on ordinary things like vegetables and fruit.

Monday, May 28, 2007

What will it be like to stay in a Shariah-Compliant Hotel in the UAE?

Recently there has been a flurry of press statements and articles about the new Shariah-compliant hotel chains, such as the Tamani hotels developed by KM Properties and Holdings. The most recent report was written by Shakir Husain and published on 26/05/2007 in the Gulf News under the title, ‘Sharia-compliant hotels gain popularity’.

Alain Guernier, chief executive officer of the recently-launched Tamani Hotels & Resorts, is quoted as saying of Shariah-compliant hotels that “the business potential is huge as there are many local and visitors from the region who would like to stay in hotels which respect their values and culture.”

In Husain’s column the main distinction provided is that Shariah-compliant hotels will be alcohol-free. It would be helpful for potential customers to spell out in greater detail the services provided by these new hotels. Here are some areas for clarification:

Shariah Financing and Profits
Will Shariah certification be awarded only to a hotel that has been erected and financed according to Shariah principles and will the profits of the hotel be distributed in Shariah style?

Shariah Structures
It is noted from one of the reports that the Tamani hotels will have a separate women’s floor served by female butlers. How many other facilities such as swimming areas will be segregated? Will there be a mosque or prayer rooms? What structurally will be different in a halal hotel?

Shariah Employees
What additional standards and responsibilities will be required of workers in a Shariah hotel? For instance, will hotel guests be served and entertained by workers who dress in accordance with Shariah law, including head coverings for women?

Shariah Guests
How stringently will Shariah law be applied in respect to the hotel guests? Will ID be requested to ensure that only married partners share a room, along with any children? Will access be permitted to escorts with hotel guests? Will same-sex couples be welcome?

Shariah Cuisine
One of the attractive features of these new style hotels will be a commitment to Arabic culture which is likely to be well expressed in its cuisine. It is assumed that in addition to being alcohol-free that all food will be halal, in contrast to many international hotels in the UAE. Will refreshments and other hotel services be available during times of prayer? Will Shariah-compliance also mean that food and drink will be unavailable throughout the daytime during Ramadan?

Shariah Entertainment
Again, the promised Shariah service, blended with Arabic culture is likely to be evident in the showcasing of home grown entertainers. A strict application of Shariah law in parts of Nigeria has recently involved vigorous protesting and policing of local musical styles and instruments. Furthermore, in Pakistan there have been instances of music shops being looted because of the sale of music considered to be haram. What will compliance with Shariah law involve for the new UAE hotels in regard to music styles, instrumentation and dancing?

Shariah Questions
The application of ancient Shariah law to modern hotels is already appealing to many people seeking accommodation that is respectful of deeply held values. It also raises questions for prospective clients about what they might expect in the Shariah hotel experience.

As exists in the Islamic banking industry, will there be a group of Shariah scholars who will deliberate on hotel culture and will there be regular inspections with recommendations so that hotels might maintain their Shariah status?

Geoff Pound

Image: Alcohol-free sign.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Emirates Airline, New Zealand, ‘Emirates Team New Zealand’ and Being a Sucker

An interesting article was published on 23 May 2007 in the New Zealand Dominion newspaper (out of Wellington).

It concerns the sponsorship by the Emirates Airline of the New Zealand sailing boat entry into the America’s Cup, called ‘Emirates Team New Zealand’. The yacht this week qualified for the finals of the Louis Vuitton cup, the winner of which will race the Swiss yacht, ‘Alinghi’, which currently hold the America’s Cup.

It’s about hunting possums (nocturnal animals that are wrecking the NZ forests) and about being a ‘sucker’.

Here is the link: Why Be a Sucker for Emirates?

Geoff Pound

Image: Emirates Team New Zealand; Possum on a tree.

Friday, May 25, 2007

UAE Mosques Must be Emiratised, Hi-Tech, Online, Multilingual

An extensive report by the General Authority of Islamic and Awqaf Affairs is recommending sweeping changes to mosques and the practice of corporate worship in Abu Dhabi, which might also be the catalyst for reforming Islamic worship throughout the UAE.

The article written by staff reporter, Nissar Hoath, appeared in the Gulf News on 15 May 2007 and is entitled ‘Mosques go High-Tech’.

