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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Dh5.5bn highway between Sharjah and Khor Fakkan opens

The Ruler of Sharjah inaugurated the road - which will cut travel time between the two places by half - on Saturday

Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, opens the Sharjah-Khorfakkan Road on Saturday. Wam
Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, opens the Sharjah-Khorfakkan Road on Saturday. Wam

A highway that will cut travel time between Sharjah and Khor Fakkan by half opened on Saturday.

The aptly named Sharjah–Khor Fakkan Road was inaugurated by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.

The four-lane road is 89 kilometres long and comprises five tunnels connecting Khor Fakkan, on the East coast, to the Dafta region of Sharjah on the coast of the Arabian Gulf.

Ordinarily the 135km drive between the emirate and city takes an average of an hour and a half with most of the journey taking place on the Sharjah-Kalba Road.

Now motorists will weave through mountains to arrive at their destination in just 45 minutes.

Construction of the highway – part of the Dh5.5 billion Road 142 project - involved boring through mountains and included the establishment of Al Rafisah Dam rest stop and recreational centre, which was also opened by the Ruler of Sharjah on Saturday.

The shortest tunnel, Al Saha road, is 300m long and the longest, Al Sidra Tunnel, extends 2.7km, earning it the record of “Longest Tunnel in the Middle East”, according to the emirate’s government media bureau, Sharjah Media.

The second phase of the project, which includes a road from Khor Fakkan to Shais, will be handled by two companies.

“The people of Shais were in urgent need for a road that serves them, and despite the high cost of the project, and how difficult it was to work on it in a mountainous hard terrain and high area, our main goal was to serve people – nationals and residents,” Dr Sheikh Sultan said on Saturday.

The project has been 14 years in the making and the idea was first conceived of by the Ruler of Sharjah who saw a need for better infrastructure in the area.

“Around 14 years ago, I was here in Shais and the people were suffering, they couldn’t transfer their patients to hospitals.

“I used to come here every year, and we used to climb the shaky giant rocks to get there,” said Sheikh Sultan.

At that time, he told the then chief of Shais, Khamees Al Naqbi, “we will build stairs to make it easier for all of you to reach the village.

“And I told him: ‘next time I won’t come the known road, but I will come from that mountain’.”

The chief of Shais told him it was not possible, as no human being has ever set foot on that mountain, and if a road were to be built, the costs would be too great.

“I told him: No matter how costly, even if we had to allocate Sharjah’s entire budget for it.”

Since then the road has been rough; construction companies were reluctant to take on the project due to the area’s rough terrain and the difficulty of digging tunnels.

“They said: ‘This project is impossible, anything is possible except this mountain.’

“I told them: I know this mountain very well, it challenges me from the ground, and it challenges me from the sky,” said Dr Sheikh Sultan.

Engineers continued to study the mountain before eventually finding a way to carry out the project.

Dr Sheikh Sultan said that despite the high cost and difficulty of constructing the road, it will be of great service to the people of Shais.