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

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Taking a Blogging Break

I am taking a break for a while, during which time I am not proposing to put regular postings on this site.

By all means trawl through the archives of this Experience the Emirates site.

Let me recommend that a useful method is to use the ‘Search this Blog’ function at the top of the page for tracking down articles on subjects of interest.

Geoff Pound

Image: Dates Changing Colour.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Does Oman Want International Assistance Following Cyclone Gonu?

Having met individuals this week in the UAE who are collecting funds and items to assist the people of Oman in the aftermath of Cyclone Gonu, it is astonishing and puzzling to read statements like this on the Gonu Relief Blogspot:

"If you are located within the Sultanate of Oman and are very much interested in donating to the Gonu relief efforts then please send a donation towards these local banks and their respective account numbers: Oman Arab Bank: 3101053013500, BankMuscat: 395011500081014 or: 32-60012-0081-038, Bank Dhofar: 0141160909000, National Bank of Oman: 1049337798006, Oman International Bank: 15-0090004-01. We appreciate all your donations and regret to say that due to circumstances beyond our control, international donations cannot be entertained."

What are the “circumstances beyond our control” that are preventing international financial donations being received?

Why is it that relief agencies in neighboring countries like the UAE have trucks of supplies at the ready but are not welcome in Oman?

Geoff Pound

Image: Part of the devastation in Oman caused by Cyclone Gonu.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fujairah: Moving Towards Natural Tourism

The action this week to establish the UAE’s first mountain habitat in Fujairah is a landmark decision.

This is an environmental step to protect some portion of the mountains, with its waterfalls, springs and shrubs. This is monumental in the context of extensive quarrying to extract rocks, largely for the reclamation of land and building projects in Dubai.

This is a move with ecological significance as the protection of the 129 square kilometer site at Wadi Warayah will help preserve rare plants, insects, fish, birds, reptiles and other animals such as the endangered Arabian tahr.

When much of the UAE tourist industry revolves around artificial attractions like shopping malls, museums, fun parks and high towers, it is heartening to mark the development of a national park that is natural, authentically Emirati and promising quality eco-tourism.

Realizing that the UAE has few ancient buildings and areas that encapsulate Emirati and Arabic culture, the sensitive showcasing of Wadi Wurayah will highlight the burial grounds and archaeological sites with their artifacts to tell the unique stories and traditions of the indigenous people.

Geoff Pound

Image: The rare Arabian tahr; Glimpses of life Wadi Wurayah can be found in this Gulf News link.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fujairah’s Flowering Development Post Cyclone Gonu

Last week Fujairah was making international headlines for its connection with Cyclone Gonu. This week the Fujairah city and emirate is making the headlines for all the right reasons.

Fujairah is getting runs on the board in the sphere of sport as it gets ready to host a national 20/20 cricket tournament, which is one of the developmental steps towards having a successful UAE cricket team.

Volunteerism by hundreds of people from the UAE’s Takatof organization to help with the Cyclone Gonu clean up is a significant service and another positive spin off from the disaster.

Fujairah is making financial headlines with the decision of Dubai’s biggest investment company to launch a branch in the eastern city starting with a capital of $136 mill. This is a further example of the UAE’s policy of regionalization.

A dormant oil refinery in Fujairah has been purchased and will be used to increase the oil refinery and bunkering capacity in the east.

Fujairah’s power and desalination plant is being extended significantly in a new $2.5 bill venture.

Bigs moves are being made in the environmental sphere in Fujairah with the 129 square kilometer Wadi Wurayah being declared an important conservation area that is home to several species of animal and plant life unique to the United Arab Emirates. This area also hosts some of the UAE’s key archaeological sites.

Sport, volunteerism, finance, oil industry, power plants, water desalination, the environment and archaeology are some of the important areas where Fujairah is not only bouncing back from Cyclone Gonu but flowering in a variety of ways.

Geoff Pound

Image: Wadi and mountains near the Dubai entry to Fujairah.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cyclone Gonu and the Red Crescent: Coordinating the Relief Effort

Leaders of Fujairah’s Red Crescent, Branch Manager, Sohel Rashid Al Qadi and Senior Administrator of Human Resources, Hassan Rashed Mohamed Dhanhani are tired but satisfied as they reflect on their contribution to the relief efforts during last week’s visit of Cyclone Gonu.

Sohel, Hassan and their team were very involved in finding and funding temporary accommodation and food for the hundreds of families who were evacuated at the height of the cyclone. While hotel accommodation was offered in Sharjah, Hassan Dhanhani said that most people opted to stay together and close to home, within the facilities of a local university. All evacuees have now returned to their homes. The UAE government has been sending scores of assessors yesterday and today to those most affected by the cyclone, in order to itemize the damage and determine the amount that each family will receive to reestablish their homes and lives.

