As it turns out I think Ras Al Khaimah is a bit of a silent beauty. Not just for the fabulous hotels and resorts that offer luxury breaks, but also for the amount of historical and cultural sites it hides away. The Emirates of the UAE are indeed fascinating places to be explored, if only you look beyond the surface. Read on for three of the things to do that I most enjoyed during my recent stay in the Emirate.
1. Explore the deserted Jazirat Al Hamra ghost town and fishing village
A deserted village you say? How fascinating… sounds spooky doesn’t it? Well, it is a bit. What deserted place isn’t?! The village is a collection of around a hundred or so houses, and not much seems to be known about it with differing stories being cited. One thing is for sure, it’s one of the few places where you can still get a clear idea of what life was like in the Emirates before the Oil boom.
Parts of the village are cordoned off due to restoration works, and other parts are in quite a state of disrepair but are open to walk around amongst the ruins and overgrown weeds and vines. It’s interesting to wander around and stick your head (carefully) around some of the door ways – the intricate brick work and interior brick design is amazing to see, it’s beautiful.
A deserted and somewhat broken down mosque somehow adds to the spookiness, though it is fascinating to see.
Arguably, some of the most interesting parts are the very oldest side of the fishing village, with a mosque building almost unrecognisable from today’s modern form…
…along with great views of beautiful sets of original homes with wind towers that would have housed the wealthier families in the village.
Parts of the village are closed off for restoration works but you can still get a great idea of what life was like really like in the Emirates in the not so distant past.
The village of Jazirat Al Hamra appears on google maps.
2. Stroll along the Corniche
Yes, Abu Dhabi is not the only place with a great Corniche to walk! Against the beautiful backdrop of the Hajar Mountains it makes a very pleasant stroll while the weather is good, and there’s plenty of restaurants and coffee shops to choose from along the way.
3. Visit Hudaybah Tower
A remnant of how life used to be in the Emirate, and one of very few surviving similar structures, these towers originally formed part of a larger complex of buildings built by local Sheikh families. The surrounding buildings have long since been demolished but the main tower building – the Sheikh’s residence – still remains. There’s not a huge amount to see as you can’t wander around since the structure is fenced off to the public, but anyone interested in how life used to be will find it interesting. Not just a symbol of prestige, the towering buildings also served defensive purposes.
It’s to be hoped that the Emirate will make more of these sites for visitors, both in preserving them, making them accessible for visitors and making them a little easier to find. Until then, pick up a map from your hotel and follow that, don’t expect to see any signs highlighting the way..!
There are actually many more than just three interesting things to do in Ras Al Khaimah, especially in terms of cultural and historical interest, though sadly at the moment the sites are either practically impossible to find due to lack of information and signage, or closed off to the public for protection / situated on private land. All of the historical sites including the Shamal Stone Houses and Umm An Nar Tomb are listed on the Ras Al Khaimah tourism website, but without clear directions on how to find them and I’m sad to say that my own efforts during our recent trip were not successful. Research will continue and I’ll keep you posted!