Hi-Tech Worship
The electronic innovations soon to be implemented in the capital’s mosques include an electronic network system, with electronic screens displaying prayer and prayer call (Azan) timings, titles of Friday sermons and Islamic lectures.

Mosques Online
Other suggestions include:
* MP3 devices for recording and storing Friday sermons and lectures,
* Sermon and Lecture downloads via the Internet
* Hotline for reporting concerns and offering suggestions

Correspondents added the hope that online materials might be available in languages other than Arabic but some wondered whether people would decide to say their prayers online rather than attend the mosque in person.

Another interesting request was for major mosques to provide a translation facility, especially for Friday prayers, so that the speech is translated into different languages for non-Arabic speaking Muslims.

Mosque Maintenance
The proposals arose in a debate about the poor conditions of mosques in Abu Dhabi, especially in regard to cleanliness and general maintenance. Some correspondents to the Gulf News complained about the lack of clean toilets at mosques, the defective sound systems and the dilapidated facilities at mosques in rural areas and along the highways.

Mosque Overview
There was a call for the replacement of all wooden and temporary mosques with new and permanent buildings. It was also noted that there are 2,757 mosques in Abu Dhabi. The authority manages 1,870 of them, 887 are privately managed and 753 are wooden and temporary structures. The budget for these mosques, including salaries, maintenance and affiliated education programmes is Dh12 million.

For international readers of this blog it is worth noting that UAE mosques are intended to be only a brief walk away from people’s homes. In our street, which takes 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other, I can count 10 mosques. There are larger mosques to which people drive their cars when they gather for the major Friday worship experiences.

Emiratise Mosques
Emiratisation (the movement by the UAE government to proactively employ its citizens to reduce its dependence on foreign workers) has yet to make its impact on mosques as it was noted that almost no UAE nationals are employed to manage mosque affairs and there are no national imams, muezzins and religious scholars.

To respond to this lack, Abu Dhabi Muslim leaders are looking at setting up an institute to train UAE nationals to serve as muezzins leading prayers in their mosques and prepare lecturers for educative purposes.

Geoff Pound

Image: Large mosque by Abu Dhabi highway.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

UAE Tourism: Searching for a Squared Enclave

Tourists are attracted to different things in different places.

George Walther (who I have never heard about until today) is a visitor to the UAE and he recently wrote in his blog about his UAE travel hopes:

“I’m going to visit the enclave of “Nahwa” a tiny territory that’s part of Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates. So, there’s lonely Nahwa completely surrounded by the Omani territory of “Madha.” But wait, it’s not that simple! Madha, part of Oman, is itself cut off from the rest of Oman and is itself completely encircled by the United Arab Emirates. Isn’t that reason enough to go?

For more on his travel plans check George Walther’ ‘Speaking from Experience’ web site and his 23 May 2007 post, ‘A Squared Enclave; Isn’t That Reason Enough?’

Image: Nahwa.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Amnesty International’s Report on the UAE

Amnesty International has just released its annual report on 2006 (dated 2007).

It contains an introduction, some regional overviews and entries on many countries such as Australia, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

What Amnesty International Does
In its web site Amnesty International claims to work to improve human rights through public pressure and international solidarity.

Amnesty International is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion.

Amnesty International's vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

Chief Issues in 2006
The key areas of focus for AI in 2006 were Control Arms; Stop Violence against Women, in particular domestic violence; torture and other abuses in the “war on terror”; the need for a peacekeeping force to protect civilians in Darfur, Sudan; and the conflict between Israeli forces and Hizbullah fighters based in Lebanon.

United Arab Emirates
Here is the full entry in the report on the United Arab Emirates:

Head of state: Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
Head of government: Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al
Maktoum (replaced Shaikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al
Maktoum in January)
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: signed

A Bangladeshi national was sentenced to death by stoning and a female domestic worker was sentenced to be flogged. Two prominent human rights activists were subject to harassment and intimidation.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum became Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai following the death of his brother, Shaikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in January.

In February, the UAE Society for Human Rights was established as the country’s first non-governmental human rights organization. Full membership of the organization was limited to UAE nationals but non-nationals could become associate members.

In November the Prime Minister announced measures to regulate the labour market and improve conditions for foreign migrant workers, including a health insurance scheme, fixed working hours for domestic workers and the establishment of a special court to resolve labour disputes.