Hassan Dhanhani said that the Red Crescent has been engaged this year in a nationwide programme drawing together the Police, Civil Defence and all key players to work out how best to operate together, should a disaster strike the United Arab Emirates. Cyclone Gonu arrived before the programme had finished but it provided a good test of what they had learned thus far.

There were many players involved in the relief effort for Cyclone Gonu, Hassan said, but the biggest challenge was not a lack of people or resources but the effective coordination of all people concerned. “We did well,” Dhanhani said, “but there are still areas for us where we can improve.”

The United Arab Emirates has played an active role in the provision of financial aid to developing countries and has been a major contributor of emergency relief to regions affected by conflicts and natural disasters.

Much of the assistance has been supplied by the Government, but in recent years the UAE Red Crescent has emerged as a major international relief agency. One of the top ten of the world’s Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, it has disbursed over US$460 million in 95 countries in the last year alone.

The major focus of the country’s emergency relief programme in recent years has been on Lebanon but the government relief efforts combined with the Red Crescent have also centred on Palestine (especially Gaza and the West Bank), the rebuilding programme in Indonesia following the tsunami in 2004, the earthquake relief in Pakistan and India in 2005, aid to the Sudan and further assistance following the earthquake in Java last year. The UAE government and relief agencies like the Red Crescent are involved in many aid projects around the world and make a significant financial contribution, along with many UAE commercial institutions.

While most of these concern massive disasters and large developmental projects, organizations like the Red Crescent, through branches such as Fujairah, are involved in the very personal assessment of human needs and responding in practical support and generosity.

The Red Crescent has received good support in this last week but needs more financial gifts to respond to the needs of people from Fujairah through to Dibba.

Check out this link to the Red Crescent if you would like to assist by donating through your bank account, paying by cheque or credit card or asking for one of the Red Crescent volunteers to visit you to receive your cash donation.

Geoff Pound

Image: Sohel Rashid Al Qadi (Fujairah Manager) and Hassan Rashed Mohamed Dhanhani (Senior Administrator) at the Red Crescent office.

Cyclone Gonu: The Fujairah Walls Come Down

Tourists to the UAE’s east coast could be forgiven for being oblivious to the cyclone that raged through the Fujairah waters last week, disturbing those close to the sea.

Driving along the coastal road today there are few obvious signs of the recent cyclone.

The earth movers that were out in force last week, erecting the very effective barriers against the rising tides, returned today.

They worked at a more sedate pace, dropping the wall and removing the rubble.

Geoff Pound

Image: Down it comes!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cyclone Gonu: Time for Assessing Losses and Gains

Insurance Assessors are working overtime at present to process claims and establish the extent of the loss caused by the visit of Cyclone Gonu last week.

It is relatively easy to tot up the damage to carpets, electrical wiring, furniture, footpaths and the foundations of buildings. Beachside hotel and resort managers will not only be calculating the cost of the wreckage to their sandy beaches but the loss of guests last week and the effect on future bookings while services and expectations are being restored. Businesses and schools will have lost some days of trading and training. Of special concern has been the damage incurred by those in the fishing industry, not to mention the loss of fishing time, fish caught and the damage done to reefs and fishing grounds. The Municipality, Police, Civil Defence and related organizations will have requested their staff to do overtime and the building of rock walls to stay the tide will be extra items on the expense side of this month’s ledger.

Perhaps a harder, yet just as important exercise is to assess the emotional impact that such an event is having on people, families and the community. The loss of loved ones, the act of being evacuated, the invasion and damage to one’s ‘castle’, the death of pets are all experiences that can induce shock, prompt ongoing trauma and trigger the various signs of grief. We can feel these things deeply but we can underestimate their effect because they are not usually visible to us or to others. We can think that everything within us should be OK as soon as the carpets have been dried and the rubble has been removed from the front lawn. But often the focus on the physical cleanup can delay our attention to our emotional debris. The truth is that these losses can influence our lives for months and years. They do not go away by ‘sweeping them under the Persian rug’ and adopting the stiff upper lip. We need to talk to a good friend or a confidential counselor who understands and affirms the reality of our loss and can help us assess the power of these emotions. To seek such help is not a sign of weakness. Such therapy for broken hearts and dashed hopes is as essential as seeking skilled medical care for a broken limb. It is important to look out for the telltale signs in ourselves and in others—our niggliness, anger, tiredness and depression.

Of special importance is to be alert to the signs of trauma and anxiety in children who may not be able to articulate their fear in words but may communicate through sleeplessness, stroppiness and heaving toys across the room.

