Fujairah, dominated by the Sharqiyin tribe, sits at the mouth of the important trade route, the Wadi Ham (which is guarded by the Sharqiyin fort at Bithnah), through the mountains to the interior and the Persian Gulf Coast. Known as the Shamaliyah, the east coast of what is now the UAE was subject to Muscat until 1850, when it was annexed by the Al Qasimi of Sharjah.
The Shamaliyah was governed by the Al Qasimi Wali at Kalba although frequently seceded and in 1901 Hamad bin Abdulla Al Sharqi, chief of the Sharqiyin, declared independence from Sharjah. This was recognised by a number of the Trucial Sheikhs and also by Muscat, but not the British, who were frequently provoked by the independently minded Ruler.
Since the absorption of Kalba by Sharjah in 1952, the Shamaliyah is shared by the emirates of Fujairah and Sharjah.
In 1952, Fujairah entered into treaty relations with Britain, becoming the last of the emirates to join the Trucial States. On 2 December 1971, Fujairah joined the United Arab Emirates.
Fujairah is home to the oldest mosque in the United Arab Emirates which was built in 1446 of mud and bricks. It is similar to other mosques found in Yemen, eastern Oman, and Qatar. Al Bidyah Mosque has four domes (unlike the other similar mosques which have between seven and twelve) and lacks a minaret.
The emirate of Fujairah covers approximately 1,166 km2, or about 1.5% of the area of the UAE, and is the fifth-largest emirate in the UAE. Its population is around 152,000 inhabitants (in 2009); only the Emirate of Umm al-Quwain has fewer occupants.
Fujairah is the only emirate of the UAE that is almost completely mountainous. All the other emirates, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are located on the west coast, and are largely covered by deserts. Consequently, Fujairah boasts a higher than average yearly rainfall of the UAE, allowing farmers in the region to produce one crop every year. The emirate has a cove, Ad Dayt.
The weather is seasonal, although it is warm most of the year. The months of December to March are generally the coolest, with daytime temperatures averaging around 25 °C (77 °F) and rarely venturing above 30 °C (86 °F)—with temperatures climbing to over 40 °C (104 °F) degrees in the summer. The winter period also coincides with the rainy season and although by no means guaranteed, this is when Fujairah experiences the bulk of its precipitation. Rainfall is higher than the rest of the UAE, partly because of the effect of the mountains that encircle the Emirate, and partly because the prevailing winds are easterly bringing with them water-laden clouds off the warm Indian Ocean.
The variability of the east coast climate is partly due to the presence of the Hajjar mountain range. As with other mountainous areas, precipitation is higher, and this allows for a more varied micro-environment in the area. Tourist visitor numbers peak just before the school summer months.
Fujairah had a population of 125,698 at the last census, held in 2005. The latest estimate of population is 152,000.
Power is ultimately held by the ruler of Fujairah, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, who has been in power since the death of his father in 1974. The Sheikh supposedly makes money himself through his own business, and the government funds are used for social housing development and beautifying the city, although there is little distinction between the state and his personal wealth. The ruler can make any decisions regarding any aspect of law, although federal laws take precedence.
The Sheikh and his immediate family heads the cabinet of Fujairah, and a few members of respected local families make up the advisory committees. The Sheikh must ratify any decisions by the cabinet. After the ratification, such decisions may be enacted into law as Emiri decrees, which are usually effective immediately.
Fujairah's economy is based on subsidies and federal government grants distributed by the government of Abu Dhabi (the seat of power in the UAE). Local industries consist of cement, stone crushing and mining. A resurgence in the construction activity helped the local industry. There is a flourishing free trade zone, mimicking the success of the Dubai Free Zone Authority which was established around Jebel Ali Port.
The federal government employs the majority of the native, local workforce, with few opening businesses of their own. Many of the locals work in the service sector. The Fujairah government prohibits foreigners from owning more than 49% of any business. The free zones have flourished, partly due to the relaxation of such prohibition within the zones, as full foreign ownership is allowed there. Shaikh Saleh Al Sharqi, younger brother to the ruler, is widely recognized as the driving force behind the commercialization of the economy.
Fujairah is a minor bunkering port with large scale shipping operations taking place every day. Shipping and ship related services are thriving businesses of the city. Due to the business friendly environment and ease of logistic support, ships trading from Persian Gulf anchor here for provisions, bunkers, repair and technical support, spares and stores before proceeding on long voyages. The city is also geographically well suited for such ship service related activities.
Government of Fujairah is a major shareholder in National Bank of Fujairah, an UAE local bank. Incorporated in 1982, the National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) has a long established reputation for excellence in the areas of corporate and commercial banking, trade finance and treasury. NBF has also expanded portfolio to include a comprehensive suite of personal banking options and Shariah-compliant services. NBF's commitment to the economic development of the UAE and home emirate of Fujairah is evident through its support of industries ranging from oil and shipping to services, manufacturing, construction, education and healthcare. With solid track record, strong cultural heritage, deep market insight and unwavering focus on service and innovation, NBF seeks to develop lasting relationships with its customers, and help them leverage growth opportunities in the ever-changing marketplace.
