Ras Al Khaimah – Home To The Magnificent Jebal Jais
Each emirate in the UAE offers a distinct point of access to the country’s unique history and heritage, and each emirate is an incredible vantage point to further understand this nation. Ras Al Khaimah, the country’s northernmost emirate, is a fascinating place, sharing its borders (and mountain ranges) with Oman, and boasting a stunning 64 kilometres of beach coastline. The emirate includes the main city (Ras Al Khaimah City), a few towns and smaller villages, and a few small islands in the Persian Gulf. The emirate also boasts the most fertile soils in the country and has a larger share of rainfall and underground water streams from the Hajar mountains.
The emirate has a long-winded history and has had human occupation for the past 7,000 years, with many historical and archaeological sites throughout the emirate, from various time periods. Partnerships between the emirate’s Antiquities and Museums Department and US universities have led to discoveries of human remains that are over 4,000 years old; many of their discoveries are on display in museums around the emirate. During the 18th century, Ras Al Khaimah was also the home of a significant maritime force; a peace treaty was eventually signed between the Qawasim family (the ruling family of the emirate) and the British forces, which unfortunately broke down in 1815.
Their tumultuous history continued well into the years, with multiple agreements signed to ensure peace between the British and the rulers of the then-individual emirates. By the late 1960s, the British announced their intention to withdraw from the Gulf, providing a chance for the emirates to band together into one nation, with Ras Al Khaimah joining this union in 1972.
Here are some unique things to do in Ras Al Khaimah
Things to Do Ras Al Khaimah
Jebal Jais – Al Hajar Mountains
The emirate also includes the mighty Hajar mountain range, and the tallest peak, Jebel Jais, is a fun attraction to visit, at any time of the year. A 20-kilometre long road has opened up, making the peak more accessible than ever, with a number of landscaped terraces with viewing platforms and cafes scattered along the way. As visitors get closer to the top, the views become spectacular, marking this as a prime spot for some stunning photographs. The cafés along the road provide a lovely pit stop to stretch your legs, and there truly is nothing more relaxing than enjoying a hot drink atop the mountains, and soaking in the view.
Fans of historic architecture will enjoy a visit to this abandoned vishing village, Jazirat al-Hamra. The older Emirati inhabitants of the village would have made their living from fishing and pearl diving, but all the residents left the village in the early 1960s, and the arid climate has helped preserve the buildings. The buildings’ traditional coral-block architecture helps serve as a reminder of the simplicities of life before the oil boom in the late 20th century, and is a lovely blast from the past for tourists and residents alike. Another village worth visiting is Shimal, a site of many pre-Islamic tombs and a settlement that has been dated from 2000 to 1300 BC. The area is an important archaeological site in the UAE, and a number of artefacts including stone vessels, weapons, and beads have been uncovered from digs performed on-site.
Ras Al Khaimah National Museum
The Ras al Khaimah National Museum is housed in a fort that was the home of the ruling family till the early 1960s, and the museum contains a number of collections of archaeological artefacts that document the emirate’s rich history. An interesting collection is housed in the Qawasim Room, which contains a number of documents and treaties between the rulers of Ras al Khaimah and Great Britain, along with exhibits of traditional weapons that belonged to the ruling family. Situated in the old town area of the city, the museum is filled with fascinating heritage, and is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and those looking to learn about Emirati culture.
There are a number of historic fortifications and military towers around the emirate as well, including the Dhayah fort, built in the early 16th century. The fort was built in a strategic hilltop position to help defend the region from an attack by the British, and played an important role as a defensive military tower. Time has seen a lot of forts being destroyed in the war with the british forces.
One of the best things about visiting Ras Al Khaimah is the Khatt Springs, an area of mineral-rich hot pools, perfect for a relaxed, steamy weekend. The resort is in an oasis, filled with palm trees and backed by the mountain range. The healthy spring waters are a perfect getaway spot for tourists and residents alike, and is a must-visit for those looking to have a weekend away from the hubbub of the city. Architectural lovers will also enjoy this spot as it is home to over 100 archaeological sites, with digs uncovering a number of artefacts including prehistoric tombs and older fortification towers made of mud and brick. Guests can soak in the history by taking a walk around these architectural spots, and enjoy a calm, relaxing evening in the hot spring waters.
Toroverde UAE Zipline
The zipline at Jebel Jais is another intense, adrenaline-filled activity perfect for all the thrill-seekers out there. The zipline is the longest in the world, stretching 2.8 kilometres, and the zipline whips down the mountain, with zipliners reaching speeds of 120 kilometres per hour. The view is stunning from that height, and another major highlight is the halfway platform, which is suspended in mid-air. The mountain range is also popular for trekking and hiking, and the brisk mountain breeze is the perfect anecdote for the hotter summer months. As temperatures tick up, residents and tourists alike can escape to the cool mountain ranges for a brisk hike to enjoy a fresh breeze and awe-inspiring views.
Another popular hiking destination is Wadi Shawka, and is considered to be an exploration hike, as the trail offers a number of experiences including off-road drives, natural springs, lush greenery, and the mountain ranges. Experienced hikers can go off-trail and enjoy more challenging routes, while enjoying some picturesque landscapes with the mountains as a stunning backdrop.
For those looking to enjoy a slow day at the ark, Saqr park is a fun family favourite. Filled with play areas, children will find this park a memorable visit, and the park also offers a number of activities for adults, including a tennis court, an electronic games area, a roller coaster, a boating area, and a number of shops for those looking to pick up some gifts and souvenirs. The park also features a cute toy train which will take visitors around the entire area, making the experience that much more enjoyable.
Those who wish to enjoy activities closer to their resorts can look no further than outside the resort window, for the best place to visit is the beach. With over 60 kilometres of glittering coastline, there are a number of fun water sports to do, including scuba diving, renting jet skis, or even going for a swim in the sea. The clean sands are also a perfect place to take a breath and soak up some sun, and many resorts offer boats to take out onto the smaller islands in the Persian Gulf. The sea is the best place to have a warm picnic, or even take a dive off a boat and into the clear blue waters.
Ras al Khaimah is chock-full of fun activities and interesting sights to visit and is a perfect place for people to soak up some history, enjoy a trip up the mountains, or to even spend a relaxing day by the beach. From malls to boutiques to parks to water parks and everything in between, Ras al Khaimah truly does offer a number of experiences for every visitor.
How to go to Ras Al Khaimah from Dubai
You have multiple options to Ras Al Khaimah from Dubai.
1) RTA Bus
The RTA bus leaves from the union metro station costing you 25 AED one way. The service would begin at 8 am and depart every 90 mins. Make sure to arrive early and top up your Nol Card if needed. The bus would journey from Union station to Al Hamra station. Union metro station location (click here).
2) RAK Shuttle Bus Service
The tourism board of Ras Al Khaimah has begun its own shuttle service. You should take service leaves from Dubai airport to several spots in Ras Al Khaimah, service needs to be booked in advance on the website.
3) The usual cab
You can find a taxi on the road side or use the careem app to book a hala cab.