When many are feeling bereft it is a delicate matter to suggest that our assessment of Cyclone Gonu should also seek to identify the gains. Such an exercise should in no way minimize the enormity of one’s loss or be an encouragement to adopt a ‘Pollyanna attitude.’ While people waited and watched the tides getting higher last week, there was an amazing sense of community. The growing threat was a common talking point. The disaster was disarming and it had a leveling effect. People talked to each other in ways that disregarded social position. We sensed a solidarity through the crisis that transcended the walls of culture, religion and gender. People reached out to others in a myriad of practical ways that communicated more powerfully than words and were understood exactly, regardless of our language.

Didn’t we also sense a connection with the international community as the media named the crisis and the peoples of Oman, the UAE and Iran? Perhaps for the very first time Fujairah was not only mentioned by the international media but this far-flung eastern city upstaged Dubai in publicity and global recognition.

The reception of emails and comments in newspapers and on web sites from people in many different countries made us aware and appreciate afresh the concern and basic goodness of humankind. The interest and expressions of care from groups such as those in the Hurricane Katrina Community is testimony to the amazing fellowship that there is in suffering and hope. These are some of the very positive things that many are already glimpsing as we begin to do a Cyclone Gonu stock take.

This story may be apocryphal but why let the truth get in the way of a good story!? When the Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976) was asked to assess the impact of the French revolution (1789-1799), he replied, “It’s far too early to say.” In a similar vein, it is far too soon to assess the full impact of Cyclone Gonu but it is not too early to begin.

Geoff Pound

Image: Fujairah and surrounding region on the map.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Fujairah Fish Prices and Other Foods Rise Due to Cyclone Gonu

Articles on the centrality of the fishing industry to Fujairah and to the Emirati diet, receive a new complexion in the light of the soaring price of fresh fish.

Fish markets have closed in Kalba and Fujairah due to the interruption to fishing on the UAE east coast but early birds to the supermarkets might be lucky to score some fish for tonight’s dinner. However, in supermarkets today, shoppers were discovering not only a diminishing of volume but a narrowing of the range of fish available.

Supermarkets were working hard to purchase fish for Fujairah customers from nearby Sharjah (hammour, saal and sheri) and from international suppliers in India (Black Pompret) and Pakistan (coffer). Saudi Arabia was also sending fish across the border.

The biggest discovery for Fujairah customers today will be what is written on the price tickets.

At the large Lulu Hypermarket in Fujairah today (9 June 2007) here is an indication of some of the price increases (in dirham per kg) according to their fishmongers:

Hammour, usually 28.00 today 36.00
Saal, usually 9.90 today 17.00
Sheri, usually 7-10 today 17.00
Coffer, usually 8-9 today 22.00

Shop assistants were reporting other foods in short supply, possibly causing a rise in prices. Omani supplies of bottled water had been disrupted due to Cyclone Gonu. Other Fujairah brands such as Masafi water were still available.

Vigilant shoppers might want to check today’s supermarket prices against the price of goods on 7 April 2007 when a large number of goods from the Fujairah Lulu Hypermarket were listed and prices recorded. The link for this list is ‘Food Shopping in the United Arab Emirates.’

Geoff Pound

Image: Fish at Fujairah Lulu Hypermarket today.

The Black Swan Syndrome: How Cyclone Gonu is Raising Oil Prices

Oil prices began to climb higher on Wednesday as eyes were focused on the pathway of Cyclone Gonu from Oman, brushing the coast of the UAE and proceeding towards the Persian Gulf.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the price of light, sweet crude for July delivery was up 15 cents US at $65.76 US a barrel.

Why did Gonu lift the oil prices?

The storm caused little damage to Oman's small oilfields and no damage to UAE fields. It was some concern that the cyclone would reach the Iranian coast on Thursday but it was weakening and its centre was far from Iran's offshore oil installations.

The high seas prevented tankers from sailing from Omani ports and the large bunkering port at Fujairah. There were fears that the storm could disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz where one-fifth of the world's oil passes at the south-eastern entrance to the Persian Gulf. With 17-21 million barrels a day of oil coming out of the Persian Gulf some tanker delays, could reduce the supply of oil and increase prices.

Is this a case of putting up the prices simply to cover the bases and insure against the possibility of damage to oil plants and the disruption of oil exports? How much skulduggery is involved in bumping up the price when a disaster is on the cards?

A cynic might interpret the oil rise this way:

Rain pelting down,
Waves crashing down,
Wind beating down,
Hopes tumbling down,
Plans falling down.
Something must start going up.

Dan Denning of the Australian web site The Daily Reckoning had another explanation for the oil price increase—the Black Swan syndrome. On 6 June 2007 he writes:

“Boy do we love a good Black Swan. And this could be a good one. Global oil prices are up on the chance that the cyclone could hit the southern coast of Iran and disrupt shipping and production of oil in the Gulf.”

