When you live in Dubai, it’s easy to miss things as natural as rain or trees (other than date palm) or the sight of mountains. It was our second day in Fujairah and after exploring the coast by boat courtesy of Fujairah International Marine Club, we wanted to look around and show the kids some things they won’t see in Dubai (mountains!) and visit the Al Bidyah Mosque, (sometimes written as Al Bidiyah or Al Badiyah) reputed to be the oldest mosque in the country.
Novotel Hotel, the budget and family friendly hotel in Fujairah where we spent our short out of the city getaway offers tours to the city and nearby historic spots.
Our driver and guide picked us up after breakfast and we went straight to Al Bidyah Mosque. It was a longer ride from Fujairah city proper where Novotel is located but the sights along the way has something we do not see everyday. There were no bored souls inside the car.
Al Bidyah mosque is located 8 km north of Khor Fakkan in the mountainous coastal region of the emirate of Fujairah. The mosque is a charming earth-coloured structure of stone, mud brick and gypsum built between 1446 and 1668. The mosque is unique to the UAE but not the region. It was built about the same time as similar mosques in Yemen, Oman and Qatar.
I have been to this mosque before but that was way back in 2007 with my mother and if I remember, we weren’t allowed to go inside. Now, visitors can take a peek inside as it now functions mainly as a tourist attraction. Non-Muslims may enter if they are appropriately dressed and have taken off their shoes, but women must cover their heads.
Its structure has been kept true to its past. Apart from the welcome introduction of two air-conditioning units and four fluorescent lights, and some restoration work a decade ago, the mosque of mud and bricks remains much as it did in the mid-15th century.
Here, my 3 year old son is looking at a wall that existed centuries and centuries before him. It’s heartbreaking though to see all the vandalized walls on this old, small building near the mosque.
Locals says that they don’t know who built this mosque. There were no books or historical studies on who built it. There’s some sort of fort at the top of the hill behind the mosque. And there’s a pathway to it.
Way back in 2007 when we first visited, we did not have much time to explore around the area. Now that we didn’t have to rush back to Dubai and the weather was really great, we asked the kids if they wanted to go up.
I guess you know what they said next. The older one was too excited to show the place to her little brother as if she owns it, as if she has been there a hundred times. Those mountain silhouettes in the horizon, aren’t they beautiful?
The climb to the top wasn’t too much of a struggle but I guess for the little one, it was quite an effort. He loved it though and looked forward to reaching the top.
“Those mountains…where do they start and where do they end, mama?” I get overwhelmed by the questions Pristine asks during our travels because sometimes, the answers to those questions I can’t find in Google.
I am proud of my (little) young travellers. We’ve taken them everywhere we wanted to them to see and not once they complained or threw a tantrum (no jinx!). If at all, they are so eager to see more and always the reason why we need to linger more at a certain spot.
From the watch tower above the mosque you can view more of the magnificent scenery of the coast. If you’re thinking of doing something different on a weekend, you can drive to Fujairah from Dubai via the new road, stay a couple of nights at a city hotel (there are a lot of affordable hotel options!) and experience this piece of history and natural beauty in a country so focused on moving forward, with most buildings not older than cheese. Sorry for the mention of cheese, I am getting hungry.
Seriously, Fujairah is a must visit and you’d be more enticed to do so in my next post. We had a short stop at the beach on our way back to our hotel!