x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New RAK marina to open

The country's northernmost port will open its 266-berth marina today as it shifts its business focus from trade to tourism.

Al Jeer Port, which sits on the UAE-Oman border about 70 kilometres from mainland Iran.
Al Jeer Port, which sits on the UAE-Oman border about 70 kilometres from mainland Iran.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The country's northernmost port will open its 266-berth marina today as it shifts its business focus from trade to tourism.

Al Jeer Port sits on the UAE-Oman border about 70 kilometres from mainland Iran, which has been subjected to tightened UN sanctions since June. The port hopes to capitalise on its geography as a launching point to Oman's Musandam peninsula, a popular tourist destination known for its diving and fishing.

"We've had to diversify because the trade with Iran has been constricted," said Tim Bomberg, the port's operations manager. "Therefore with our location on the Strait of Hormuz it's meant that we have looked to Musandam."

The port opened in August 2008 and was primarily used as a GCC entry port for livestock. It has undergone extensive security improvements over the last year.

The port will offer sailors quick visa clearance to Oman beginning later this year, a process that can take days in other emirates.

RAK's maritime security came under scrutiny following its selection as the location for the America's Cup yacht race in 2009, a decision later overturned by a New York court amid concern about its proximity to Iran. RAK sailors have since been keen to prove that the emirate is safe.

"We offer the best security of any port or any marina and we are ideally located to explore Musandam," Mr Bomberg said.

"The America's Cup concerns were unfounded and unwarranted. People who have the correct information to hand know the situation and know that it is fine."

Sailors and officials from Sailing Arabian The Tour, which sailed this month through Musandam waters on a race from Manama to Muscat, commended RAK's security and weather, which they said were ideal.

The northern section of Al Jeer will remain an active port while the south will host the marina, a bistro, a sailing club, a supermarket and accommodation. An instructional facility at the marina will offer boat safety courses, while there are also plans to open a dive centre and deep sea fishing company later this year.

The opening event will feature canoeing, deep sea fishing, falconry and live music.

azacharias@thenational.ae