Nestled in the heart of the United Arab Emirates visitors will find Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates. Often reduced simply to RAK or RAK City, Ras Al Khaimah has enjoyed developing into one of the tourism hotspots in the region. Thanks to their lack of reliance on oil, His Highness Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi has been focused on developing the social, economic, and cultural development of RAK to continue prospering through these initiatives.
While Ras Al Khaimah may not yet be the headliner when visitors think of the United Arab Emirates, the northern emirate has grown significantly in these areas. Today, we want to take some time to highlight cultural hotspots within Ras Al Khaimah that can provide insight into the region, support for the people there, and information for visitors to cherish.
Cultural Hotspots in Ras Al Khaimah
Planning a trip to Ras Al Khaimah may take a little more preparation than you might have thought. Unlike places like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah can feel almost quaint and quiet as a result. Despite the lack of press attached to RAK, the region has embraced what they have to offer and they’ve prospered as a result. Before you pick up your plane tickets for a trip to RAK, take some time to look further into the following destinations when you land.
1. Shimal – First on our digital itinerary is a trip to the archaeological site of Shimal. Located just eight miles outside of the limits of Ras Al Khaimah, Shimal offers a host of archaeological dig sites that offer insight into the history of the region itself. With hundreds of pre-Islamic tombs in the area dating back to 1300 BC, visitors will feel like they are stepping through the doors of time itself.
Within Shimal, visitors will get to see pottery, weaponry, beads, stone vessels, and crumbling buildings from before the Umm al-Nar period. One particular hotspot to pay attention to is the Shimal Fort which looks out over the area from a rocky outcropping. Bring your camera, some sunscreen, and a pair of sunglasses because you will need them all.
2. Ras Al Khaimah National Museum – There is no better place to learn about a destination than its own national museum. The Ras Al Khaimah National Museum is a must-see destination for visitors to the area. Originally built in 1949 as a fortress for the Al Qasimi family, the building was later renovated and modified to serve as a cultural center for the emirate. The museum is absolutely brimming with ancient relics and artifacts from destinations throughout Ras Al Khaimah.
A bonus visit to the Ras Al Khaimah National Museum is the Bedouin Oasis Camp located just outside of RAK City. Sign up to see some of the histories you experienced at RAK Museum come to life. Dinners, performances, and rides into the desert all are on the menu for this historic and enriching experience.
3. Hajar Mountain Range – If you are beholden to the wonders of nature and the stunning passage of time, you must carve out a day or two to visit the Hajar Mountains. These form the foundation of Ras Al Khaimah’s ancient history as both a natural and glorious wonder as well as a landmark for the area.
Located just half a day’s trip from RAK City, the Hajar Mountains offer a challenging climb for experienced hikers as well as a more relaxing view for those that want to spend time near their hotel or spa. In either situation, make sure that you or your adrenaline-seeking buddies spend time at the Jebel Jais Zipline. This is one of the longest and most impressive ziplines in the world and the view alone is impossible to forget.
4. Jazirat al-Hamra – For our part, there are very few things in life more fascinating than ancient ruins from a life that has passed by. Jazirat al-Hamra is a cultural icon within the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and it is located a decent drive away. Visitors to Jazirat al-Hamra will get to experience one of the most photogenic sightseeing options in the area. These ruins stand upon what once was a lively fishing village where pearl diving was all the rage. At the time, the Emirati people relied upon pearl diving and fishing as one of the foundations of their economy. This was a natural byproduct of not having the same access to oil reserves that much of the rest of the UAE was lucky to find.
As you roam throughout Jazirat al-Hamra, it is impossible to ignore just how displaced by time the destination is. With the right imagination, it is easy to see the place spring to life before your eyes. There is something to be said for seeing how the people of yesteryear lived, even if they only left 60 years ago.
5. Ras Al Khaimah Pearl Museum – As we touched upon above, pearl diving used to be one of the primary motors for the economy of Ras Al Khaimah. The Ras Al Khaimah Pearl Museum is a natural destination for people that want to engage in the true history of the region. The RAK Pearl Museum is located near the Al Qawasim Corniche where visitors can enjoy an excursion into the true history of RAK.
Visitors to the RAK Pearl Museum will enjoy the chance to look at the lives of pearl divers, how pearl farming operated, and what gear was used along the way. Natural pearls are displayed throughout the museum and visitors must take time out of their trip to look at the Miracle of Arabia, a massive 12mm glittery pearl. Make sure to check ahead with the scheduling at the Ras Al Khaimah Pearl Museum to ensure proper access to all the wonders the destination possesses.
As Ras Al Khaimah continues to double down on the importance of tourism and cultural history, more places will become popular destinations. For now, visitors to RAK can use our aforementioned list to guide their journey while inspiring other ideas along the way!