Ras Al Khaimah Area Guide 2024

Dictricts Ras Al Khaimah Area Guide 2024
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~16 min
01/26/2024
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Introduction

Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), known as "headland of the tent" in English, stands as one of the seven emirates that collectively form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This emirate, located in the northernmost part of the UAE, boasts a rich tapestry of history and cultural significance. The city of Ras Al Khaimah, often abbreviated as RAK or RAK City, serves as the vibrant capital and the primary residence for the majority of the emirate's inhabitants.

Nestled on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Ras Al Khaimah is intricately linked to the historic Islamic trading port of Julfar, underscoring its heritage as a pivotal center for commerce and exchange. The very name "Ras Al Khaimah" reflects its geographical essence, translating to "headland of the tent." This emirate shares borders with Oman's Musandam exclave, occupying part of the same peninsula and encompassing an area of 2,486 square kilometers with an impressive 64 kilometers of pristine beach coastline.

History of Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah stands as a testament to the endurance of human civilization, with a history that spans an impressive 7,000 years. This enduring habitation sets it apart as one of the rare places globally where such continuous human presence can be traced. Throughout the emirate, a wealth of historical and archaeological sites, estimated at around 1,000 according to local sources, offers glimpses into different epochs, including remnants from the Umm Al Nar Culture dating back to the 3rd millennium BC. Notable among these findings is the area of Shimal, which encompasses both Umm Al Nar and Wadi Suq burials. An intriguing discovery in Shimal included a grave holding no fewer than 18 finely crafted bronze arrowheads, providing insights into the craftsmanship and practices of ancient inhabitants.

In the annals of Ras Al Khaimah's history, one pivotal moment that resonates is the joining of the emirate into the United Arab Emirates on 10 February 1972. Under the leadership of Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qasimi, this decision marked a strategic move in response to the Iranian seizure of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. This historic event solidified Ras Al Khaimah's commitment to a unified nation, contributing to the formation and cohesion of the UAE.

In a testament to its commitment to understanding and preserving its rich heritage, Ras Al Khaimah's Antiquities and Museums Department partnered with the University of South Alabama and Quinnipiac University in 2020. This collaboration aimed to study 4,000-year-old human remains discovered in Shimal. Such initiatives underscore the emirate's dedication to unraveling the mysteries of its past, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of its evolution over time.

Geography and Environment

Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), the fourth-largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, encompasses an expansive landscape covering 2478 square kilometers. The emirate's physical layout is notably diverse, distinguishing itself from other regions in the country. RAK's topography features approximately 65 kilometers of picturesque coastline along the Gulf, fertile plains contributing to its agricultural richness, and the majestic Hajar Mountains, soaring to heights of up to 1900 meters.

The climate in Ras Al Khaimah is characterized by its desert classification, reflecting a hot and arid environment. The emirate experiences scorching summers and mild winters, with an average temperature ranging from 12 to 25 °C (54 to 77 °F) in January and 29 to 43 °C (84 to 109 °F) in July. Despite these averages, temperatures can often surge to 45 °C during the summer, with the highest recorded temperature standing at a sweltering 48.8 °C (119.8 °F). Humidity tends to be high during the summer months, contributing to the overall heat index.

What sets Ras Al Khaimah apart is not only its diverse landscape but also the occurrence of rare climatic phenomena. The Hajar Mountains, a prominent feature, stand as a distinctive geographical element, providing a striking contrast to the coastal plains. The highest peak in the UAE, Jebel Jais, located in Ras Al Khaimah, offers a unique and elevated experience. Remarkably, temperatures at the peak of Jebel Jais have been known to plummet as low as −5 °C (23 °F), showcasing the extreme climatic variations within the emirate. Notably, snowfall has been reported in select years, such as December 2004, January 2009, and February 2017, adding a touch of extraordinary beauty to the high mountains of Ras Al Khaimah.

Towns and settlements

  • Ras Al Khaimah City. The largest city and capital of the emirate, Ras Al Khaimah City, is divided into two main areas— the Old Town and Nakheel. Situated on either side of a creek adorned with mangroves and framed by the North-Western Hajar Mountains, the city is a vibrant hub showcasing the diverse geography of the emirate.

  • Al Jazirah Al Hamra. An old coastal town, Al Jazirah Al Hamra is home to the Al Hamra Village development and features an industrial zone. This area reflects a blend of historical coastal charm and modern developments.

  • Rams. A coastal town with a rich history, Rams was once a typical fishing and pearl-diving community. Today, it echoes the emirate's maritime heritage while embracing contemporary progress.

  • Khor Khwair. An industrial zone, Khor Khwair boasts the largest bulk-handling port in the Middle East. This area is a key player in the economic landscape of Ras Al Khaimah, housing various companies including a cement factory.

  • Diqdaqah. This village is known for its agricultural activities, contributing to Ras Al Khaimah's reputation for having the most fertile soil in the country. Agriculture thrives here, thanks to a larger share of rainfall and underground water streams from the Hajar Mountains.

