mountains in Fujairah

A trip to Al Bidyah Mosque, oldest mosque in the UAE

mountains in Fujairah

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 bidiyah mosque poster

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.

Al Bidiyah Mosque

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.

abaya in mosque

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.

inside al bidyah mosque benjamin

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.

inside mosque

al bidiya 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.

Al Bidya Mosque Fujairah

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.

Fujairah mosque fort

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?

fort 2

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.

p and b to the fort 1

“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.

at fort looking out

fort 1

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.

at the fort

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!

coast of Fujairah

Touring Fujairah: Day 1, from the sea

coast of Fujairah

The color of the water off Fujairah is different. And it makes sense. The coast of Fujairah, unlike the other Emirates is in the Gulf of Oman (the others are in Arabian Gulf).

After a restful night at Novotel Fujairah Hotel, our wonderful budget and family friendly accommodation in Fujairah, we woke up early for breakfast and headed to the Fujairah International Marine Club. Though lately it has become a bit warm in desert land, the weather is still very nice to spend time outdoors and today, we will be doing something different: explore the coast of Fujairah by boat!

The children were ecstatic!


Photo credit: Fujairah in Focus

The Fujairah International Marine Club is a non profit organization that was established in 1999 to host and organize some of the world’s best maritime sports such as the Class One, The Formula One, Formula 2, and X-Cat World Powerboat Series. It also organizes national and local events such as UAE Jet Ski Championship, rowing races, and fishing competitions.

The first race for the 2015 X-Cat World Powerboat Series will be held at the Fujairah Internatioanal Marine Club on 25-27 February 2015.

Fujairah International Marine Club

There is a Biker’s Cafe at the Marine Club which serves light snacks and refreshments. Other dining outlets include licensed Harbour Club and a Chinese restaurant.

bikers cafe

The Harbour Club is a trendy, relaxed bar restaurant, offering five star international cuisine and an extensive range of beverages. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available, with a shisha terrace and outdoor bar overlooking the marina. There’s also the  Zhonghua Huiguan restaurant serving authentic Chinese and International dishes. The dining facilities are open to all, not just members of the marine club.

The Harbour Club

We did not get to try any of the dining outlets so I can’t say anything about the food or service but would love to try them out once we’re back to Fujairah, soon.

It was time to head out to sea. The weather was perfect, not too cold and very moderate wind. I’ve always loved sailing but never get to do it as often as I like. There’s something about the sea and the quote: “The cure to everything is salt water: tears, sweat and the sea” is so true. Just being near the sea, looking at it and smelling the salt water air is very therapeutic, at least for me.

salt water therapy

The other members of the family loved the experience too, except for the littlest one who became very quiet. He is usually very bubbly and tend to move around, now he is stuck in his father’s lap!

in boat

We move away from the coast and here we see the some buildings in the city and the Hajjar mountains in the background. Living in Dubai does funny things to you – you’d be actually happy to see mounds of earth!

fujairah from a distance

Fujairah trip

Fujairah port and Khor Fakkan port are nearby so there were many ships stopped in the middle of the sea. So, so big ships!

big ship in coast of Fujairah

We got closer.

big ship in coast of Fujairah

And closer.

big ship in coast of Fujairah

Then we turned around to see another ship alongside this big one.

big ship in coast of Fujairah

I’ve been asked by the little humans, “how do these things float, mama?” These boats have tons of weight and they float. WHY? I cannot tell them to Google that time so I used big words like law of bouyancy, etc. They looked at me like I’m crazy. They’re not convinced with my answers.


These boats can accommodate people for fishing trips as well, in fact, there are fishing rods in it. Pristine was waiting for any fish to bite the bait but unfortunately, the fishes were on a weekend break, maybe went on a trip to Dubai. LOL.

fujairah from a distance 2

family on board 2

family on board

A trip to Fujairah is worth it because it gives you one of the most scenic natural environment in the UAE.The Hajjar mountains and the Gulf of Oman make for a wonderful combination and offer plenty of year-round options for recreational activities.

pristine in boat

The Fujairah International Marine Club organizes to hire a small boat for the family or a traditional dhow for a group of friends.There are plenty of activities for families; a nice relaxing trip on the dhow, take a fishing or diving trip on one of our boats or enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants inside the club.

We loved our day trip out to sea in Fujairah. It’s so easy to say, this won’t ever be the last.

Novotel Hotel Fujairah

Where we stayed: Novotel Hotel Fujairah

Novotel Hotel Fujairah

We spent a lovely two days at Fujairah over the weekend to relax and unwind from the busy and hectic (and sometimes exhausting) life in Dubai. Fujairah is the only emirate among the seven emirates of the UAE that do not lie in the Arabian Gulf. Its coast line is at the Gulf of Oman. The last time we visited Fujairah was already five long years ago so this trip was long overdue.

There are so many hotels in Fujairah, from beach hotels to city hotels. We stayed for two nights at Novotel Hotel Fujairah. And here’s my review of this hotel.

