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

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The UAE through the Eyes and Cocktail Glasses of a Travel Writer

The travel section of today’s New York Times features an article on the not so well known emirates and is entitled, ‘Sheikdoms with Less Glitter can still Sparkle’.

The writer seeks to inform American readers that the UAE is more than Abu Dhabi and Dubai as he features holiday possibilities in the other emirates of Ras al Khaimah, Umm al Qaywayn, Ajman, Sharjah and Fujairah. This necessary emphasis is timely and to be commended.

The first paragraph on Sharjah is bound to get the average American tourist looking elsewhere—“the most conservative emirate… completely dry…no liquor… no smoking of sheeshas and strict dress codes for women.” (It does go on to mention some of Sharjah’s very good attractions but most readers will have skipped to the next emirate).

Ajman, with some qualifications, is likened to “a 1950s California beach town and has the reputation for being “the wildest emirate with its nickname being ‘Arabian boozer.’” I wonder how many Americans will be attracted by this tourist hook?

Fujairah is presented as “a relaxed, idyllic alternative to the hustle and bustle” of the western coast, with “rich, natural splendor.” Highlighted in the article are the Hajar Mountains and the hotels on the al-Aqah beach with their excursions to the Musandam Peninsula.

You will need to read the whole article to be the judge but I think it is disappointing to read the descriptions of this country by travel writers who seem to have hopped from one international hotel to another, jotting down notes by the side of the pool.

The challenge for those in the travel business in the UAE is to be able to highlight the Emirati cultural attractions (even in the smaller states) that people cannot experience in other places, whether they be things that educate the mind, relax the body or challenge one’s cultural convictions.

To read the whole story, check out this link:
Austin Considine, ‘Sheikdoms with less glitter can still Sparkle’, New York Times, 14 October 2007.

Image: Some glimpses of UAE’s east coast.