  • Khatt. Nestled amidst mountains, Khatt is a village renowned for its thermal springs and palm gardens. The natural features of Khatt make it a distinctive settlement within the emirate.

  • Masafi. Positioned in the south on the border with Fujairah, Masafi is well-known for being a major supplier of bottled drinking water. This town plays a crucial role in the region's water supply and trade.

  • Huwaylat. A central village in the southern part of Ras Al Khaimah, Huwaylat is a community contributing to the emirate's cultural and geographical diversity.

Key Attractions

  1. The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah. Housed in the former palace of the ruling Al Qasimi family, this museum offers a captivating journey through the emirate's history. Exhibits cover natural history, arts and crafts from previous centuries, and archaeological treasures.

  2. Dhayah Fort. Standing as the highest hilltop fort in the UAE, Dhayah Fort holds historical significance as the last outpost of resistance to the British in 1819. The fort provides panoramic views and a glimpse into the emirate's resilient past.

  3. Sheba's Palace. Explore the ruins of a medieval palace, Sheba's Palace, and immerse yourself in the remnants of a bygone era. The site adds a layer of historical mystery to Ras Al Khaimah's cultural tapestry.

  4. Al Falayah Fort. Once the summer residence of the ruling Al Qasimi family, Al Falayah Fort is a testament to the emirate's architectural heritage. Its distinctive design and historical importance make it a noteworthy attraction.

  5. Al Jazirah Al Hamra. Step into an abandoned "ghost town" that preserves the architecture of a 20th-century pearling port. Al Jazirah Al Hamra offers a unique glimpse into the emirate's maritime history.

  6. The Old City and Souq. Wander through both traditional and modern shops, as well as artisans' workshops, in the Old City and Souq. This bustling area showcases the vibrant blend of Ras Al Khaimah's past and present.

Tips for visiting include

  • Best Time to Visit. Consider visiting during the cooler months, from November to March, to enjoy outdoor attractions comfortably.

  • Ticket Information. Check the official websites or local tourism offices for updated ticket prices and information for specific attractions.

Culture and Lifestyle

Ras Al Khaimah, like the rest of the UAE, is deeply rooted in Islamic and traditional Arab culture. This influence permeates various aspects of daily life, shaping architecture, music, attire, cuisine, and overall lifestyle. The cultural fabric reflects a harmonious blend of contemporary living and time-honored traditions.

Noteworthy Local Customs or Practices

  1. Islamic Call to Prayer. Five times a day, the melodious call to prayer resonates from the minarets of mosques scattered across Ras Al Khaimah. This sacred tradition underscores the significance of Islam in the daily lives of the residents.

  2. Weekend Observance. Since 2006, the weekend in Ras Al Khaimah follows a unique schedule, spanning Friday and Saturday. This arrangement serves as a compromise, respecting Friday's holiness to Muslims while aligning with the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.

  3. Diverse Population. Ras Al Khaimah is home to a predominantly non-national population, with residents hailing from India, Pakistan, and various nations worldwide. This diversity adds a rich tapestry of cultures and perspectives, contributing to the cosmopolitan essence of the emirate.

Education

  1. Ras Al Khaimah Academy is a prominent educational institution situated in the emirate, providing a comprehensive and globally recognized curriculum.

  2. St. Mary Private High School is another notable educational establishment contributing to the educational landscape of Ras Al Khaimah. Its location enhances accessibility for students in the emirate.

  3. British School Khuzam stands as a beacon of quality education in Ras Al Khaimah, located strategically to cater to the educational needs of the local community.

  4. GEMS Westminster School is a renowned educational institution in Ras Al Khaimah, offering high-quality education. Its strategic location facilitates easy access for students across the emirate.

  5. Scholars Indian School is a distinguished educational entity in Ras Al Khaimah, providing an enriching learning environment. Its location ensures convenience for students and parents within the emirate.

Medical Facilities

Ras Al Khaimah is equipped with several reputable medical facilities that cater to the healthcare needs of residents and visitors. RAK Hospital stands out as a prominent healthcare institution, offering a comprehensive range of medical services. With a focus on quality healthcare, RAK Hospital plays a vital role in providing advanced medical treatments and facilities within the emirate.

In addition to RAK Hospital, Al Alfa Medical Centre and NMC Royal Medical Centre contribute significantly to the healthcare landscape in Ras Al Khaimah. These medical centers are trusted names known for delivering high-quality medical care. NMC Royal Medical Centre, in particular, stands as one of the oldest and most trusted healthcare providers in the city, offering a wide array of medical services to the community. Moreover, Al Hayat Dental Clinic complements these facilities by specializing in dental care, ensuring comprehensive healthcare coverage for the residents of Ras Al Khaimah. Together, these medical establishments contribute to the well-being of the community by providing accessible and reliable healthcare services.