Novotel Hotel Fujairah is located at Hamad Bin Abdullah Road, Fujairah, very close to the city center, just off the new E84 road.

We heard of this new road linking Dubai to Fujairah that promises shorter time and smoother travel. The last time we’ve been to Fujairah, all I remember was long travel and a pretty dangerous one because there’s a highway strip that has no barrier in the center – it can be scary if only a thin white line separates opposite traffic.

Now with the new E84 road known as Sheikh Khalifah Bin Zayed Road, it only took us an hour and 15 minutes from our house in Al Qusais to the hotel. The new road linking Dubai to Fujairah has motorists living the dream. Imagine there are people commuting from Dubai to Fujairah on a daily basis because of this road!

It’s impossible to miss Novotel Fujairah when you enter the city center of the Emirate. It’s that tall building with neon blue lights (if you’re arriving at night).

Being a new hotel (just a year old!), I am impressed by the warm and welcoming service we received from the time we got off our car when we arrived until the moment we left. The staff at the hotel and the restaurants were attentive to our needs and always went out of their way to serve us and the other customers in the best way they can.

The staff were so sweet to remember our names too, including the children! I know they instantly felt like superstars on the time we checked out.

I must admit, when I hear Novotel or Ibis (of the Accor group of hotels), I used to think – ah, business hotel. I seriously thought we would be the only family staying there and Benjamin could disturb the tired business men sleeping in the rooms (Benjamin has a habit of singing loudly in the hallways!). However, when we arrived, we were surprised with the number of families with children staying in the hotel, too!

We stayed in a suite room because it is caters more to our family size. And yep, we loved the space!

suite room bedroom

The suite room was perfect for us (2 adults and 2 children) as it had a separate receiving room and bedroom, that meant more space to move around. The hotel also provided an extra bed for our 11 year old daughter and even then, the room did not feel cramped. Also, I must mention that the bed was so nice and comfortable (which honestly I did not expect).

This is when you first enter the hotel room.

Novotel Fujairah suite room

I can’t get a proper shot without a little human getting in the way. There is a mini bar and a small receiving area with sofa.

The room had the basic amenities; the suite room had a separate shower and bathtub which we really like, especially with a toddler who loves to take long baths in the tub. One of my favorite amenities is the WiFi (is WiFi called an amenity? It is now.). All the rooms have fast and free wireless internet (YAY!) which makes it easier for guests on business or pleasure to what they needed to do. Mine would be to update my social media platforms of what we’ve been up to!

If you have not brought your laptop and need to work on something with a bigger screen than your smart phone, you can always go to the lobby.

Hotel Novotel Fujairah

Another thing to be happy about when staying as a family was the pool. Another unexpected treat – it was big! There were many children in the pool even if the weather was a bit chilly when we got there. The water is temperature controlled but the wind was strong during our stay so we didn’t get to swim at all. Hopefully, next time, we can!

Novotel Hotel Fujairah pool

Breakfast is served at Flavours restaurant, the all dining restaurant at the ground floor. Ample selection, we couldn’t complain of anything. Thursday night dinner was at Il Centro at adjacent Ibis Hotel for Mexican night. Staple Mexican food (guacamole however was missing). Live cooking station also available.

Friday night was Indian night at Flavours when the restaurant turns to a bustling place of Indian food lovers. The scent of the spices will let you know Indian night is full on and it’s time to forget about diet.

Indian nights

There are lots of Indian food available on the buffet but I just chose a few for my first plate.

indian food

My favorite Indian sweets on parade: kaju katli, burfi, etc.

indian sweets

Friday was international brunch at Il Centro with DJ spinning some good music. Live cooking station also available.

il centro

We loved the food at Il Centro and wish it was closer. It’s definitely cheaper in Fujairah (or should I say, the prices in Dubai is just too inflated!). If you’re driving to Fujairah and get hungry, a stop over at Il Centro is worth the time and money.

Overall we had a very good stay. We had a very peaceful short family getaway away from the big city. The kids thoroughly loved the space of the suite room (highly recommended for families) and because this is not Dubai, you don’t have to be intimidated by the word “suite”. The location is near to everything from supermarkets to pharmacies. The beach is near too. We visited the Fujairah International Marine Club which is a short drive from the hotel and explored the coast of Fujairah (more about it in the next post!).


We unexpectedly loved our stay in Fujairah and highly recommend to anyone looking to get away from the fast paced life of Dubai and would love a change of scenery. Novotel Hotel Fujairah comes with my high recommendation for being a budget and family friendly hotel that delivers – nice, clean rooms with a comfy bed and WiFi connection, great location and customer oriented service staff.

To learn more about Novotel Hotel Fujairah and their special offers, check out their main website as well as connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We were guests at Novotel Hotel Fujairah but all opinions are my own, as always. You can see more photos of our Fujairah trip on my Instagram (@sandierpastures) with hashtag #GraceInFujairah.