A walk through Khasab

Some 25.000 out of 43.000 inhabitants of Musandam live in this city. Khasab fort hosts a very interesting museum. Since 2009 Khasab is linked to Muscat by the world's fastest high speed ferry.

 

The Khasab Hotel is situated about 2.5 kilometers from the harbor on the southern edge of the town. The newer Golden Tulip Khasab hotel is just outside of town, perched on a promontory with panoramic view of sea and mountains. Musandam’s new administrative center spreads out between this hotel and the old palm groves. The new buildings on the right hand side of the road accommodate almost exclusively local authority and ministry offices. Their presence greatly eases the bureaucratic life of the inhabitants of Musandam, while at the same time making manifest Oman’s claim to power over the peninsula. The inhabitants have more or less recognized the supreme authority of the Omani sultans since the 18th century, but the rulers had mostly shown very little interest in the barren area.

Today the free port of Dubai can be reached in a three hour drive from Khasab along the coast road. In the middle of the wide arc of the bay, directly on the coastline, the beautifully restored fort of Khasab rises up. The fort was probably erected by the Portuguese at the beginning of the 17th century, after they had been driven out of Hormuz. Khasab’s great merit, then as now, was the large reserves of groundwater, unusual for the region. Khasab fort embodies the simplest basic form of Omani fortress architecture, as found throughout the entire country. The fort hosts a very interesting museum about the art of boat building of the inhabitants of Musandam, their arts and crafts, habits and music.

With their size the few, venerable dhows dominate the harbor. It could be a picture from a hundred years ago if it weren’t for a very different modern show being put on in the direct vicinity. A number of small fiberglass speedboats are disturbing the calm: smugglers from Iran, who load and unload boats of contraband goods before they start their trip back home an hour’s ride across the strait. From Iran goats, sheep and gazelle are brought in exchange for cigarettes and household appliances.

Since 2009 Khasab is linked to Muscat by the world's fastest high speed ferry. The ride takes only 6 hours.