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About Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah, often abbreviated as RAK, is the northernmost of the United Arab Emirates (one of seven) and boasts a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its pristine beaches caressing the shores of the Arabian Gulf, the majestic Hajar Mountains providing a dramatic backdrop, and ancient archaeological sites telling tales of millennia past, the emirate offers a unique blend of serene landscapes and dynamic modernity.

Unlike the glass and steel skyscrapers that dominate the skylines of its neighboring emirates, Ras Al Khaimah offers a more relaxed and authentic experience of the Arabian Peninsula. Here, traditional dhows sail along tranquil creeks, age-old forts stand as silent witnesses to bygone eras, and bustling souks entice visitors with aromatic spices, perfumes, and intricate handicrafts.

RAK's burgeoning tourism industry is reflective of its diverse attractions, from luxurious beach resorts and world-class golf courses to thrilling desert safaris and adventure activities in the Hajar Mountains. As it steadily carves its niche as a premium destination, Ras Al Khaimah remains true to its roots, ensuring that visitors experience both the modern comforts and the rich Emirati heritage that this gem of the UAE has to offer. Whether you're seeking a peaceful retreat, a cultural immersion, or an adrenaline-packed adventure, RAK promises an unforgettable journey.

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Integratin into the UAE
The Maritime Legacy & British Involvement
Julfar & Emergence of RAK
Archaeological Significance
Overview
Geopolitical Shifts in the 19th Century

History

-Overview

-Archaeological Significance

-Julphar & Emergence of RAK

-The Maritime Legacy & British Involvement

-Geopolitical Shifts in the 19th Century

-Integration into the UAE

 

Overview

Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is one of the seven emirates forming the

United Arab Emirates. Located in the northern part of the country, it's

named after its capital city. "Ras Al Khaimah" translates

to "headland of the tent". The city is divided by a creek into two

primary areas: the Old Town and Nakheel. Beyond the city limits,

RAK houses several villages, new residential areas, and is framed

by the stunning North-Western Hajar Mountains.

Archaeological Significance

RAK's historical significance is deep-rooted, boasting continuous

human habitation for 7,000 years, a rarity both in the country

and globally. The emirate is dotted with numerous historical and

archaeological sites. Particularly in the area of Shimal, one can

find relics from the Umm Al Nar and Wadi Suq civilizations.

These sites paint a vivid picture of the region's ancient lifestyle,

trade, and customs.

 

Julfar & Emergence of RAK

Julfar (means pearl), the medieval port city, serves as a testament

to RAK's vibrant trading history. Over time, as Julfar's harbor silted

up, the region now known as RAK expanded and eventually enveloped

the areas that were once part of Julfar. Julfar was significant not only

for trade but also because of its inhabitants, like Ibn Majid, an influential

navigator and cartographer.

 

The Maritime Legacy & British Involvement

The 18th century was turbulent for RAK, marked by maritime

confrontations. British accounts labeled the region as

'The Pirate Coast', pointing fingers at the Al Qasimi clan's supposed

maritime piracy. However, historical interpretations vary. Some

view the Al Qasimi as a significant maritime force, with territories on

both the Persian and Arabian coasts, which naturally led to conflicts

with British trade routes. As tensions escalated, the British launched

two notable campaigns: the Persian Gulf campaigns of 1809 and

1819, aimed at diminishing the Al Qasimi influence.

 

Geopolitical Shifts in the 19th Century

The 19th century saw a pivot in RAK's geopolitical tatus. The General Maritime Treaty of 1820 with the British marked the end of piracy and the beginning of the British protectorate era over the Trucial States. Despite RAK asserting its independence in 1869, the subsequent years witnessed it being merged with Sharjah until 1921.

 

Integration into the UAE

RAK's modern era dawned with its pivotal decision to join the United Arab Emirates in 1972, after initial hesitations and geopolitical challenges, including issues related to the territories of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. Today, RAK stands as a testament to its rich past while forging ahead with a vision for the future.

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Mohammed bin Salim Mosque, Meczet Mohammeda bin Salima

          A Brief Guide to Clothing in the UAE

If this is your first time to the UAE, you may be asking yourself exactly what clothing is appropriate, or not, when it comes to packing your suitcase. Arrival at the airport will not put your mind at ease as you will find every type of exotic clothing under the sun from every corner of the globe, some of which may look like your own, but most will probably not! Come to the passport control and there you are faced with a long row of security staff wearing the flowing white and black robes of the local traditional dress.

