KT Photos: SM Ayaz Zakir
In the early days of the formation of the UAE, it would take more than 10 hours with multiple stops to reach Fujairah from Dubai. There were no proper roads. There was only one road and people had to ask anyone for directions, a long-time resident shared. Khaleej Times.
“The first time I came to Fujairah in 1972, it took 12 hours from Dubai. It had been barely a year since the union and road construction was progressing rapidly in the country,” said Hyder Faraz Hyderi, a Fujairah-based businessman.
“There were no adequate roads. It was just a road and we had to ask each and every one of us for directions,” Hyderi said.
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“I can now drive to Dubai five times a day easily thanks to the world-class roads and infrastructure the UAE has to offer,” Hyderi said. He has witnessed the remarkable transformation of the United Arab Emirates since the era of truce states.
Hyderi’s journey began when he landed in Dubai by boat from Iran and, at the tender age of 8, worked at Abdullah Al Harari’s hardware store for five years before venturing to Fujairah to start his own business.
Hyderi reflects on his early days in Dubai, where he had the privilege of meeting the founding fathers, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. “Sheikh Rashid used to visit the Iranian market regularly, showing a friendly character and inquiring about the well-being of the residents.”
After gaining knowledge about the hardware business, Hyderi ventured into the corporate world. In 1972, he established his hardware store in Fujairah, witnessing the city’s humble beginnings with only a few houses near the ledge area. “I wanted a new place to start my business. Fujairah was a small city. But I felt that in the coming years more people would come and settle down, which would make the business prosperous,” Hyderi said.
Despite the challenges of operating in a city with a limited population, Hyderi foresaw massive growth. “I tried and opened the first hardware store in Fujairah. It was a great success,” Hyderi said.
Returning to his hometown
However, after the Gulf War in 1992, Hyderi faced significant losses, forcing him to temporarily close his business and return to Iran for a few years. “In 1998 I returned to Fujairah and opened a small shop selling various products. Gradually, I expanded the product inventory and the store footprint became much larger than what it started with,” said Hyderi, who has been running the same store for the past 25 years.
When Hyderi looks back, he remembers Fujairah’s transformation into a modern city with imposing buildings, world-class hospitals, an airport and well-developed roads. “There were no buildings higher than one story,” he recalled.
From fishmonger to fish market
“Only one person would sell fish in Fujairah. His name was Javed, from Bangladesh. He passed away a few years ago. In the same place where he sold fish, we now have a bustling fish market,” Hyderi said.
“Fujairah had hills, forests and barren lands, but now most places are occupied. The only road leading to Oman, passing through Kalba, and the central watchtower that once stood proud are now distant memories,” Hyderi added.
Making the most of the windy weather
During the winter months, Hyderi enjoys the pleasant weather, reading the newspaper in the morning and reciting the Quran in the evening. “Most of my time is spent reading. I read two Arabic newspapers a day. Call me old school, for me it is not just entertainment but a source of knowledge.”
From long trips to short trips, from small shops to shopping malls, from ground-level houses to high-rise buildings, Hyderi has witnessed how Fujairah has developed over the years and how the cities of the United Arab Emirates They have transformed into world-class metropolises.
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