x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Fujairah’s boat parade makes a splash on National Day

A National Day boat parade in Fujairah proves a draw for Emirati and expatriate families alike.

A woman on jet ski at a boat parade in Fujairah. Jaime Puebla / The National
A woman on jet ski at a boat parade in Fujairah. Jaime Puebla / The National

FUJAIRAH // National Day took on a distinctly maritime flavour for Emirati and expatriate families in Fujairah.

The emirate’s International Marine Sports Club organised a parade featuring 14 vessels, from a traditional wooden dhow to a 40-metre yacht and smaller speedboats.

Ahmed Alblooshi, managing director of the club, which has organised the parade for five years, said the event was good way to highlight the UAE’s seafaring heritage.

The club also held a fishing competition over the weekend.

“Everyone shows their happiness in their own way,” said Mr Alblooshi, 58.

Born at a time when official records did not exist, Mr Alblooshi has adopted 2 December as his birthday.

“This is the real birthday for a UAE national,” he said. “This for us means a lot. It is like a dream for us.”

Mr Alblooshi said he remembered very well the time before 1971, the year of Federation, when Fujairah consisted only of an old fort and about 20 houses.

When the late President Sheikh Zayed gave 30 houses to the emirate to mark his accession as Ruler, they “accommodated all Fujairah residents”, he joked.

Other things have also changed, Mr Alblooshi said.

“Fujairah is growing, not as fast as Dubai and Abu Dhabi but compared to what it was before there is a big difference,” he said.

“It used to take a whole day to reach Dubai. Now it takes one hour.”

The procession, which left the marine club at 3pm, was accompanied by a couple of coastguard boats and a firefighting barge.

The boats sailed in single file for Fujairah Seaport before returning to a new breakwater by the marine club, sounding horns to greet spectators ashore. Five people on jetskis followed.

For Fatma Al Khaldy, who was boarding the traditional dhow with 13 female relatives, the reason for joining the parade was simple.

“I am here to celebrate with my country,” said Fatma, 21.

One of her cousins, Houda Al Kaabi, 27, who was taking part in the event for the second time, had another good reason: “We like it.”

Expatriates also joined the fun, among them Suzette Santos, 40, who works at Fujairah Seaport and had invited three of her Filipino compatriots to join in.

“We are so excited,” Suzette said.

The mood was festive as the boats came back to dock just before sunset.

“I liked it a lot,” said Erika Spanner, 55, a German owner of a beauty salon. “It was great. I’ve only been here since January.”

vtodorova@thenational.ae