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Apr 28

The less traveled road in the Emirates: visiting Ajman, Fujairah and Sharjah.

 

As its name states the United Arabic Emirates is a federation of Emirates, located in the Middle East with part of its coast in the Oman gulf and part in the Persian Gulf. It has been in existence as a country for only around fifty years and life in this part of the world changed radically when expensive natural resources, particularly gas and oil were discovered. The revenues were invested wisely and it gave rise to famous city which are known around the world, like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. But when we talk of the UAE (as the locals call it) we are referring to a big country of much more than just two cities. It is true than these two cities are fantastic with amazing architecture and endless opportunities to explore, but on the other hand there are many other destinations worthwhile to visit in the country.

The United Arabic Emirates is a place that may seem far for many, others may even fear preconceived ideas or widespread false concepts about a place where they never have been to.

One of the many beautiful parks in Sharjah.

The reality is that the Emirates is an enjoyable destination, very safe, where people are normally very welcoming and friendly. Like any other country around the world, it is important to do ones homework, researching before the start of the trip about what is normal or what not to do. In this case we are entering a conservative society that values some things that for other societies are not priorities, they are really centered on family and religion is a very important part of their lives. Despite all this, the Emiratis are highly tolerant and as long you keep in mind a few things you will not even feel that you have to change anything about your lifestyle. Actually for most travelers a trip to the Emirates transforms from a trip of ones dreams to a lifetime experience.

To fully enjoy this country we strongly recommend not to get stuck in Dubai –certainly as I already said it is an amazing place- but it is really nice to go out and see the country in all that it has to offer. Probably the best way of doing this is by renting a car, it is very affordable, gasoline is cheap, the roads are excellent and free parking is widely available in all major places.

But where to go?

 

Fujairah

The Beautiful Rotana Resort in Fujairah.

This is the only Emirate that is completely located on the gulf of Oman. It has its very particular laws, for example foreigners cannot buy land here.  The whole territory is mountainous and it is the place where one can see more rain in the whole of the

Fujairah Fort.

Emirates, this situation allows for excellent farming opportunities and Fujairah is famous for its vegetables and fruits that are produced here. There is a small airport, but it does not receive passenger flights. Fujairah is very well connected with the whole country through an excellent system of highways. It takes only around two hours from Dubai and three from Abu Dhabi. There is not a lot to see in the downtown itself since it is more of a service and business center. The beauty of the Emirate is in its mountains and the sea. There has been a tremendous advance in development in the coastal area. Many hotels have been built along the waterway and there are many other new projects coming. Tourism is little bit behind in Fujairah than in the other Emirates, but this does not mean that there are not excellent opportunities to enjoy a wonderful beach vacation. Alcohol can be consumed in hotels and restaurants that hold a special license. The Hilton and The Meridian are two excellent beach resorts. In our case we choose the Fujairah Rotana resort and Spa, one of the newest hotels in Fujairah. This is really a fantastic hotel with excellent facilities, amazing views and carefully appointed rooms. Here anyone will enjoy the experience of a secluded retreat and excellent restaurants. These kinds of resorts are really the way to go in the Emirate of Fujairah.

 

Ajman

From Fujairah our trip took us to Ajman. This is the smallest of the Emirates. Real estate has been a strong force in the development of this Emirate and since it is such a small territory, the number of towers and development projects underway in the city grab ones attention as soon as one arrives. Still Ajman is a reminder of loss by many foreign investors who in the past several years lost a lot of money when many building projects

The beach at the Kempinski hotel Ajman.

never took off. Despite all those problems that came as a consequence of the financial crisis, Ajman is a fantastic destination. It can be used in some cases as a base to explore Dubai, with good traffic, it normally does not take more than half an hour to Dubai. It is important to keep in mind that during rush hour driving to Dubai can be a little more painful. Already for years the Kempinski has been the best hotel in Ajman. It is located in the Corniche area. Ajman has around 16 kilometers of white sandy beaches, probably the best spot on that coastline is in the Kempinski itself. Actually many people say that the Beach at that hotel is one of the best in the UAE.

Kempinski hotel Ajman.

The building itself looks somewhat old, but it is really nicely kept. They offer excellent restaurants (of course more pricey that the ones in the city or the Corniche). Alcohol is allowed in the Emirate of Ajman and there is even a store where foreigners can buy alcohol without any hassle. We had a wonderful beach day in Ajman and it came as an excellent escape from the bustle and noise of the city with an opportunity to enjoy such a beautiful sea with turquoise waters and white sandy beaches like the ones that always seem to grace magazine covers. There are other hotels in the almost complete in the area of the Corniche, the Fairmont hotel looks particularly nice and we are looking forward to go back and visit it when it will be ready. From the hotel area a walk along the Corniche is a lovely experience.

 

Sharjah

Khalid Lagoon in Sharjah.

This is the third largest Emirate. It has land that borders on both gulfs  -the Persian gulf and the gulf of Oman- It is located between Ajman and Dubai. It takes only ten minutes from Sharjah to Dubai international airport. Sharjah has as well an international airport with dozens of daily flights to all major international destinations. We reached Sharjah by driving from Ajman. We took the way of the Corniche and this is a really nice route, since it goes all the way along the beach. One can stop at one of the many cafes and enjoy a local meal and shisha. One of the more important facts to keep in mind is that Sharjah is a dry Emirate, so the consumption or even possession of alcohol is illegal, the best advice is to drink all your alcohol in Ajman before entering Sharjah   Sharjah is full of wonderful opportunities. It is one of the most cultural destinations in all the Emirates as it hosts some 18 museums, several souks that allow the visitor to experience unique places and to buy local souvenirs with excellent prices. There are many good hotels in Sharjah, the prices are normally cheaper that in neighboring Dubai and this is the reason why many people choose Sharjah as the base to explore Dubai. There are two great Holiday Inn hotels and we personally visited the Radisson Blu, a five star resort with a beautiful white sandy

View from the Radisson hotel in Sharjah.

beach and great restaurants. Sharjah is a very developed city, with several modern malls and many skyscrapers. At the same time the Heritage area with its markets, mosques and an impressive fortress offers an excellent opportunity to connect with the history, tradition and culture of this Emirate. One that since hundreds of years ago has been the richest city in this area, even before the oil boom of the other Emirates. An area that we especially loved is the Khalid lagoon. This is a beautiful section around a huge artificial lake with many parks full of flowers of all different colors, around the lake there are many impressive skyscrapers and a beautiful mosque. This is an excellent place to walk around and enjoy this impressive city, there are as well many good restaurants all around from Italian, American (Fridays) Lebanese and traditional cafés. We really think this is a must see spot in Sharjah and actually a must visit for anyone that comes to the Emirates.

 

It is worthy to go through the less traveled road

Descending from the highest peak in the UAE.

What it makes a traveler different from a tourist is that the tourist normally goes with the masses. The tourist visits the places always listed on the guides. The traveler takes risks, enjoys going beyond the multitudes to the places that are not the first call of tour operators. When visiting the Emirates it is nice at times to be a tourist and visit the traditional destinations, but in order to enjoy a truly rewarding experience, to be able to begin to understand this fascinating destination and to really be able to see all the beautiful places that this country has to offer, one should be a little bit more a traveler than a tourist and take the risk of going beyond the normal destinations, just to discover such beautiful spots that maybe one has never heard of before that will turn to become a lifetime experience.

This is the Editorial Board of The Joys of Traveling. We are passionate travel writers who seek to provide objective and accurate accounts of travel experiences by means of written articles, photos and videos.

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