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The sight of Abu Dhabi licence plates on the roads is a good omen for any small town in the United Arab Emirates. It means investment, interest and capital is on the way. Cars brandishing these plates now race across a new highway that connects the east coast town of Fujairah with the rest of the country. As the only Emirate not to strike oil in the rush of the 1970s, Fujairah has remained quiet, rural and pointedly proud of it.

Whereas Abu Dhabi’s skyline is dominated by high-rises, Fujairah has the stark but spectacular Hajar mountains as a…

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