Cruising east on the Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road as we make our way out of Dubai.
I had a few days of leave to use (or lose) by the end of 2019. With our new daughter still too young to fly I had booked a three night stay at the Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah on the east coast of the UAE.
Our drive today would first be the 118 kilometres from Dubai to the city of Fujairah. We would then take a brief diversion to Nahwa, a counter-enclave within the Omani territory of Madha, before ending the day's travel at the Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah in Dibba.
Stopping for a break at a service station in Maleha, Sharjah. It was Hannelie's first time leaving the Emirate of Dubai since she was born 3 months prior.
And making good time on the six-lane E84 highway through the mountains of Fujairah. Rianda's Mum was still visiting us with the new grandkid and was also coming along with us to Fujairah.
Just after midday we arrived at Fujairah Mall and where the mall Christmas tree was still under wraps.
Some coffee at Paul Café after we took a seat for lunch.
Fresh bread with butter and olive spread.
My chicken avocado sandwich with a side of fries.
And a bit of holiday indulgence with the ginger baked cheese cake for dessert.
Stopping to pick up a few snacks and supplies at the mall supermarket before getting back on the road again.
We then headed north for ~20 kilometres before making the turn off for Madha.
Madha is an exclave of Oman and from the map looks like a misshapen donut. In the center is Nahwa which is part of the Emirate of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
The interesting borders originated 70 years ago when the British surveyed the alllegiance of the different tribes to allow drafting of the divisions between the different emirates and also the UAE's external borders. The people of Madha pledged allegiance to Oman whereas Nahwa opted to be part of Sharjah.
A portrait of Qaboos bin Said al Said, the Sultan of Oman as we crossed into Madha. There were no border controls and we were free to drive directly into the Omani exclave.
The very grand Mahda Mosque.
Continuing our drive for the turn off to Nahwa.
A portrait of Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, the Emir of Sharjah as we cross into Nahwa.
When drove up to a viewpoint overlooking the main village. This small 5.26 km2 piece of the UAE seemed also like a man-made island, totally surrounded by Omani territory.
And a quick selfie before beginning the drive back to the Fujairah. Our brief excursion to Madha and Nahwa was a fun and interesting escapade crossing unique and peculiar international borders in this part of the world.
After 45 more minutes of driving we arrived at the Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah.
In the lobby to check-in and where they were assembling the Christmas tree.
We were then taken to our room. We had opted for a two-bedroom family unit and it had a large and spacious dining and living room.
And the bathroom. As it was December and peak season and as our stay fell over a weekend our room rate was not an inexpensive but still reasonable $299 per night including breakfast.
Hannelie enjoying the fresh sea air after being stuck in her car seat for most of the day.
We then went for stroll in the fading light of dusk.
Looking along the long stretch of sand of the hotel beach.
Hannelie fast asleep in the baby carrier.
Looking back at the rows of balconies and sun longers.
A hotel sign warning to stay clear of the local Arabian foxes!
And a red moon on the horizon as dusk comes to an end.
Back in our room where Hannelie was now wide awake and shaking all four limbs about on her play mat.
After the long day we opted to be lazy and just order room service for dinner.
And enjoyed a tasty burger and some surpisingly good chicken biryani at the end of day 1.
I got up early in the morning morning to explore and go for a walk.
The moon shining above the mountains of Musandam in Oman in the distance.
The resort at dawn with the city of Dibba just behind. The city of Dibba is also another interesting geographic anomaly. Not only is the city separated between Oman and UAE, but the UAE side is also separated into sections belonging to the emirates of Fujairah and Sharjah.
The sky beginning to light up from the sun to the east.
An under-construction hotel to the right and the Royal Beach Hotel & Resort to the left.
A panorama looking back at the resort and the mountains of Fujairah.
Dibba Rock just offshore.
And where I would go scuba diving tomorrow morning.
Oyster farms situated in Dibba Bay.
The UAE's first oyster farm, it was opened in 2017 by celebrity chef Sean Connolly.
The sun beginning to rise above the horizon as I went for a run along the beach.
And a few more kilometers to work off last night's biryani.
At 9am we headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.
