Khor Fakkan lies on the east coast of the UAE, with its coastline on the Gulf of Oman. It is considered to be part of Sharjah, the third-largest emirate in the UAE, but it is surrounded by the emirate of Fujairah through a strange quirk of local politics.
Cruise terminal: There is no cruise terminal in Khor Fakkan
Shore excursions: There are great beach resorts and historical sites within Khor Fakkan itself, along with adventure excursions into the mountains beyond the city
Language: Arabic officially, but English widely spoken
Dress code: Shoulders and legs should be covered if visiting a mosque
Currency: The UAE dirham, but US dollar, British pound and euros all widely accepted in tourist areas
The city is best-known as the home of Khor Fakkan Container Terminal, the second-largest container port in the country after Jebel Ali, and it is within this port that the new Khor Fakkan Cruise Terminal will be built.
The dock offers free shuttle busses to the port entrance (as walking within the port is not allowed), from which passengers can get a taxi into town.
You can also do the 20-minute walk along the Corniche instead. Despite its reputation as a dusty commercial port city, Khor Fakkan is not without its own charm.
The water front corniche is several kilometres long and flanked by palm trees, gardens, kiosks and playgrounds overlooking the beach. It links the port and the fish market with the Oceanic Khorfakkan Resort & Spa, one of the oldest and grandest hotels in the area.
Walking into the Oceanic is a bit like stepping back in time, to a colonial era when the fledgling UAE was a protectorate of the British Empire and colonial administrators and diplomats would have stopped here during ocean voyages between London and Mumbai.
There is a strong sense of history in Khor Fakkan that is hard to find in the glittering urban jungle of Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Several of the city’s key attractions celebrate this history, such as Al Bidya Mosque, the oldest mosque in the UAE, the Heritage Village, with traditional houses, cooking utensils, farming tools and the Al Yazrah irrigation system on display.
This irrigation system was used for watering fields and has a working bull for guests to see. Heritage Village also contains the Fujairah fortress and other ancient buildings, which were used by the Ruler’s family.
The Department of Archeology and Heritage in Fujairah has renovated the fortress, constructed a wall of mud around the area and built a theatre that can accommodate more than 3,000 spectators.
Outside of the city there are several natural attractions, such as Wadi Wurayah, a fresh-water wadi that is an oasis of greenery and biodiversity, and one of the oldest sites of human settlement in the region, with ruins dating back to 300 BC.
Just off the coast there is Shark Island, with excellent white beaches that are great for snorkeling, diving and swimming. Black tip reef sharks, cow-tail rays, turtles, honeycomb moray eels, puffers and batfish frequent the bays around the island.
You can enjoy a great view from the 20m high top of the island. Also just outside the city is Khor Kalba, the oldest mangrove forest in Arabia and an important conservation site for endangered species, home to two of the world’s rarest birds: the White-collared Kingfisher and Skye’s warbler.
The cruise terminal at Khor Fakkan
The Port of Khor Fakkan, where cruise ships dock in the city, does not have a cruise terminal building at present, but there are plans to build one to model the large and efficient cruise terminal in Dubai.
The new cruise ship terminal, which was approved in 2015, is planned to be a fully-functioning terminal capable of accommodating the largest cruise ships in the world, providing passengers and crew with dedicated facilities for port customs, immigration authorities, police and shopping.
Is Khor Fakkan good for shopping?
There is a slightly old and dilapidated shopping centre called the Blue Souq in the city centre, where gold and expensive designer clothes can be bought on the ground floor, with carpets and other curios from across the Middle East and North Africa sold on the upper floor.
Here on the first floor, haggling can also lead to excellent deals and the carpets are considered by UAE expats to be among the best available in the country. There is also the Souq al-Arsah, which is indistinguishable apart from the fact that it is considered to be the oldest souq in the UAE.
Currency and language in Khor Fakkan
Like the rest of the United Arab Emirates, Arabic is the official and main language in Khor Fakkan although the city’s bustling tourist industry ensures that many locals and expats from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are able to speak decent English.
The local currency is the UAE dirham. Major foreign currencies such as the US dollar, British pound and the euro are also accepted by a limited number of stores.
How to behave in Khor Fakkan
Khor Fakkan is part of the emirate of Sharjah, one of the most conservative in the UAE, but it is a lot more relaxed than Sharjah City itself.
Bikinis and speedos wont be appropriate swim wear for the public beaches, although at the resorts and more remote spots, such as Shark Island, it wont prove a problem.
Women should dress modestly, but the full shoulders and knees covered effort is only required for visits to religious sites.
Who cruises to Khor Fakkan?
MSC Lirica will call in Khor Fakkan on her new series of roundtrip Dubai cruises to India, with Khor Fakkan one of the final port calls during the 14-night cruise.
P&O Cruises, sailing its maiden cruise season in the Arabian Gulf out of Dubai in 2019, will also feature the city as a port of call on its 10-night cruises.
When Azamara Club Cruises’ ship Azamara Quest sails her single Dubai to Dubai cruise in November, she will call in Khor Fakkan. The ship will spend a day in the city on November 30th, 2019.
Seabourn Ovation will be the final cruise ship call of the year in the city, with a schedule day in port on December 3rd during her 19-night Dubai to Singapore cruise.