“A Black Swan, by the way, is the term philosopher Nassim Taleb uses for a low probability, high impact event; they are so named because until Europeans found Black Swans everywhere in Australia, they were considered so rare as to be statistically insignificant. A cyclone impairing or destroying production capacity in the world’s most important oil region certainly qualifies as a Black Swan.”

“But here’s the thing. As Taleb points out, Black Swans are not as rare in financial markets as today’s modern financial models would suggest. They are more common than you’d expect. And the funny thing is, as the world’s financial markets become more complex and more integrated, Black Swans seem to be taking flight with increasing frequency. Hmm.”

Link to Dan Denning’s article:
Oil Prices Rise With Fears Cyclone Gonu May Hit Southern Iran

Geoff Pound

Image: Black Swan

Friday, June 8, 2007

Cyclone Gonu Tracked by Weather Experts

The postings by weather expert, Jim Andrews, track Cyclone Gonu and contain amazing satellite images.

There are several entries over the days from 2 to 7 June 2007.


Image: Weather settings on the world.

Hurricane Katrina Links With Cyclone Gonu

The devastation of Cyclone Gonu has not been as great and the aftermath may not be as long as for the many involved in Hurricane Katrina, which has spawned valuable web sites such as Beyond Katrina: The Voice of Hurricane and Disaster Recovery.

This extensive site seems to be going strong 648 days (on 8 June 2007) after the hurricane struck. Through its regular postings of resources and its initiation of conversation, this site appears to be fulfilling comprehensively its mission, “to inspire recovery, transformation and a new vision through the deeper wisdom of crisis.”

The contributors to Beyond Katrina have been following the progress of other storms and have taken an interest in what is happening with Cyclone Gonu in Oman, the UAE and now Iran.

Check out their Beyond Katrina posting on Cyclone Gonu.

For those who have suffered greatly because of Cyclone Gonu, the Beyond Katrina web site provides a marvelous supply of down-to-earth resources and a supportive network of hope.

Thanks guys for your interest and support and while you’re at it, please vote in a ‘green’ President who is serious about the environmental impact of policies decided in Washington on the whole globe.

Geoff Pound

Image: Beyond Katrina logo

Cyclone Gonu: The Story According to Wikipedia

Been There. Done That. Bought the T-Shirt
In laid back Fujairah it is hardly likely that the marketers will produce a cyclonic range of T-shirts with words like ‘I Survived Cyclone Gonu’ in Arabic and English.

An enterprising member of the Indian community (that makes up 60% of the UAE population) might produce a T-shirt with the words, ‘Cyclone Gonu: Pani, Pani, Everywhere.’

These locally inspired T-shirts could be added to the proposed Sheesha range of Fujairah T-Shirts that I have written about elsewhere on this site.

Cyclone Gonu on the World Wide Web
There’s an ancient Middle Eastern saying that goes like this: “Before you call, I will answer!” A new variation on this saying could be, “Before it comes, I will write the story.”

Even before Cyclone Gonu had reached Oman and the UAE the story was being written and posted by the free, online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

The ‘Cyclone Gonu’ story is one of their many articles that changes as the event progresses e.g. at the time of reading (8 June 2007), the CG story reported that “at least 35 people are known to have died from Cyclone Gonu.”

The Wiki article covers the history of the storm, sketches the preparations made by different countries, records the impact of the cyclone, describes the aftermath and lists a helpful number of references for further research.

This moving story by Wikipedia is a good example of the usefulness of an updated encyclopedia entry.

Geoff Pound

Image: Wikipedia logo.

Cyclone Gonu: Ships Waiting in Fujairah Waters

There are always scores of ships anchored 10-15 kilometres out from Fujairah but today (Friday 8 June 2007) there were more than 100 ships queuing into the breeze that was blowing south from Iran.

The Fujairah port had closed on Wednesday and while it had reopened on Thursday morning, the loading and unloading was put on hold while waiting for calmer seas.

Geoff Pound

Image: Ships in Fujairah waters on the distant horizon.

Cyclone Gonu: Damage to the Fujairah Hilton Hotel

Many readers have been asking about the extent of the damage caused by Cyclone Gonu to the Fujairah Hilton Hotel.

A Gulf News article reported this morning (8 June 2007) on the cancellations and evacuations at Le Meredien, the relocation of people from the beachside building at the new Rotana Hotel and the damage to the beach and drop in guest numbers at the Sandy Beach Hotel.

Markus Kraus, the General Manager of the Fujairah Hilton, said to me this morning that his hotel had experienced minimal damage, partly due to the extensive sandbagging and wall building along the beach frontage.

The problems they are dealing with include the breaking up of the concrete terrace overlooking the beach and the dropping and breaking of a concrete floor (due to erosion) of the popular outdoors ‘Sailor’s Kitchen’. Some landscaping needs to be done but the property around the pool looks fine.