 

This can be pretty intimidating at first, but you soon find out the truth…. the UAE is a thriving international city and all you are seeing is the traditional dress of its local and diverse international population. A cultural zoo is the UAE, in every good way possible.

 

So, first thing’s first, what are the names of the traditional UAE garments:

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Kundura / Dishdasha: The long, glowing white garment worn by men on the Arabian peninsula, including the UAE. It’s light-weight cotton or wool designed to keep the wearer  cool in hot weather. A similar version called the ‘Thobe’ is common in Saudi, Kuwait, and Qatar.

           

Ghutra: The traditional headscarf worn by the men. It’s generally white or chequered.

 

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Abaya: This is a long, loose-fitting black robe worn by women in the Gulf region. It covers the entire body, except for the face, hands, and feet.

                                                                                                                       

 Hijab: This is a headscarf worn by women to cover their hair and

neck. It is widely varying across Arabian countries depending on the region and culture.

Niqab: This is a veil that covers a woman’s face and was worn by women for modesty and privacy. 

It’s important not to confuse religion and culture. The official guidance of Islam requires modesty by women, yet how this is achieved comes down to the cultural habits and preferences of the individuals involved.  In the UAE today, the niqab is still seen however it is less common. There is also a growing trend for local men and women, particularly in the younger generations, to wear non-traditional western style clothing in some settings. 

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              Main Attractions

-Dhayah Fort

-Al Jazeera Al Hamra

-Mystery Palace

-Mohammed bin Salim Mosque

Dhayah Fort

      Dhayah Fort

Dhayah Fort in Ras Al Khaimah is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. Positioned amid mountains and date valleys, it offers panoramic views from the oasis to Oman's shores and the sea.

Dhayah Fort, the UAE's sole surviving hill fort, has roots in the Late Bronze Age (1600 – 1300 BC). Built in the 19th century, this golden mud-brick fortress witnessed the pivotal 1819 battle between the British and local Qawasim tribes. Climbing its 239 steps reveals breathtaking views of the date palm gardens, Jebel Jais mountains, and the heart of the Dhayah oasis.

Below, a larger fort housed those from nearby palm gardens during threats. Watchtowers throughout the oasis ensured seamless communication. The fort's 70-metre elevation, surrounded by historic watering systems fed by mountain run-offs, is a testament to ancient engineering. Additionally, 12 significant Wadi Suq tombs, four already excavated, showcase Southeast Arabia's funerary architecture. Plans by Ras Al Khaimah's Department of Antiquities envision an archaeology park encompassing this region.

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Al Jazeera Al Hamra

       Al Jazeera Al Hamra

Pearls, cherished since prehistoric times, have deep roots in the UAE, as evidenced by Neolithic discoveries. Al Jazeera Al Hamra, translating to "Red Island," stands as the Gulf's lone historical pearling village, with others lost to oil's rise.

Boasting traditional elements like forts, watchtowers, mosques, souqs, and a myriad of residences, this village paints a rich tapestry of architectural styles. From modest abodes to opulent merchant mansions, structures utilized indigenous materials, such as coral blocks, mangrove beams, and seashell layers for drainage. Circa 1900, the village sheltered around 500 houses, occupied mainly by the Zaab tribe. Its leader, Sheikh Rajib bin Ahmed Al Zaabi, was a key signatory to the pivotal 1820 treaty with the British.

Historically an island, Al Jazeera Al Hamra hosted the vibrant Zaab tribe with a prolific pearling fleet and livestock. However, the pearl industry's decline in the 1920s marked a shift. Valuable archaeological finds include an ancient 20-domed mosque, captured in 1820s British cartography. With intricate plaster screens, ornate archways, and the signature wind tower or barjeel for passive cooling, the village exemplifies millennia of Middle Eastern architectural evolution. Now on UNESCO's Tentative List, it's a testament to regional town planning.

Yet, the oil boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s saw its inhabitants depart. Today's open-air museum, though rich in history, stands fragile. Visitors are urged to tread carefully, refraining from venturing into unstable buildings. Respect the site's heritage by not removing any items and visiting only during daylight for safety.

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Mystery Palace

     Mystery Palace

Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah is more than just an architectural marvel; it's a place shrouded in legends and mysteries. Constructed by Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi in 1985, the palace is believed to have cost over AED 500 million. Despite its grandeur, with intricate designs reflecting a melange of Islamic, Moroccan, and Persian influences, it remained uninhabited for years, giving rise to tales of eerie occurrences. Local legends whisper that the Sheikh and his wife only spent a single night there, driven out by unexplained paranormal events.

