Fujairah is a sovereign state or emirate of the United Arab Emirates (the UAE); it has the second smallest population of any of the seven emirates - approximately 130,000 inhabitants. Fujairah is the only emirate with a seaport outside of the Persian Gulf; this port on the Arabian Sea is seen as a great strategic strong point for this emirate in the event of any naval or military action that may close the Straits of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
The geography of Fujairah is not what you would expect of one of the emirates of the UAE; it is rugged and mountainous with beautiful unspoilt beaches and numerous islands off the coast with coral reefs that attract divers from all over the world. This mountainous emirate has higher rainfall and lower average temperatures than the other emirates that are primarily desert, which makes it a prime tourist destination for both UAE nationals and overseas tourists.
Until 2002 freehold ownership of property in the UAE was limited to UAE and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) citizens; at this time the emirate of Dubai was the first of the emirates of the UAE to allow freehold property ownership to foreigners. Unlike several of the other emirates that followed Dubai’s lead and opened certain areas up to freehold foreign ownership, Fujairah has taken a more conservative approach and has concentrated on tourism and industrial development.
Fujairah is in the process of considering a law (similar to that of Dubai’s) to allow foreign freehold ownership of residential property. At the moment however the government of Fujairah has only allowed one development, the 43 story Al Jabar tower to be available for foreign freehold ownership. This tower, which is being developed by Al Jabel Contracting, will house showrooms, commercial shops and 270 residential apartments. The more traditional UAE custom of allowing foreigners to hold property under a 99-year lease is still the main option open to expats who wish to invest in the Fujairah residential property market.
Industrial development is booming in Fujairah, with the Fujairah Free Zone operating in a similar manner to free zones in the other emirates of the UAE, which allows the opportunity of fully foreign owned businesses. Recently a major announcement was made concerning the building of an oil pipeline from Abu Dhabi and a liquefied natural gas storage hub on the coast of Fujairah. The building of this strategic natural resources hub and storage centre on the Arabian Sea coast will require over two square kilometres of land to be reclaimed from the Arabian Sea.
The government’s main development focus, other than industrial development, is tourism. Plans are currently underway to triple the present 1500 properties available to tourists by 2012. Some of these new properties will be in the recently announced Al Fujairah Paradise resort; this resort will house hotels and an estimated 1000 five star villas. The resort is scheduled to be completed in the next two years. Several other tourist resorts and hotels are rumoured to be in the planning stages for this emirate, as national and international tourism is projected to continue its strong growth in this unique, unspoilt emirate.