Feature2 » Excellent restoration work on Fujairah heritage sites continues

Excellent restoration work on Fujairah heritage sites continues

FUJAIRAH 2 [3] jpgFor years now, Fujairah and the United Arab Emirates has seen careful and lovingly executed restoration work on its historical sites carried out under the orders and permission of H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi. 


The work has been managed and personally overseen by engineer Amrik Plaha for two decades now, with a small but incredibly dedicated crew of 70 men.


Mr. Plaha was one of the original team invited to rebuild Fujairah Fort from ruins in the late 1990s. Over the years, him and his team will attest to the painstaking nature of the work- precision and historical accuracy were very key to the project. No room for ‘interpretations’ or elaborate, inaccurate finishing.


“I was invited by the Fujairah Government in 1997 to restore the fort under the guidance of Dr. Enrico d’Errico, a prominent restorer of Arab architecture and UNESCO Heritage Sites. At that time the Fort was a mere heap of collapsed stones, pieces of Gypsum-plaster, Sarooj and mud mixed with broken pieces of wood from the roofing.”


Anyone that speaks to Amrik Plaha can see his dedication to his job, he speaks passionately of sites that most people would see as hopeless- “Some crumbling walls were leaning as if they were inviting me to look after them.”


FUJAIRAH 5 [3] jpgFujairah Fort was recreated from a pile of debris with very few records and plans, and only old photographs to refer to, and many will say the design is almost identical to the original. The vast majority of work was done manually to preserve the integrity of the original site- a very time and labor-intensive project. 


A recently published paper on archaeology by Fujairah Tourism and Antiquities estimated the fort was built in the sixteenth century.


After years of careful work, the project grew to include the restoration of the Ruler’s Quarters and the heritage village surrounding. Within the wall surrounding the Fort and village, you find the home restored with care and attention to its former self. For the most part, you will find the items of furniture are originals, and those that aren’t have been found as the closest option possible.


Many will be surprised to learn that these were the quarters where the Ruler’s father H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi lived at one point with his young family and the Deputy Ruler in the vicinity, no doubt creating strong family and community bonds that still tie Fujairah today.


Mr. Plaha has great praise and respect for the guidance that has been given by H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed in the restoration of these precious monuments: “who is always beside us to guide and provide all the required information”.


He has provided the restoration team with many of his personal photographs and testimony with which to guide the process. 


Fujaira new 002 jpgThose passing the Fort will notice the exterior wall has had an elaborate entrance built, a grand entrance project that everyone felt necessary to frame all the extensive work done.


Mr. Plaha says of the gate project: “There were numerous design submitted and the early consultations were with the Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, who then discussed with his father, the Ruler of Fujairah H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi-“


For the Royal Family, Fujairah Municipality and Amrik and his team, it was important to see the this exterior wall completed in a way that would finish the project in the fashion it had been started in- accurately, thoroughly and tastefully. 


“When the entrance is lit up in the evening it gives an almost mystical backdrop of the fort and if you look from the inside it frames the Minarets of the new Mosque in an interesting way”- Amrik says of the new entrance.


He’s not wrong. Lighting has been a very important feature of all the projects. For years now, the Fort itself has been lit up in all manners and occasions, giving it a pride of place in the city amongst our growing landmark sites. 


"We are grateful to Dr. Ahmad Khalifa Al Shamsi, then Director of the Department of Heritage and Archeology and now Director of Fujairah Tourism and Antiquities Authority for his help in finding the necessary local materials, information and testimony to carry out this work” added Amrik.


Fujairah’s growing community should be grateful for our leadership taking initiative to protect its heritage in the face of massive change and development, and the reminder of all our history being part of the future. Also to those dedicated to strengthening the literal foundations of a nation’s identity brick by brick.


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