These tales, combined with sightings of spectral children behind stained glass windows, have kept the palace's mysterious aura alive. However, for the curious visitor, the palace now stands open. Inside, they'll find 35 meticulously refurbished rooms, each telling its own story through European chandeliers, immersive murals of distant lands, and cooling marble floors. The palace's crown jewel is its top floor, where a grand glass pyramid lets sunlight cascade through, illuminating the astrological signs gracing the walls below. Amidst its corridors, an eclectic mix of marble statues, animal-themed murals, and antique artefacts can be found, each piece adding to the palace's enigmatic narrative.

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Mohammed bin Salim Mosque

      Mohammed bin Salim Mosque

Archaeological excavations at the site of the Mohammed Bin Salem Mosque unearthed evidence of a previous mosque from the late 18th century. This aligns with historical records that suggest the presence of a mosque here as far back as the 16th century. The 18th-century structure was unfortunately destroyed during the British occupation in 1819/20, but a new mosque was soon erected atop its foundations. Over the years, the mosque has seen several renovations. In recent restoration efforts, contemporary additions were stripped away to reveal and restore its original coral stone and beach rock architecture, which was then coated with layers of traditional plaster.

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Mohammed bin Salim Mosque, Meczet Mohammeda bin Salima
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Desert Safari

       Desert Safari

Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE offers a glimpse into the Arabian Desert, where Bedouin Camps and Desert Villages nestle among rolling dunes. This landscape is painted in vivid shades of flame and terracotta.

 

Bedouin life, dating back to 2500-3000 BC, is a testament to adaptation and resilience in the harsh desert. Their nomadic lifestyle is characterized by portable tents woven from goat, camel, or sheep hair, providing shelter from the desert's extremes.

 

Evenings in the desert resonate with cultural richness. Bedouins recite ancestral poetry, echoing through the dunes, and their traditions include welcoming dances and hospitality, offering guests dates, coffee, and stories.

 

The Bedouin culinary tradition, relying on local staples like goat meat and rice, is prepared using age-old techniques that imbue the food with unique flavors. 

Today's visitors can dive into this rich cultural tapestry with camel rides, sandboarding, and enjoying Bedouin cuisine. The experience is rounded off with modern adventures like 4x4 dune bashing, creating a memorable blend of tradition and excitement.

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A Sawan Camel Racetrack

       Al Sawan Camel Racetrack

In the UAE, camels are not just animals but symbols of Bedouin and Emirati pride, integral to their history for providing meat, milk, wool, leather, and transportation. Their significance extends beyond practicality to cultural realms, notably in camel racing and even in the belief in the medicinal properties of camel urine.

Camel racing in Ras Al Khaimah pays homage to this deep-rooted bond. The camels, chosen from specific breeds like the Mahaliyat, Omniyat,and Sudaniyat from the UAE, Oman, and Sudan, are renowned for their racing prowess, reaching speeds up to 65 km/h. The excitement of race mornings in the Digdaga and Hamraniya areas is palpable, with trainers and owners vying for grand prizes, including luxury cars and cash rewards. The racecourse is a spectacle, with 50 to 100 camels adorned in colorful

tribal blankets, casting long shadows in the early sunlight.

Incorporating modern advancements, the races now feature robot jockeys, equipped with sensors and radios, replacing the traditional young jockeys. This melding of tradition with technology provides trainers with valuable data and adds a contemporary layer to the ancient sport.

 

The races are not just about the camels; alongside the track, 4WDs race, with trainers cheering for their camels, adding to the dynamic and exhilarating atmosphere. Ras Al Khaimah's camel racing is a vivid display of tradition and innovation, offering an unforgettable experience.

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Jebel Jais: Hiking

Jebel Jais: Hiking

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Ras Al Khaimah offers a unique experience with Jebel Jais Mountain peak, standing nearly two kilometers above the Arabian Gulf. This area isn't just known for its breathtaking views but also for its rich history spanning over 70 million years. Jebel Jais, ancient and mysterious,teems with life, from agile mountain goats and majestic eagles to vocal donkeys.

The mountain offers various trails covering 16km, suitable for both novice and seasoned hikers. These trails allow you to explore the diverse ecosystem of the upper and lower mountain regions. However, proper preparation is essential. A good head for heights, decent fitness, and appropriate hiking shoes are crucial for safety.

