Jeddah Saudi Arabia

Al Qatan Tourism Village and Al Fahad ship wreckage site

December 14, 2016

I first learned about this open beach when a colleague shared a selfie with the shipwreck in the background. When asked where he took the photo from, he told me about Al Qatan Tourism Village about 80 kilometers from our place. I got so curious that as soon as we had a weekend off from work, I swayed the group to visit the site.

It took us about an hour traveling by car to reach the site. As we approach the area, we realized we did not need to go into the private resort to view the shipwreck. The ship wreckage site is situated along the shoreline close to Shoaibah Desalination Plant.

Further googling revealed the site as the famous ship wreckage of a Ro-Pax vessel named Al Fahad. The ship had engine problems and its old crew had to abandon the vessel 14.6 kilometers southwest of the old city center of Jeddah.

Al Fahad Shipwreck

A second stint on the English Channel as the Mona’s Isle beginning in April of 1985 didn’t work out: the ship was laid up in October 1985 and subsequently sold to Egypt’s Sadaka Shipping group in 1986. Renamed the Al Fahad, the ferry performed with aplomb until 2004 when she ran aground on a famously dangerous reef near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where she joined a host of other grounded, abandoned and forgotten hulks blistering in the hot Arabian sun.

The Urbanist: The Unloved Boats

Al Fahad ship wreckage site
Al Fahad ship wreckage site

The cool sea breeze was a welcoming change from the city smog. Though when I uncapped my camera lens, fog completely covered the lens surface and it took me more than fifteen minutes to get it acclimated and cleared. The humidity was relatively high and if I had a hygrometer with me, it would have registered 80.

Selfies ensued!

My selfie at Al Fahad ship wreckage site
Al Fahad ship wreckage site
Tire tracks around the wreckage site

Love those tire tracks! We were told that ATVs are popular there though we didn’t find any in our visits.

Going around Al Qatan Tourism Village and Al Fahad Ship Wreckage site

Al Qatan Tourism Village is a beach resort near Shoaiba Desalination Plant and going there is relatively easy. The resort can be easily located since several sign boards pointing to the resort village can be seen along the way. Take the route to Industrial City and traverse the highway towards Jizan. Turn right on the exit towards the resort. And if going to the ship wreckage site, turn left before reaching the resort and continue driving until you cross a small bridge. The bridge seems to be a popular fishing site and there are several fishing boats docked around it. The shipwreck is already visible from there so you just have to continue driving until you find your preferred spot.

Boat dock at Al Qatan Tourism Village
Small bridge at Al Qatan Tourism Village
Al Fahad ship wreckage site beach

We have been in the area twice but didn’t really go to Al Qatan Tourism Village or any of the other resorts nearby. We’re only there for the early morning swim as we would usually do when at the Red Sea. The shipwreck can also be seen without going to the resorts. But you need to rent one of the resorts in the area if you want to do other sporting activities such as ATV ride, boating, and scuba diving.

Road back to Jeddah city center
Road back to Jeddah city center

Forgot to take photos of the exit road going to Al Qatan resort so here are photos I took on our way back to Jeddah.

Holes dug by sand crabs at Al Qatan Tourism Village
Mounds made by sand crabs at Al Qatan Tourism Village

And sand crabs galore. Those are holes and mounds made by the sand crabs inhabiting the area. Go get them!

What’s sad though is that the people visiting the wreckage site, and the rest of the Red Sea shore, leave their trashes behind causing them to accumulate greatly over time. Shouldn’t everyone be accountable for their own trash?

  • Reply
    April 12, 2018 at 11:19 PM

    I heard that Saudi Arabia is becoming more open to tourists. I think I would wait a little longer before visiting, especially as a woman, but this looks like a cool place to see!

  • Reply
    January 29, 2020 at 8:36 AM

    Sad to see those photos. Great memories when I was the 3rd Mate/Officer on Al Fahad. Our home port is Jeddah(Saudi Arabia) and our port of call is Suez(Egypt) and Port Sudan(Africa).We carry Cars, Passengers and Farm produce. I always wanted to see what happen to her.

    Thank you for sharing!!!

    Tears in heaven.

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      January 30, 2020 at 1:07 PM

      Thanks for letting us know. It feels great to have someone from that ship looking at these photos. I haven’t been to the ship per se, but I’d like to think it’s a great diving spot right now.

    • Reply
      Riaan Muller
      August 29, 2021 at 2:17 AM

      I went to see the Al-Fahad shipwreck today … it’s sad to think that the ship was somewhat abandoned in this location in 2004 after technical engine problems (and no real accident or storm or other unfortunate incident). But there is another ferry ship wreck very close to the Al-Fahad, called the EuropaFergen (later called Saudi Golden Arrow) … it seems it also ran aground in this area in 2005 …

      • Reply
        Noel Cabacungan
        August 29, 2021 at 1:54 PM

        Hi Riaan, there’s another commenter who was part of the crew before the shipwreck happenend. Were you part of Al-Fahad, too?

        By the way, I’m checking out the other shipwreck you mentioned. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Reply
    October 22, 2021 at 7:32 AM

    Saudi Golden Arrow is a sister ship of Al Fahad. Meaning, they are on the same company of Sadaka Lines. It’s actually older than Al Fahad.They are a Roro / Ro-pax (Roll on/Roll off / Passenger) type. They are actually designed to cross a channel, not for a long distance navigation.
    Al Fahad (formerly MV Free Enterprise III ) Calais and Zeebrugge routes from Dover in English channel.

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