Also in November, the President issued a federal law against human trafficking, which prescribes penalties ranging from one year to life imprisonment.

In December, nearly 6,600 UAE nationals selected by the rulers of the seven Emirates that make up the UAE voted in the first elections to be held since the country became independent in 1971. They elected 20 members to the 40-member Federal National Council (FNC), an advisory body with no legislative powers and whose other members are directly appointed by the rulers of the seven Emirates. Sixty-three women candidates stood for election but only one was voted onto the FNC.

Death penalty and cruel judicial punishments
In June, in the Emirate of Fujairah, a Shari’a (Islamic) court imposed a sentence of death by stoning on Shahin ‘Abdul Rahman, a Bangladeshi national, after convicting him of adultery with Asma Bikham Bijam, a migrant domestic worker, who was sentenced to receive a flogging of 100 lashes and to be imprisoned for one year. Ten days later the sentence of death by stoning against Shahin ‘Abdul Rahman was commuted on appeal and he received a one-year prison sentence followed by deportation to his home country. However, the sentence of flogging against Asma Bikham Bijam was upheld on appeal. It was not known whether it was carried out.

Risk of forcible return
In March Gazain Marri, a Pakistani national from the Baloch community, was arrested in Dubai and detained in Abu Dhabi. No charges were known to have been brought against him and there was concern that he might be forcibly returned to Pakistan where he would be at risk of serious human rights violations including torture. However, he was reported to have been released at the end of August.

There was similar concern after Riad ‘Abdullah Laila, a Syrian national and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was detained on arrival at Dubai airport in April, reportedly at the request of the Syrian authorities. He had been living as a refugee in Iraq since 1980. However, he too was reported to have been released uncharged and allowed to travel to a third country in May.

Human rights defenders
Two prominent human rights activists, who had been barred from giving interviews or writing articles for the local media for several years, were subjected to harassment.

Mohamed ‘Abdullah al-Roken, a lawyer and former President of the UAE’s Jurists’ Association, was detained twice, in July and August, by State Security (Amn al-Dawla) officials. During his three-day detention in August, his interrogators reportedly threatened to close down his office and drugged his food. He was prevented from using the bathroom. Mohamed ‘Abdullah al-Roken was released without charge but his passport was confiscated.

In June an arrest warrant was issued against human rights activist Mohamed al-Mansoori, a lawyer and President of the Jurists’ Association, after he was accused of “insulting the Public Prosecutor”. He had given several interviews to international news media in which he criticized the human rights situation in UAE. Mohamed al-Mansoori was abroad and was not arrested.

In August, attempts were made to bring criminal charges against Sharla Musabih, founder of the City of Hope Women’s shelter in Dubai. She and others alleged the charges were politically motivated and intended to force the closure of the shelter, which provides support for women and children survivors of violence.

The full report (in several languages including Arabic and English) and a summary by video can be downloaded from this link at the Homepage of Amnesty International.

Even UAE Dates Must Wear Burqas

In the UAE at this time of the year, the mercury is consistently reaching 40 degrees, the birds are squawking to keep predators away from their precious nests and the dates are turning from green to a variegated color.

It’s time for the maturing dates to be dressed in full burqa to protect them from those who desire to snaffle their ripening harvest.

Geoff Pound.

Image: Dates in burqas.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

UAE Selling Points

Since several American lawmakers last year torpedoed the bid by Dubai Ports to take over six US ports there has been a re-warming of US-UAE relationships.

It was evident in this last week when President George W Bush entertained the UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the White House.

Then the next day American CEOs stampeded to Washington DC to listen to the Sheikh and his colleagues do a UAE business presentation. After the obvious attraction of a country with rich oil stocks here are the chief sound bytes that were highlighted in the spiel:

* The pro-business stance of the UAE government
* The lack of corporate tax
* ‘There is no red tape’
* Efficient place for US companies to open a Middle East base
* Location! Location! Location!—located between east and west
* ‘The perfect hub’ situated at a strategic gateway
* Impressive infrastructure of highways, airports and harbors
* ‘Thriving tourism destination’
* Universal Studios is creating a $2.18 billion theme park in Dubai
* Nicklelodeon, the US children’s television network is planning a theme park

The sales pitch is working. Oil giant Halliburton is moving its headquarters to Dubai. Large companies like Cisco, Citigroup, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft and Oracle are looking for big revenues in the UAE.