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Important safety tips include selecting trails that accommodate all group members, being aware of Jebel Jais's unique microclimate, especially in winter, hiking with a companion for emergency support, informing someone about your hiking plans and expected return, staying on marked trails with a map, staying hydrated, and wearing sturdy, grippy footwear and layered clothing for varying temperatures.

 

In summary, Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah is a blend of adventure and natural wonder. With the right preparation and safety measures, it promises to be an exhilarating and memorable hiking experience.

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Sledders

      Jebel Jais: Sledders

The Jais Sledder offers an adrenaline-infused journey, hurtling down the stunning Hajar mountain range. With riders reaching speeds up to 40 kmph, the experience is heightened by the proximity to the ground, making every twist and turn feel even faster. This 1,840-meter descent, filled with hairpin turns and rolling waves, takes about eight thrilling minutes to complete. Each sled, designed to accommodate two riders is equipped with a safety harness, ensuring utmost security. Furthermore, riders have control over the sled's braking system, enhancing the experience's safety and fun.

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Jebel Jais: Viewing Deck

     Jebel Jais: Viewing Deck

The Jebel Jais Viewing Deck Park is a gateway to a world formed over 70 million years ago, offering stark contrasts from moon-like deserts to lush date palm farms. The 30 km climb to the

1,250-meter peak reveals breathtaking views of boulders, craggy terrains, and an ancient mountainrange rich in stories.

 

The roads to the park are a spectacle in themselves, perfect for driving, motorcycling, or cycling,

winding through red landscapes and dramatic cliffs. At the summit, seven viewing decks and 12

binoculars offer panoramic views of the Hajar mountains, dunes, and the Arabian Gulf. The park, committed to sustainability, uses solar energy for its night lighting.

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Jebel Jais: Flight - The Longest Zipline in the world

     Jebel Jais: Flight - The Longest Zipline in the world

Jais Flight, located on Jebel Jais mountain, at 2.83km is the world's longest zipline. It offers an exhilarating experience, flying over rugged terrains and valleys at speeds up to 160 kmph, 1680 metres above the Arabian Gulf. This three-minute journey offers a unique thrill, with speeds ranging between 120 kmph and 160 kmph over dramatic canyons and peaks of RAK.

 

The professional team ensures safety with specialized gear. Participants wear an over-suit and a horizontal harness for a flying sensation. The fastest part of the zipline ends on a glass-bottomed platform, 80 metres above ground, ideal for photos. The adventure concludes with a 1km zipline back to the base.

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Jebel Jais: Sky Tour

      Jebel Jais: Sky Tour

Embark on the Jais Sky Tour, an exhilarating journey across six ziplines, with lengths varying from 337 metres to over a kilometer. Zipping through at an average speed of 60kmph, adventurers get a taste of flight that's not for the weak-hearted. Located at a height of over 1,600 metres, the Jais Sky Tour challenges thrill-seekers with a sequence of ziplines, providing a panoramic view of the vast Hajar Mountain range. While soaring, participants wear harnesses designed to minimize wind resistance, enhancing the flying experience.

Spanning approximately 2 hours, this adventure connects seven platforms via six ziplines. The pinnacle is the sky bridge, suspended 300 metres above the ground.

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Bear Grylls Explorer Camp

       Bear Grylls Explorer Camp

Located in Ras Al Khaimah's mountains, the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp offers adrenaline-packed adventures with survival techniques taught by experts. The camp, inspired by Bear Grylls OBE, equips participants with skills for mountain and desert survival.

 

Designed for individuals, families, or teams, the camp offers challenges based on Bear's survival teachings, with bespoke options for special groups. It focuses on BritishForces' survival tactics, promoting self-rescue methods and pushing limits.

 

Key features include survival courses in Jebel Jais mountains, using Bear's methods. Requirements include one adult and one child (8-17 years). The camp provides rustic accommodations in Jebel Jais, including lodging, meals, and equipment. Completing a course earns a Bear Grylls badge, neck tube, and certificate. Weather affects activities.

 

For less adventurous guests, the camp offers climbing, abseiling, archery, and a ropes course. The Jais Ropes Course is an obstacle maze 10 meters off the ground. Bear Grylls Explorers Camp combines adventure with comfort.