Foreigners or visitors are not allowed to buy land. Emirati nationals can purchase land from the government, after proving their nationality. If there is no suitable land available via the official government offices, private purchases can also be made, with the eventual price being determined by the market and the individuals themselves.
The ruler is planning to make changes that will affect Fujairah. Among tourism projects is an $817m resort, Al-Fujairah Paradise, near Dibba Al-Fujairah, on the northern Omani border, next to Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort. There will be around 1,000 five-star villas as well as hotels, and it is expected that all the construction work will be finished within two years.
The Sheikh is trying to improve opportunities for the local workforce, by trying to entice businesses to locate in Fujairah and diverting Federal funds to local companies in the form of development projects.
The Habshan–Fujairah oil pipeline was opened in 2012.
Health care is delivered in a mixed public and private system. Locals are treated for free at the federal government hospitals, while foreigners have to pay for medical care. The national government funds the federal hospitals and subsidize health care with petrodollar revenues. There are criticisms that the government is not providing health care sufficiently for those with low income, who have to pay for critical treatment themselves.
The Fujairah government has built clinics, known locally as "medical houses", such as Madena Medical House in Madab, and Moresheed Medical House in Moresheed. These clinics complement and help lighten the load on the main Fujairah Hospital by allowing walk-in appointments and providing ancillary medical services. These clinics have turned out to be a success, visited by the local populace.
Thumbay Hospital, previously known as GMC Hospital, is one of the private health care providers in Fujairah. It contains an emergency department, operating theater, pharmacy and outpatients clinics. It is located near the Ahli Club.
There are many government schools in Fujairah, which are mainly for Emirati people, beside some numbers of Arab residents. Aside from government schools, there are also private schools, and due to the majority of the population of the Emirate hailing from the Indian subcontinent, most of the private schools follow the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus, accredited by the Central Education Board of India.
Fujairah Montessori Nursery is the oldest pre-school in Fujairah. It admits children from the age of two years. It is located at Al Faseel area.
There are several Nursery and KG schools in Fujairah. 'Superbaby' in Al Faseel 'Smartkids', 'Mom and Kids' and 'Little Stars' are very popular with expat children.
Travel in and around Fujairah and the surrounding towns of Khor Fakkan, Kalba and Masafi has been made easy by the development of modern highways since independence in 1971. Highways are funded by the federal government directly, and contracts are tendered centrally. This is meant to safeguard the quality and delivery of the contracts and prevent corruption from damaging the construction.
Fujairah has a very limited public transport, with a single bus service operating within the emirate and a service operating to Dubai. Aside from private transport, there are a number of taxis operated by the government-owned Fujairah Transport Corporation (FTC.
The new Sheikh Khalifa highway linking Dubai and Fujairah was officially inaugurated on Saturday, December 4, 2011, following delays to the originally scheduled opening date of July 2011. It is a road that shortens distance by 20 to 30 km. The Fujairah International Airport is near the city, with a large falcon statue at the airport roundabout. However, currently it only offers commercial service to Abu Dhabi, a domestic destination within the UAE.
LuLu Mall Fujairah opened in 2014. Fujairah City Centre opened in April 2012 with 105 units along with Century Mall near the Fujairah Ports. The construction of the Fujairah mall has also been completed in 2016. Fathima Shopping Center in Fujairah is another favorite affordable shopping destination.
The new Sheikh Khalifa highway linking Dubai and Fujairah was officially inaugurated on Saturday, 3 December 2011 in the presence of Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The new opening date was timed to be in conjunction with the 40th occasion of the UAE’s National Day. The 45-kilometre-long (28 mi) highway will cut the driving time between Dubai and Fujairah to 30 minutes from the current 90, developers claim.
"The road begins from the entrance of Fujairah City, crossing Al Gazirmi locality, Wadi Sahm, Asfeeni, Mamdooh, Kadra and Shawka Valleys in Ras Al Khaimah, and ends at Maleeha Road in Sharjah, namely at Hamda area," Dr Abdullah Be Hanif Al Nuaimi, undersecretary of the Public Works Ministry.
The $436m highway is part of the UAE’s $1.6bn plan for increased infrastructure investment in the Northern Emirates. This investment includes the building of electricity and water networks in the UAE’s only Eastern Coast emirate.
The UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday's holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.
Drinking alcohol is allowed at designated hotels, and as of 2000, at a few bars. Until 1998, gambling in the form of slot machines was allowed in certain hotels, but personal petitions by locals to the Sheikh outlawed the activity. Some players were losing entire monthly wages on the slots, leaving nothing for the upkeep of their families.
Groups of (Emirati) youths tend to socialize together on the streets and cafés or outside games arcades, cinemas and mini malls. It is unusual to see mixed-sex groups as Emirati society is quite segregated.
On vacations, many Fujairah residents travel to western emirates such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, for entertainment and shopping purposes. They also visit the Wadis surrounding the emirate on camping and hiking trips. At the same time, other emirates' residents visit Fujairah for relaxation purposes and to get away from the stifling heat of the desert. Watersports are becoming more and more popular amongst both locals and tourists. Examples of watersports are jet skis, windsurfing, waterskiing and diving. Professional diving instructors can be found in Le Meridien or in Royal Beach Hotel, where one can even obtain an International Diving License, for a fee.