The 200 metre private beach is littered with rocks and stones and most of the concrete-weighted umbrellas have been wrecked.

Subject to the advice from engineers and insurers today, Kraus expects the beach to be partially reopened by Sunday.

“At this stage,” said the General Manager, “It is difficult to put a figure on the cost of the damage but I will have an accurate picture when I receive the Insurance assessor’s report today.”

The Hilton sustained no internal water damage. The hotel is fully operational and this morning guests and day visitors were enjoying swimming in the pool.

In contrast to other hotels along the coast that have reported a major drop in occupancy rates, Kraus said that last night the Hilton had an 80% occupancy and tonight it will reach 97% of its capacity, with a large number of business people, government officials and media personnel booked for the night or weekend.

Geoff Pound

Images: Havoc on the Hilton Hotel beach; Workmen considering how to restore the terrace and floor of the ‘Sailor’s Kitchen’.

Cyclone Gonu Way from the UAE

U2’s song Beautiful Day, could be a fitting theme song for Fujairah today.

The sky is clear, the sun is up and the sea is calm. The high tide yesterday did not appear to score any further damage to properties.

The clean up is yet to be done but insurance agents are expected to be busy today assessing the damage in Fujairah.

While medical or health insurance is popular and essential in the UAE there is an ambivalence towards household and travel insurance and many expats do what the locals do and not bother. It will be interesting to see if there is a run on new insurance policies, including the Islamic insurance known as takaful.

At Kalba, several kilometers south of Fujarah and on the UAE/Oman border, they are reporting extensive damage to fishing boats and equipment. This is a significant loss as fishing is an ancient and important industry in these parts. The fish markets in Kalba and Fujairah continue to remain closed and the price of fish is soaring throughout supermarkets and shops in the UAE.

Hotels and resorts on the east coast have been reporting today significant damage to their beaches and a drop in guest numbers.

Today is Friday, the major day of worship for Muslims and Christians in the UAE. At the mosques and church services there will be opportunities for reflection and expressions of thanksgiving for divine protection and aid. Even in the midst of the approaching cyclone the most repeated words in this country have still been ‘Insha’Allah’ (‘God willing’) and alhamdulillah (Praise be to God’ or colloquially ‘Thank God.’

Geoff Pound

Image: Friday in Fujairah—It’s a ‘Beautiful Day’.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Cyclone Gonu Still Full of Bluster

The wind that was coming from a northerly direction (parallel with the coast) was extremely blustery this afternoon and the waves seemed higher than they had been over the last few days.

By 2.00pm Thursday waves were reaching the top of the Fujairah beach but there was a surprising absence of people around to watch and work.

Gulshan (pictured) is from Pakistan and has lived on the Fujairah beach for several years, working as a caretaker of one of the homes near to the beach. He has spent a considerable amount of his last few days picking up debris and hosing the sand and salt spray, off the paths and house. By 2.00pm this afternoon it was another waiting game.

Images: Water approaching the top of the Fujairah Beach; Gulshan, waiting and hoping. Note the railing on the wall that was wrenched off by yesterday's waves.

Cyclone Gonu at Mid-Afternoon Thursday 7 June 2007

As the critical high tide was approaching at 2.00pm this afternoon, there was an air of nonchalance in Fujairah concerning Cyclone Gonu. The novelty of having a record breaking tropical cyclone visiting the UAE had worn off and it was a case of business as usual.

The stretch of road between the Fujairah medical Centre-Hikma Pharmacy and the Beach Motel that had been closed yesterday was open today. The police were obviously putting their trust in the high rocky wall.

The Fujairah Municipality, the Police, the Civil Defence staff and others involved in the Gonu operation, need to be congratulated for their work, especially for erecting the high wall that has protected many homes from flood damage. The work, however, is still not finished.

Earth movers were strengthening the barricades this afternoon probably for the last time with the news filtering through that the cyclone was departing and getting weaker.

The wall alongside the main Fujairah road;
Earth movers reinforcing beach walls.

Humour While Getting Ready for Cyclone Gonu

Have a read of this emergency check list before you discover how one Aussie teacher in Fujairah fared with Cyclone Gonu.

Higher College of Technology (HCT) staff member, Mike Cullinan, sent this helpful email to staff members of the two HCT Colleges in Fujairah about ways they could prepare their villas and apartments against Cyclone Gonu:

* In anticipation of a temporary loss of power, stock up with three days of basic staples such as bottled water, ice, flashlights with extra batteries and bulbs, candles/matches, portable radio, non-perishable food and containers, non-electric can opener extra baby/infant needs/diapers, essential medicines.

* Maintain mobile phones on full charge and ensure that you have a copy of the staff telephone list.