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          Plan your trip

You've made the perfect choice with Ras Al Khaimah, and now we present two distinct 6-day itineraries to fill your days with unmatched experiences. Whether you're drawn to tranquil retreats amidst nature or vibrant adventures that get your heart racing, we have an itinerary tailored for you. Dive deep into the heart of RAK with our carefully crafted plans, or even mix and match to create your unique blend. Explore the options and let us turn your holiday into a series of unforgettable moments. 

Feel free to contact us to help you book your adventures, or head straight to our Daily Explorers site to book it yourself!

6 Days Family Adventure

DAY 1 

Fuel up with a hearty breakfast before launching into an adrenaline-packed day. Test your nerves on our Rope Course, and challenge your physical strength with some Rock Climbing. After a well-earned lunch, plunge into more adventure with abseiling.

DAY 2 

Experience history at Dhayah Fort and learn about traditional palm cultivation at a Date farm. In the afternoon gear up for our exciting Desert Safari. Test your courage with 4x4 dune bashing and sand-boarding, and try out camel riding.Experience an authentic local BBQ dinner, with live cooking and dinner under the stars, while watching local dance performances.

DAY 3 

Embark on a challenging hike up Jebel Jais - the tallest mountain in the UAE. Enjoy a well-earned lunch with breathtaking views and capture some unforgettable memories at the Viewing Platform before bracing yourself for therush of the Jais Sledder.

DAY 4 

Sail the Mussandam on a dhow, exploring the pristine sea and vibrant marine life with a snorkelling session. Amp up the fun with a thrilling speed boat ride and a banana boat experience. Finish the day reminiscing about the day's adventures. (IL) We set off to explore the underwater nature of Fujairah with a snorkelling adventure. After working up an appetite - BBQ lunch. Experience the beauty of

Al Bidya Mosque, followed by the Khor Fakkan Waterfall and Amphitheater. Cap off your sightseeing tour at the picturesque Al Rafisah Dam.

DAY 5 

The day is yours to relax around the pool and enjoy some tasty food and drinks. But if you’re still itching for action, we will happily arrange you some optional activities from our wide selection. / Experience the epitome of luxury and adventure with our exclusive tailored Dubai tours. Dive into a world of opulence as you explore the city's iconic landmarks and hidden gems. Our handpicked itineraries ensure you don't miss a beat,capturing all the "must-see" attractions that Dubai has to offer. Discover Dubai like never before, with the ultimate blend of comfort and excitement.

DAY 6 

Set off on a dramatic 4x4 Mountain tour through the deep gorges and valleys of the exotic Hajar Mountains. Relish a picnic lunch amidst tranquil nature.

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6 Days of Amazing North

DAY 1 

Begin your day exploring a time-honoured historic Fort, a true landmark of the local history, followed by a serene wander through a thriving date farm. Savour a delectable Emirati lunch, a feast of traditional flavours. Conclude your enriching day admiring the timeless elegance of Suwadi Pearls, encapsulating the region's cherished heritage set against a backdrop of beautiful mangroves.

DAY 2 

Delve into history at the RAK National Museum, a wonderful trove of regional heritage. Then, pay a visit to the unusual and oldest Mosque in town, a testament to enduring faith. Take a leisurely stroll along theCorniche, admiring the beautiful mangrove forests. Board an old ABRA boat for a captivating ride through the greenery to Manar Mall. Wrap up your day exploring Heritage Village, an untouched piece of history providing an authentic glimpse into the UAE's past.

DAY 3 

The morning is yours to relax, but in the afternoon gear up for our exciting Desert Safari. Revel in dune bashing, sand-boarding, and try out riding a camel. End the day with a BBQ dinner, with live cooking and local dance performances.

DAY 4 

Sail the Mussandam on a dhow, exploring the pristine sea and vibrant marine life with a snorkelling session. Amp up the fun with a thrilling speed boat ride and a banana boat experience. Finish the day reminiscing about the day's adventures. (IL) We set off to explore the underwater nature of Fujairah with a snorkelling adventure. After working up an appetite - BBQ lunch. Experience the beauty of Al Bidya Mosque, followed by the Khor Fakkan Waterfall and Amphitheater. Cap off your sightseeing tour at the picturesque Al Rafisah Dam.

DAY 5 

Start your day at the mysteroius Palace, ride to Jabal Jais for breathtaking views and lunch at UAE's highest restaurant, and end with a hike and optional sledging for an unforgettable thrill.

DAY 6 

Set off on a dramatic 4x4 Mountain tour through the deep gorges and valleys of the exotic Hajar Mountains. Relish a picnic lunch amidst tranquil nature.

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