Overlooking an exclave city of Khor Fakkan on one side and the Gulf of Oman on the other, an earthy Al Rabi hiking trail offers exceptional panoramic views. Graded as a beginner level hike, this trail is visited by outdoor lovers of various age groups and fitness levels. It is one of a few hikes in the UAE that is located in the city. Therefore, this route is very accessible and popular amongst locals as a quick weekend getaway.
The starting point of this marked hiking route is at Al Rabi watch tower – an important historical landmark which was built in 1915 AD and used to guard the city.
Why Al Rabi is one of my favorite trails in the UAE
An elevation of approximately 395 meters and only 3km (one way) of clearly marked trails guarantee fun and mesmerizing experience. Along the way, you will be soaking up breathtaking views of rugged Hajar mountains and Khorfakkan town landmarks. These blend in seamlessly with the horizon of the sea. Halfway into the hike, you might want to stop and immerse into the vastness of the waters of the Gulf of Oman. Moreover, be ready to meet the goats. Some of which are peacefully resting on the rocks and are happy to be photographed. Finally, as the heat cools down, towards the evening, you will find local spectators coming from the nearby towns to enjoy a sunset.
The best time for Al Rabi hike
The Khorfakkan Al Rabi Tower hike can easily be done at any time of the day. With November until March being perfect for day-long hikes, it is advisable to hike during the early hours in the remaining summer months.
For the best views and the most pleasant temperatures on this trail, aim to hike at sunrise or sunset. If you are looking for a solo peaceful hike, go on weekdays. Although less known for tourists, this hike is very popular amongst UAE residents. Therefore, Friday evenings are the busiest – it almost seems like the whole town has woken up from a long afternoon nap and is heading for the mountain top.
Our hike was on a Friday afternoon in February. When we started, there were a few people trekking, but it became crowded towards the evening. As a result, unlike in the early afternoon, the trail was no longer available for only a few of us.
Regardless, it was fun to watch people of various backgrounds and age groups strolling the mountain. Most of them were driven by the same goal – reaching the highest point and taking a selfie with the UAE flag.
Moreover, I was amazed by ladies in abayas and kaftans hiking all dressed up, and Pakistanis in their kurta pajamas and slippers jumping over the rocks – it is clear that this hike is a favorite city attraction. That being said, it opened up many great travel photography opportunities that added some local flavor to the overall experience.
How to get to Khor Fakkan and the trail
Khor Fakkan is a 1 hour and 45 minutes drive from downtown Dubai. Driving is the fastest and cheapest way (depends on your car of course) to reach the East Coast. I would suggest taking the new Sharjah – Khor Fakkan highway which will surprise you with beautiful scenery along the way. The easiest way to find the trail is by using Google Maps. There are a few parking spots in front of the tower available for early starters. Otherwise, you can park earlier down the hill and do some extra climbing to the tower where the trail starts.
How to prepare for Al Rabi trail hike
Although the Al Rabi trail is a fairly easy hike, it is always advisable to be well prepared. Comfortable footwear- ideally hiking shoes- is a must. However, it is possible to hike in sneakers as well as long as you stay on the marked trails and do not wander “off-road”. Besides, comfy breathable sportswear, small backpack, or CamelBak with 2-3 liters of waters and some healthy snacks (power bars, nuts, dates) is what you need for a short hike.
Besides hiking, we saw people doing picnics. Although there is no dedicated place for that, everyone finds their way to enjoy the moment.
A side note: the space is very open, and there are no amenities near the trail. Therefore, you might want to make sure you use the bathroom before starting your hike.
Khor Fakkan town
Khor Fakkan is the second-largest East Coast town in the UAE. Interestingly, it belongs to the Sharjah Emirate despite being surrounded by the Emirate of Fujeirah.
Khor Fakkan which means “Creek of Two Jaws” is a town that is set on a bay that is backed by rugged and rather halwa-like (Arabic sweet) looking Hajar mountains.
Khor Fakkan powers the UAE economy with a busy industrial seaport. It is one of the major container terminal ports in the Emirates (Wikipedia).
Furthermore, the pretty Khor Fakkan beach, which lies to the North of the town, is famous for its stunning natural views, clean water, and football playgrounds. Ultimately, the town makes it a perfect weekend getaway from busy city life.