* Make sure vehicles have a full tank of petrol and park away from large trees. In the event of flooding do not drive through water unless your journey is absolutely necessary. Water on roadways can be deeper than it looks and could cause your vehicle to stall. Do not attempt to drive through water if you are unsure of its depth, especially if it is flowing rapidly, such as at a flooded culvert/wadi approach--as little as 12 in/30 cm of running water can wash away most vehicles.

* Cash machines may be down for a while so make sure you have cash.

* Fill extra containers with water for washing/toilets. Filling the bathtub with water before the storm hits is an old trick to ensure a water supply.

* In the event of high winds, draw blinds/curtains. Stay away from windows and doors. If the wind does not break through the glass, flying debris just might. The best place to stay in your home is inside an interior room or closet with as many walls put between you and the storm.

* Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly

* Make sure that family members know how to respond during an emergency. Show them how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water

* If you are in a villa, bring in pets, hanging plants, gas grills, lawn furniture and any other items that may become airborne during high winds. Trim back dead branches from trees. Be prepared to move to higher ground or a higher floor in the event of flooding.

* Once the storm is gone, continue to exercise caution in moving about. Hazards such as downed power lines, rising water, and unstable trees or buildings may remain.

Hopefully none of this will be necessary but it never hurts to be prepared!

Christine Baldwin is a teacher at the HCT Women’s College in Fujairah. She comes from Australia and has spent some time teaching in Oman. This morning she wrote to Mike with this email:

Dear Mike,

I filled the bathtub with water and I hopped in my closet with my candles and mobile phone. When I lit the candles my clothes set alight, but luckily I had my bottle of water to put it out.

Then I had to get out of the closet cos there was too much smoke, and I jumped in, the now cold bathtub. I now have a cold.

I opened a window to let out the smoke and a very frightened pigeon flew in. The effects of his recent meal at the Taj Mahal Indian restaurant were deposited on my bedspread.

Exasperated, I went to get a diet pepsi out of the fridge, but it was frozen cos I had turned the fridge up.

Decided to get a takeaway, but my mobile phone and cash were submerged on that fateful bedspread……

Thanks for the storm advice


Image: Emergency list but Mike’s list is far superior and should be bookmarked.

Sandbagging Against Cyclone Gonu

These three men were responsible for sandbagging the gates of Mr Abdul’s Fujairah beach residence (see earlier pictures).

They have been successful, thus far, as no water has seeped under the gates and into the property or home.

These men work for Mr Abdul’s company.

The smile of the man on the left seems to indicate that they are up for a pay rise!

Geoff Pound

Cyclone Gonu: Water, Water Everywhere!

Water pumps were used last night to get rid of low lying water.

This beach residence is still surrounded by water that has nowhere to escape.

Hopefully, the high Fujairah temperatures might do the trick.

Geoff Pound

Fujairah Beach Fortressed Against Cyclone Gonu

Workers with earth moving equipment and truckies transporting rocks worked through the night to erect and reinforce the barricades.

The high rock walls (pictured) drawn from the nearby Hajar Mountains, have thus far saved homes from significant storm damage.

Geoff Pound

Cyclone Gonu: A Peek Behind the Fujairah Fence

This morning at 8.00am Thursday 7 June 2007, there was a distinct feeling around Fujairah of ‘the morning after the night before’!

Things were extremely quiet. Most people living on the coast line were probably asleep, recuperating from the physical and mental strain of preparing for the attack of Gonu.

The road had been reopened for traffic in both directions along the coast.

At 8.00am the skies were gray, the temperature was into the thirties and the little rain that had fallen from 6.00am had ceased and evaporated.

The cyclone had been expected to have had its greatest impact in the early hours of this morning when the tide was high.

Eye witnesses said the winds were “as weak as a pot of English tea.” The waves had been kept back by the rock reinforcements. There was little damaged reported.

Cyclone Gonu versus Fujairah Round Two was clearly a win for the coastal city that was up against a severely weakened opponent.

Residents are talking as if the fight with Gonu is not yet over. Round three will be mid-afternoon today when there could be large waves combining with the high tide.

Geoff Pound

Image: The rocky wall that was constructed last night along the Fujairah road proved to be mightily effective. Beach car park and picnic area are in the background behind the wall.

Cyclone Gonu: Report from Fujairah 1.00am Thursday 7 June 2007

I have just walked to the Fujairah beach to check on the progress.

It feels a beautiful night. The temperature is in the early twenties. There is just a slight breeze.

There are still lots of spectators walking along the main road, some with little children in the middle of the night!

There are many trucks delivering rocks to create a four to six high rock wall along the road to keep the waters back. This is becoming a very long barrier.

I spoke to one man from Damascus, Syria, who has lived in the UAE for 28 years. He remembers a major storm hitting Fujairah in about 1994 but it was not as big as Cyclone Gonu is expected to be.

