FUJAIRAH // The metal roof on Hasan Al Yamahi’s house offers his family little protection from the elements. Summers are hot, uncomfortable and sticky, while the winter rains seep in with ease.
The Emirati’s two-room house, which he shares with his wife, son and daughter, is typical of homes in the mountain village of Al Taween. His neighbours’ properties all have the same basic pebble flooring and separate outdoor kitchens.
“The house has cement walls and a metal ceiling. We can’t turn off the air conditioning at all as the room won’t stay cool,” said Mr Al Yamahi, 57. “Cooking in the kitchen is considered a punishment, especially during summer as its located in the yard.
“Each season has its own problems, in summer the heat is intolerable and in winter, water comes from everywhere. The municipality gave us a house but we couldn’t live in it as it was poorly built and started collapsing many years ago and it’s now scheduled to be demolished.”
Mr Al Yamahi has been approved for a housing loan but is waiting for a plot of land to be allocated to build another home.
Improvement plans are in the pipeline for infrastructure and services, although the municipality has not said when that will happen.
Many of the Al Yamahi tribe who live in Al Taween, about 85 kilometres from Fujairah City, feel they have largely missed out on the development that has swept over the east coast emirate in recent years. Although the area has schools and a clinic, residents complain about poor roads and a lack of services. Shopping for food and other essentials means a 40-minute drive to Dibba down poor roads with no street lights.
Mariam Al Yamahi has lived in the same house with 10 members of her family for almost 35 years. She said both her home and village need repairs.
“All the rooms needs maintenance. We didn’t have any problems in the past as the children were small but now they are big and need their own rooms and privacy which we can’t provide,” said the 50-year-old.
“Our house is old and we only have three rooms and a majlis. We submitted a request at the municipality but no one contacted us until now.”
The Ministry of Infrastructure Development promised to build 16 homes under a citizens’ housing project but people are still waiting, said Ms Al Yamahi.
“We were looking to have a house in the new project, but nobody contacted us as they need to do an inspection first to decide if we are eligible. Nobody showed up.
“The area needs many facilities and services like a hypermarket or a big supermarket as we have only a few markets that don’t have everything we need, so we have to drive to Dibba. Roads needs to be paved and one school needs to be reconstructed as the building is very old.”
With her children approaching adulthood, Ms Al Yamahi would like a wedding hall built in the village. “There is no such thing here and we need to drive for a long period to reach the nearest one.”
Ahmad Al Yamahi shares his home with his two wives, their children and his married son’s family. The 65-year-old said space is always an issue.
“Our house was built in 1981 and requires regular maintenance, which is something we can’t afford. Three families are living in this house. We added one big room for my son to stay with his wife and kids and now the roof needs maintenance the we also can’t afford.”
Mohammed Al Afkham, director general of Fujairah Municipality, said there are plans to improve the area and add more services.
“We are working along with Fujairah Natural Resources Corporation and Fujairah Public Works Department to upgrade all the emirate’s roads and add lampposts. We reached Al Siji and Thoban and are now moving to Al Taween.”