There is a widespread loathing in the UAE of the USA’s involvement in Iraq and its tendency to act as global sheriff but this does not appear to be affecting the strengthening of trade ties and the development of business.

Geoff Pound

Image: Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Some World Records the UAE Does not Possess

While the UAE is often quick to claim and crow about its world records, here are some records it thankfully does not possess.

Today’s LA Times reports these areas where United States is still No. 1:

First in weapons sales: Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have totaled $10 billion to $13 billion. That's a lot of weapons, but in fiscal 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion.

First in sales of surface-to-air missiles: From 2001 to 2005, the U.S. delivered 2,099 surface-to-air missiles like the Sparrow and AMRAAM to nations in the developing world, 20% more than Russia, the next largest supplier.

First in sales of military ships: During that same period, the U.S. sent 10 "major surface combatants," such as aircraft carriers and destroyers, to developing nations. Collectively, the four major European weapons producers shipped 13.

First in military training: A thoughtful empire knows that it's not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.

More on this unimpressive record can be read at:
Frida Berrigan, America—The World’s Arms Pusher, LA Times, May 21, 2007.

Image: A Sparrow, surface-to-air missile.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rolling Out the Red Carpet

What a week for Emirati hospitality! One day the hand of friendship is being extended to American Vice-President Dick Cheney, the next day the UAE is welcoming Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It would be difficult to think of two world leaders who are further apart politically.

In extending such hospitality to these leaders it would be erroneous to conclude that the United Arab Emirates is embracing wholeheartedly the views, convictions and policies of the countries that these visitors represent.

It is hoped that UAE leaders might roll out the red carpet further and welcome for a robust debate the leaders of Israel and Palestine. This country could have a strategic role in bringing opposing leaders to the table and brokering initiatives for reconciliation. In addition to claiming world records for high towers, giant malls and a booming economy it would be superb to see the UAE taking a top prize for peacemaking.

Geoff Pound

Image: Salaam for two Presidents.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sideways Sand Shuffle

It’s that time of the year when scores of sand crabs are to be seen along the eastern beaches.

At low tide the sand looks more like the lunar surface with lots of large holes and about a foot away from each, a pointed castle of sand.

The crabs are about the diameter of an adult fist and they’re extremely shy on land so hopefully they’re just as shy under water when they see an approaching foot. One needs to look about 30-40 metres ahead to see them and they usually move in groups. Once they see someone they cartwheel towards their hole or skitter to the sea.

Geoff Pound

Image: A sand crab close up (this is not my photo but was presumably taken by a photographer with a telephoto lens) and signs of the sand crab.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sharjah to the USA: ‘We Don’t Want Your Business Just Your Understanding.’

The emirate of Sharjah took out a 12 page advertising supplement in the New York Times yesterday.

Here is a review by one American reader entitled, ‘We Don’t Want Your Business Just your Understanding.’ Blog Entry May 13, 2007.

Image: Sharjah Supplement.

UAE Energy: Switching to the Sun

New York Times journalist, Thomas Friedman, has an interesting story in this month’s edition of Open Skies (the Inflight magazine of Emirates Airlines), about China’s new energy makers.

Specifically Friedman writes about Shi Zhengrong, the seventh richest man in China, who is also the country’s leading maker of solar cells which transform sunlight into electrical power. Shi believes that renewable, clean power from wind, the sun and bio fuels is going to be the growth industry this century. But he is motivated, not by dollars (his fortune is reputed to be worth US$1.43 billion) but by a practical commitment to the environment.

This green entrepreneur is working to bring the cost of solar energy from the current (no pun intended) price of $4 per watt to a more competitive level, less than $2 a watt.

Such a commitment in a country that has a surplus of coal-powered electricity is a challenge to the United Arab Emirates that is blessed with rich oil reserves.

It is heartening to see Abu Dhabi recently taking some first steps toward solar generated power and establishing a new city that will be a model of excellent environmentalism.

It would be good to see other emirates such as Fujairah setting goals with legal conditions that require that a growing percentage of the UAE’s energy will come from clean, renewal sources such as the sun.

