Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Fujairah residents baffled by far-fetched 'port fire' reports

City's workers claim much of the international coverage of the attack appeared wildly inaccurate

When a Hezbollah-linked television channel first claimed Fujairah harbour was ablaze, the city's own residents knew something was amiss.

The hundreds of workers and fisherman who man the port each day could see nothing of the reported warplanes and raging fires cited by some media outlets.

Lebanon's Al Mayadeen channel used a graphic to illustrate an out of control blaze rapidly spreading through pockets of the terminal.

And meanwhile Russia's Sputnik news claimed witnesses had even seen American and French aircraft flying over the port at the time of the “incident”.

Today, what has become clear is that an attack by unknown actors was able to successfully target four ships off the coast of the Emirates.

But the extent of the assault appears to have been wildly misreported, with Fujairah’s own residents insisting it was business as usual.

“We all heard about the attack as it quickly spread online but life is going on as usual,” said a worker at a computer repair shop in Fujairah. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.”

On Monday, Saudi Arabia confirmed two of its oil tankers were among the vessels subjected to "sabotage attacks" off the UAE coast on Sunday.

Two other vessels understood to have been involved in the incident were registered to Norway and the Emirates.

News of the sabotage prompted widespread condemnation from Gulf countries who urged international partners to help guarantee maritime transport safety.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the attack was down to the country's stance on "supporting peace and security" and that investigations were ongoing.

"We have gained our great friendships by our transparency," he wrote on Twitter.

"The investigation is being processed professionally. Facts will be clear and we will have our own readings and evaluations."

Meanwhile, residents of Fujairah said they had every faith authorities would soon establish exactly what had happened.

“We trust our country’s military power so there’s no need to worry,” said Ahmad Rashid, a 45-year-old Emirati businessman.

“The children went to school as normal and nothing has affected our daily routine. I didn’t notice anything different and everyone is acting normal.”

Mahmoud Hassan, 43, an Emirati fisherman, also claimed no one had noticed anything out of the ordinary on Sunday.

“We all knew about the attack through social media but no one saw anything in the water,” he said.

“The weather is very windy today and it was also windy on Sunday so many people stayed at home and no one reported anything unusual.

“Fishermen don’t normally go fishing further than one or two nautical miles during Ramadan and that might also explain why no one saw anything.”

Updated: May 14, 2019 02:25 PM

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