‘Khorfakkan’: Sharjah ruler's book set for big screen adaptation

The historical drama movie is set in the UAE coastal city in the early 16th century

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In the run up to one of the most anticipated UAE film releases, Sharjah TV will air a behind-the-scenes look on the movie Khorfakkan.

The documentary will be broadcast on Thursday, December 17, the same day the film releases in cinemas. The Making of Khorfakkan will show viewers the work it took to bring together the historical drama and interviews with the cast and crew.

Based on the writings of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, the movie is set in the early 16th century and chronicles the resistance staged by local tribes against colonising Portuguese troops in what is today known as the Sharjah coastal city of Khorfakkan.

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, centre, has overseen several aspects of the film. SBA
Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, centre, has overseen several aspects of the film. SBA

The documentary details the influential role Sheikh Al Qasimi had in ensuring the authenticity of the film from the choice of locations and costume design to the portrayal of the local and social practices of the time.

What do we know about 'Khorfakkan'?

The film is based on Sheikh Al Qasimi's book, Khorfakkan's Resistance Against the Portuguese Invasion of September 1507. Shot on the shores within the ancient city, the film details how local communities fought back against the invasion led by Portuguese naval commander General Afonso de Albuquerque.

Produced by Sharjah Broadcasting Authority and developed by Get Go Films Limited, the film boasts a seasoned list of cast and crew.

Khorfakkan stars Emirati actors Ahmed Al Jassmi, Khalifa Al Bihri and Abdullah Almaqbali. In playing the role of local resistance figures Saeed and Nasser, both Al Bihri and Al Maqbali will draw upon their chemistry when last appearing together in 2017 Emirati Netflix legal drama Qalb Al Adala (Heart of Justice).

Taking on the role of General Alfonso de Albuquerque is the experienced Syrian actor Rashid Assaf, who starred in a range of historical Arabic dramas including the 2019 Emirati production Mamalic Al-Nar (Kingdoms of Fire) and the Syrian series Shaware' El-Sham El Ateqa (Old Streets of the Levant).

Behind the scenes, the film is directed by Ben Mole and Maurice Sweeney. The US and Irish filmmakers come to the project with extensive experience helming documentaries and dramas.

Mole directed the 2017 series Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror and the all six episodes of the 2015 The Last Days Of series which looked at the final periods of historical figures including Julius Caesar, Rasputin and Guy Fawkes.

Sweeney's credits include directing episodes of 2020 British crime dramas Penance and Blood, in addition to the 2016 documentary series Barbarians Rising.

UAE history on the screen

Khorfakkan is part of a growing body of film and television works detailing the history of the UAE.

Last year also saw the release of lavish production History of the Emirates. Produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and narrated by Academy Award winning British actor Jeremy Irons, the three-part series traces the history of the UAE over the span of 125 years.

While 2007's Emirati production, Arabian Sands was largely inspired by the memoirs of British explorer Wilfred Thesiger's travels across Trucial States era UAE and the wider region.

This past Ramadan also saw a string of television series providing an engaging insight into local life well before the oil boom.

There was Emart TV's Khashe' Nashe, a sweet comedy set in an Emirati village in the 1960s. Shot in Ras Al Khaimah, the series followed two brothers as the come to terms with a rapidly evolving UAE. There was also the comedy series Miftah Al Qif, set in the emerging world of the 1980s Emirati film and television industry.

The Making of Khorfakkan will air on Sharjah TV on Thursday, December 17 at 10pm and Friday December 18 at 2pm. For details go to www.sba.net