The workers and officials are anticipating that at 2.00am (one more hour), that the cyclone will be making its presence felt with high winds and rain.

Thanks to all those that have sent emails of greeting and care. They have come from amazing places like NZ, Oz and just in the last hour from a man in Tunisia, who used to teach English in Fujairah. He is able to locate all the Fujairah pictures on this site!


Geoff Pound

Image: The emerging wall along the main road in Fujairah. You’ve heard about the Berlin wall, the Iron Curtain, the Bamboo Curtain, the Palestinian wall, the Velvet Curtain? Now there’s the Fujairah Fence.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Earth Movers Bolstering Barricades Against Cyclone Gonu

At 6.00pm Wednesday 6 June 2007 a triad of large earth movers was shifting rocks that were being deposited by a long line of trucks on the side of the main road .

Work is going on to strengthen the barriers against the rising tides, especially in the next 48 hours.

Geoff Pound

Image: An earth mover working to strengthen barriers around the property of Fujairah’s Hilton Hotel and the Fez bar and restaurant.

Cyclone Gonu Making Work for Fujairah Police

The police have been hard at work directing traffic and curious spectators around Fujairah and along the east coast.

They drove down on the Fujairah beach this afternoon asking all people (there was only a handful) to leave the beach for their own safety.

The Fujairah beach is officially closed.

At the time when the police appeared on the beach the tide was a long way out. However, a few minutes after their siren and pronouncement a freak wave came hurtling up to the top of the beach with great speed and force, providing an apt illustration for their speech and the reasons for the closure.

Geoff Pound

Why Call it Cyclone Gonu?

Here is a triad of questions for Trivia Night with the answers down below:

1. Where did the name ‘Gonu’ come from?

2. What language is the word ‘Gonu’?

3. What does ‘Gonu’ mean?

1. It is a name contributed by the Maldives, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, where Gonu originated.

2. ‘Gonu’ is from Dhivehi, the Maldivian language.

3. ‘Gonu’ is the name given to a bag made from palm leaves, as you do in the Maldives.

Geoff Pound

Image: Map of the Maldives

Source: Wikipedia

Cyclone Gonu Doing Damage in Back Yard

It was 6.00pm on Wednesday 6 June when this photo was taken.

The tide was going out, the waves were high for Fujairah, the skies were gray and the atmosphere was full of sea spray.

These fence railings were wrenched off by the waves and scattered amidst the water, sand and other rubbish from the beach.

Geoff Pound

Cyclone Gonu: Flooding Fujairah Beach Properties

Look at the flooding in these beach properties at 6.00pm Wednesday 6 June 2007.

The tide was going out but these properties are below the level of the beach and therefore, this is a big challenge, getting rid of the H2O and the sand.

Thankfully, some Indian men were on hand to dig some drains.

The tide was a long way out but when these men had their backs turned, a freak wave came hurtling up the beach and caught them by surprise.

Cyclone Gonu: Another Record for the UAE?

Cyclone Gonu is the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Arabian Sea.

It is packing a punch in Oman; we are yet to see how strong it will be when it has fully arrived in UAE waters.

But as the United Arab Emirates is into collecting world records, we may as well chalk this one up and remember this fact for the next Trivia Night competition.

By the way, if the question is asked, ‘What is a tropical cyclone?’ the Wikipedia answer is: ‘A meteorological term for a storm system, characterized by a low pressure centre with thunderstorms producing strong wind and flooding rain. Check out Wikipedia for a longer answer.

Geoff Pound

Image: Cyclone Gonu image, thanks to NASA, taken on 4 June 2007.

Two Elderly Emiratis Waiting for Cyclone Gonu

Look at these two old timers.

It looks like they are behind prison bars.

They are standing in front of the fence that borders the property belonging to one of them. This property is almost full of water and debris. The crashing waves of the sea churned up by Cyclone Gonu are in the background.

What do you think these two guys are saying to each other?

Post your answer as a comment.


Image: ‘Have you heard the one about…?’

Cyclone Gonu Versus the UAE: Round One

At 6.00pm tonight, Wednesday 6 June 2007, the tide was receding, which gave some necessary respite to residents of Fujairah and the UAE’s eastern coast.

By this evening it seemed that Round One was over and Fujairah had come off with little damage. Even at this stage, the reports coming in from the Met Office was that Gonu was weakening but was getting closer to making an impact on the UAE.

One of the jobs to be done before the tide comes in again is pumping out as much water from properties as possible.

Round Two commences at approximately midnight tonight (in just over two and a half hours).

Geoff Pound

Image: A team with the water pump equipment, 50 metres from the Fujairah Beach.

Cyclone Gonu at Mid-Afternoon in Fujairah, UAE

By early afternoon the tide was high, covering the beaches completely and the waves were noticeably higher than at midday.

