Bull-butting in Fujairah….

One of those “Lets go and see what’s going on over there” moments. 

After a day on the East coast of UAE, wandering along beaches, checking out the shore life, admiring the views and doing a little bit of shell collecting (of course) we decided to head back to Dubai, taking a slightly different route so I could try to get some shots of the magnificent mosque recently constructed in Fujairah.

Leaving Fujairah, one of the main coastal towns on the East Coast of the UAE, far removed from the glitz and glamour of Dubai, we passed a piece of waste ground behind the corniche which was full of tethered bulls, lots of people and the ubiquitous 4WD’s parked up everywhere.

Driving over to see what was going on, there was a ringed off area and what looked like a bull event happening. The UAE version of a bull-fight was in process. A very different event when compared to the better known Iberian equivalent.

Just a simple fence, folks sitting in the ring and crowding around the perimeter and a lot of massive snorting bulls, tied to posts outside the fragile fence, waiting their turn.

In the centre two bulls, a handler each with a cane, leaping out the way of the bulls as they staggered around, horns locked, hooves pawing the ground until the weaker bull breaks out of the fight. The winner paraded around the field and the next bulls are brought out. No blood or human victory here, just a battle of strength between two giants.

Every Friday at 4pm, except during Ramadan, this traditional event takes place on the Fujairah corniche. Just roll up and take a look, no charge.

The commentary is in Arabic, so unless you are fluent it’s a case of picking up the action by viewing what is going on.

Each bull has a handler with a cane for leading and rope for some sort of control, although these beasts are massive. Each butting session is around 2 mins, the goal for the bulls is to push each other out of a circle, the strongest wins and as we watched, the losing bull decided to make a run for it. Heading straight towards the seated viewers inside the ring area (opposite from my viewpoint mercifully), the stampeding animal was swiftly brought under control. It obviously happens a lot, no-one was phased, everyone leapt out of the way, smiles all around and the next session commenced.

Some say the sport was introduced centuries ago by the Portuguese. No harm comes to the animals, no prizes are awarded, it’s all about strength and honour. Betting is illegal in the Emirates but winning a contest can increase the bull’s value immensely. Bull butting was something I never expected to see here, another little quirk in this land of surprises.

I did get to the mosque, absolutely beautiful in the late afternoon light, but so big my camera lens struggled to frame it (hmm, do I feel a wide-angled buy coming on?), the iPhone camera managed the massive size of the mosque with ease.

Time to head home through the mountains.

Feeling hungry on the way so a roadside shawarma stop allowed me to catch another of the intense sunsets we get here.

All routes now lead back to the big city in the sand….

5 comments on “Bull-butting in Fujairah….

  1. It seems like that would be more interesting than the Iberian version – the end is not pre-ordained.

    Is it just me, or is there a certain irony in all those gentlemen wearing pure white robes in a land of sand, dirt, and dust?


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