I also couldn't resist some of the fresh waffles and flapjakes with chocolate sauce.
In the hotel lobby again with the Christmas tree now fully lit and decorated.
And Hannelie after finishing her mid-morning bottle on our patio outside our room.
After relaxing in our room for the rest of the morning we headed out in the afternoon to get some sun.
And chilled out on the hotel sun loungers on the beach.
The water temperature was 24°C and great for a dip in the Gulf of Oman.
Rianda and Hannelie in the shade of a umbrella.
And wearing her pink baby sunglasses and matching top.
In the evening we decided to make the short drive into the city for dinner at Othmani Turkish Restaurant.
Some sweet Turkish tea to start.
Followed by mixed Turkish flatbread to share.
Rianda's kofta and cheese with spicy bulgur.
My sizzling hot lamb plate.
Some sweet künefe and ice cream to share for dessert.
And back at the hotel with Hannelie fast asleep in her crib at the end of day 2.
At the hotel restaurant just after 7:30am for breakfast again.
I was eating by myself this morning as I had to be at the hotel dive shop by 8:30am for my scuba dive at Dibba Rock.
And at the onsite Palms Dive Center getting fitted out for a wetsuit.
Also on this mornings dive excursion were some American expats who had come across from Dubai earlier this morning.
Our dive instructor, Neil from Durban, briefing on us on our dive at Dibba Rock this morning.
And in the water and about to head down.
Fish swimming in the waters surrounding Dibba Rock.
Today's dive was relatively shallow at 6-12 meters deep.
It had been over two years since my last dive but I quickly got my buoyancy and breathing under control and it felt great to be back underwater again.
There had been recent storms so while the visibility wasn't perfect it was still very reasonable.
A colourful striped lion fish hiding amongst the sea urchins.
There was little current so we just slowly made our way around the rock wall.
Despite living in the UAE for 10+ years it was my first time diving in the Gulf of Oman.
Hundreds of fish along the rock wall.
A small moray eel keeping its eyes on us.
On the surface again after ~50 minutes under the sea.
And about to climb aboard the boat at the end of a relaxing and very enjoyable dive.
Back onshore I met up with the ladies at the hotel café. For the Christmas season they redecorated with real gingerbead.
My cappuccino and biscotti, Rianda's fruit juice and her mum's earl grey tea. We also couldn't resist getting some Christmas gingerbread cookies to takeaway.
In the afternoon we headed outside to the hotel pool.
And Hannelie enjoyed her first ever swim in the toddlers pool.
The water was heated to 30+°C so she probably though it was just another bath though!
After the swim we went for a walk to the gazebo at the end of the jetty.
And the ladies posing for a three generation portrait.
In the evening we headed to the hotel bar for a drink.
Riandas Mum's gin & tonic on the left with Rianda's Strawberry Delight mocktail centre made with pineapple, lemon, grapefruit, and strawberries. My Bull Frog cocktail (right) with its potent blend of vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec, blue curaçao and Red Bull. It had quite a kick and definitely put my in holiday mode!
And for dinner we shared the grilled fish & chips and pepperoni pizza from the bar menu at the end of a relaxing day 3.
After a very good sleep I went for a run into the city of Dibba.
A map of the UAE in the colours of the countries flag painted on the side of a rocky cliff.
Passing by a local branch of HFC.
About to head back after reaching Dibba Pot Roundabout.
And back at the Radisson with Rianda and Hannelie enjoying a lazy sleep in.
Hannelie wasn't quite ready to wake up though and decided to make the most of the soft hotel duvet.
At 9am we headed to the restaurant again to enjoy one last hotel buffet breakfast.
Enjoying some tasty fried eggs, sausages and french toast.
With only a few hours until we had to depart we headed to the eastern hotel pool to relax in the morning sun.
One last dip in the pool.
And one last holiday selfie before packing the car for our return home.
We then reluctantly checked out just before midday.
Our drive back to Dubai today was 161 kilometres and just under 2 hours.
Making the turn off to Dubai on the outskirts of Dibba.
Driving through the moon-like landscape on the E87 highway.
And emerging out into the desert at the end of a great four days in Dibba!