At 3.30pm it seemed a switch had been turned and spectators and residents were starting to feel the strength of the wind being driven by Cyclone Gonu. It quickly developed to the strength that would blow off your hat or head scarf.

Many businesses and shops closed this afternoon to enable workers to return home and batten down the hatches.

Colleges and schools were making noises about closing for Thursday.

Emails have been circulating around the UAE networks containing Emergency Do Lists.

Geoff Pound

Image: Evidence of railings torn off, water gushing onto the back lawn and waves increasing in height and strength in the background.

Cyclone Gonu: Causing Damage to Fujairah Properties

Some of the Fujairah owners of beach residences are reporting water in their homes.

One home had a railing hurled by the waves through the glass windows that overlook the sea.

Geoff Pound

Cyclone Gonu: Water Advances Around Fujairah Beach Residences

Some of the beach side homes appeared as islands, completely surrounded by water.

Geoff Pound

Cyclone Gonu Floods Fujairah Properties: 3pm Wednesday 6 June 2007

By 3pm Wednesday 6 June 2007, many of the Fujairah beach residences had water emerging at the front gate with their properties filling with sand, water and debris.

In this picture of water in a couple of backyards, the sea is to the right.

Geoff Pound

Cyclone Gonu: A Matter of Waiting and Hoping

Here are some Fujairah beach residents watching the water entering their properties adjacent to the sea and hoping.

Wednesday 6 June 2007 3.00pm

Geoff Pound

Cyclone Gonu Closes Roads in UAE: 3pm Wednesday 6 June 2007

By 3pm Wednesday 6 June 2007, the waves were coming onto the road and the Fujairah police have now closed off the north bound lane of the road from the Fujairah Medical Centre-Hikma Pharmacy, probably until the Beach Motel.

Geoff Pound

Images: Water and debris on the north bound lane to Khor Fakkan;

Police and helpers in the process of closing the road.

High Waves Appearing on Fujairah Beach

At 1.00pm Wednesday 6 June 2007 the tide was surging powerfully onto the Fujairah beach.

The waves were much higher than at seven this morning.

The established breakwaters are being breached in places as well as the first row of the beach barricades that were constructed yesterday.

Residents from homes on the beach were standing on the balconies willing the cyclone to alter its course.

It feels like the wind is starting to get up.

Geoff Pound

Images: Waves getting higher; Breakwaters beginning to be breached.

Cyclone Gonu Approaching the UAE

At 12.40pm on Wednesday 6 June 2007 the mosques were sending forth the midday call to prayer but there were few of the devout to be seen.

The skin pores were signaling that it was 40+ degrees, the breeze was light and it was starting to become overcast.

The submerged car park that was yesterday looking like an ice ring was rippling with waves. The water was within twenty feet of the main road and huge channels were pouring through pipes underneath the road and quickly filling up areas designed for storm water.

Geoff Pound
Images: Storm water Drains filling up fast; Fujairah Beach car park

Beautiful Morning in Fujairah but Anticipating High Winds and High Tides

Fujairah residents awoke this morning (Wednesday 6 June 2007) to a beautiful sunny day, generally clear skies and a light breeze.

UAE authorities said Cyclone Gonu was moving along the coast of Oman last night (Tuesday 5 June 2007) and weather experts said the storm appeared to be weakening and moving north through a major shipping channel towards Iran.

Tropical cyclone Gonu is expected to enter parts of the UAE on Wednesday 6 June 2007, generating thunderstorms, heavy rain, and high winds almost all over the country. The conditions are expected to remain for at least three days.

Winds were hitting the Omani coast at 8.00am Wednesday at a speed of 148kph. They are expected to gust at 100 kilometres per hour when the cyclone enters the UAE, said a senior meteorologist at the UAE Met Department.

The CNN reported this morning that Cyclone Gonu will weaken rapidly (down to 63kph) and continue to lose its intensity in the next 48 hours as it interacts with the land. It was not expected that the eye of the storm would reach landfall.

UAE residents were being told not to panic.

A meteorologist said that people should be alert particularly in Fujairah and hilly areas as a threat of flash floods cannot be ruled out.

The high winds and high tides expected this afternoon will be the critical period, especially for homes and buildings near the beaches.

Geoff Pound

Image: Waves are not high at the moment but appear as a liquid escalator as they descend into the beach.

Barricades on the Fujairah Beach on Wednesday

These are photos taken at 8.00am on Wednesday 6 June 2007.

Earth moving equipment worked overnight to reinforce the barriers with truck loads of rocks in advance of the anticipated high waves and high tides this afternoon as Cyclone Gonu moves north.

Geoff Pound

Images: Double rows of rocky barriers with car park in the background and sunny skies; the beach house residence behind the barricades.