Source: Thomas Friedman, ‘China’s Sunshine Boys,’ Open Skies, April 2007, 35.

Geoff Pound

Image: Shi Zhengrong.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Time to Review How the UAE Protests About Israel

The University of Connecticut has recently put on the backburner its proposal to establish a satellite campus in Dubai because of its concern about the UAE policy which prohibits entry to Israeli passport holders.

This comes on the heels of protests about Yale University’s decision to establish an arts institute in Abu Dhabi and the 2005 decision of Harvard University Divinity School to return a $2.5 million donation from the UAE President, who was alleged to have connections with an openly anti-Semitic organization in the UAE.

UAE academics, Dr Ebtisam Al Kitby and Dr Abdul Khaleq Abdullah have condemned the move of the University of Connecticut, charging the decision as being politically motivated, ‘anti-Arab’ and demonstrating a lack of human rights when the university fails to protest Israel’s atrocities towards the Palestinians.

It is time to review the way the UAE makes its protest about the Israeli government. To deny Israeli passport holders the access to the United Arab Emirates is to incorrectly suggest that all Israelis are supportive of their government’s policies. The UAE’s entry policy is contrary to anti-discriminatory laws and this makes it difficult for international universities and businesses which are seeking to uphold basic human rights.

It is the students of the UAE who are penalized most when educational institutions decide not to establish a campus in this country and, at a time when the Ruler of Dubai has recently expressed his disappointment in the development of the education sector of the UAE. Furthermore, granting Israelis access to this country and its educational institutions would increase valuable opportunities for conversation and mutual understanding about the conflict in the Holy Land.

There are other ways, including trade embargoes, that the UAE can maintain a strong protest towards the policies of the Israeli government.

While calling for a change in the closed door policy towards Israelis, the UAE and Gulf States should change their policy in which an Israeli stamp in anyone’s passport will keep them out of the Arabian Peninsula. A stamp in the passport and a visit to a country is not a sign that proves that the traveler endorses that country’s policies. Their visit may have been to build understanding or to call attention to the violation of human rights.

Passport and entry policies which keep people from talking to each other only maintain the status quo.

Geoff Pound

Image: Israeli passport.

Monday, May 7, 2007

UAE Tourism Video: Fujairah on YouTube

The blurb says about the producer of this six minute film on Fujairah:

“George Jacob is a Dubai based film maker and founder of Moviemedia in Dubai. Core business is corporate videos, marketing videos, training films, induction films, safety films, television content generation, tv commercials etc. Having been in the Arabian Gulf for the last 29 years, he is well versed with the nuances and challenges of making films in the region. Moviemedia provides crewing and logistic support services to out-of-towners and they are more than happy because he goes the extra mile to meet the client's requirements.”

Check out the tourism film on Fujairah at:

Travel and Tourism Video for Fujairah

Geoff Pound

Image: Etisalat building, Main Street, Fujairah.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Oil Slicks in Fujairah Waters

Further to the recent postings on this site about oil on the Fujairah beaches and the resulting death of fish is the scientific testing and satelite photos of oil slicks as reported by Aftab Kazmi in the Gulf News article, 5 May 2007 entitled:

'Concentration of oil slick found off Fujairah.'

Geoff Pound

Image: Fujairah Waters with ships in the background.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Combing the Fujairah Beaches

The tide throws up all sorts of treasures on the beaches each day.

The Fujairah beaches are great places for conchologists, beachcombers and people out for a walk.

Geoff Pound

Image: An array of shells from the Fujairah beach.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Fujairah Growth Gets Presidential Verdict

The order this week by UAE President, HH Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that a third lane be added to the Dubai-Fujairah highway is the clearest sign that Fujairah is tipped for economic and tourism expansion.

It is also an indicator of the growing policy of regionalizing the economy rather than putting all the eggs into the Dubai and Abu Dhabi baskets.

The Minister of Public Works, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, said the widening of the 45 km highway would cost an additional Dh 250 million, bringing the total cost of the project to Dh 1.25 billion.

With speeds permitted of 120kms per hour and with a more efficient transport network it is likely that the lower housing and rental prices will increasingly make Fujairah a major dormitory city for the numbers who will choose to live on the east coast and commute to Dubai whenever necessary.

Geoff Pound

Image: UAE President, HH Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.