Transportation

In Ras Al Khaimah city, the primary mode of public transport is the availability of metered taxis, providing convenient and flexible travel options for residents and visitors. Public buses operate on long-haul routes, connecting the city to smaller towns such as Sha`am, Rams, and Al Jazirah Al Hamra. Additionally, a local bus service, managed by the RAK Transport Authority, offers infrequent connections between Nakheel, Al Hamra, and the airport.

Tips for navigating the area include:

  1. Taxis and Buses to Other Emirates. Ras Al Khaimah is well-connected to other emirates through taxis and buses departing from the Bus station located at the RAK Transport Authority Headquarters, near the new Ras Al Khaimah Police Headquarters and opposite the Cove Rotana hotel.

  2. Key Highways. The main highways linking Ras Al Khaimah to other emirates include Mohammed bin Zayed Road (E311) and Emirates Road (E611). These well-maintained highways facilitate efficient travel from Ras Al Khaimah to Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Sharjah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. The journey from Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai takes under 45 minutes.

  3. Ras Al Khaimah International Airport (RKT). The airport serves as a vital transportation hub, offering cargo and passenger services to a diverse range of destinations covering the Middle East, North & East Africa, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and Europe (specifically Luxembourg).

Special Events

  1. Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon. An annual event since 2007, the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon has gained global recognition. It has witnessed remarkable achievements, including world records and exceptional performances by elite athletes. The marathon attracts participants and spectators alike, showcasing the emirate's commitment to sports excellence. The Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon usually takes place annually, drawing world-class runners and enthusiasts to compete in a challenging course.

  2. UAE Awafi Festival. The UAE Awafi Festival is a cultural and heritage celebration set in the Ras Al Khaimah desert. Lasting for three weeks in December or January, the festival features a range of activities, including a sand dune race, a heritage village with traditional food and dance, and vibrant marketplaces for food and souvenirs. Annually, in December or January, the UAE Awafi Festival brings together locals and visitors to experience the rich heritage and traditions of Ras Al Khaimah.

  3. Terry Fox Run RAK. The Terry Fox Run RAK is a yearly charity run in Ras Al Khaimah dedicated to supporting cancer research in the UAE. Launched in 2010, the event has seen significant growth in participation, with thousands of runners joining each year. Held annually, the Terry Fox Run RAK provides a platform for the community to contribute to a meaningful cause while promoting health and wellness.

  4. UAE National Day Celebrations. Ras Al Khaimah marks the United Arab Emirates' National Day with a series of events, including an air show by the Fursan Al Emarat aerobatics team and a free concert featuring renowned singers from the Arab world. The celebrations showcase national pride and unity. Each year, the United Arab Emirates' National Day is commemorated with enthusiasm, reinforcing the spirit of patriotism and togetherness.

Practical Information

  1. Currency. The official currency is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED).

  2. Language. Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken and understood.

  3. Time Zone. Ras Al Khaimah operates on Gulf Standard Time (GST), which is UTC+4.

  4. Local Customs. It is important to be mindful of local customs and traditions. Modest dress is appreciated in public areas.

  5. Weather. Ras Al Khaimah has a desert climate, with hot summers and mild winters. Visitors should be prepared for high temperatures, especially in the summer.

Safety Considerations and Emergency Contact Information

  1. Emergency Numbers:

    • Police: 999

    • Ambulance: 998

    • Fire Department: 997

  2. Health and Safety. Ras Al Khaimah has well-equipped medical facilities. It is advisable to have comprehensive travel insurance covering healthcare.

  3. Traveling Around. Public transportation, including taxis, is generally safe. Follow local regulations and exercise normal precautions.

  4. Local Laws. Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations, including rules about alcohol consumption and public behavior.

  5. Natural Hazards. Be aware of weather conditions, especially during sandstorms, and follow local advisories.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Ras Al Khaimah stands as a multifaceted gem within the United Arab Emirates, blending rich history, natural beauty, and modern allure. From the historic sites of Jazirat Al Hamra to the adventurous thrills of the Jais Sky Tour, this emirate caters to a diverse range of interests.

The welcoming atmosphere, coupled with the iconic Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the serene Al Marjan Island, encapsulates the perfect blend of tradition and modernity. As the ruling family oversees the development of industrial areas and the flourishing entertainment scene, Ras Al Khaimah emerges as a destination that caters to both business and leisure. Whether you're planning a trip, a dinner overlooking the coast, or a venture into the adventurous attractions, Ras Al Khaimah promises an experience that resonates with the spirit of recent years.

FAQ

  • 1.

    How many areas are there in Ras Al Khaimah?

    Ras Al Khaimah is divided into several areas, with its capital being the city of Ras Al Khaimah. The city itself is split into two parts by the coastal water inlet known as RAK Khor. The western section is known as Ras Al Khaimah city. Additionally, the eastern section consists of several districts, including Oraibi, Al Nakheel, Al Hudayba, Al Maereed, Al Maa’moura, Golan, and Shaa’biat Rashid. The two sections of the emirate are connected by a bridge, facilitating travel and connectivity between the different areas of Ras Al Khaimah.

  • 2.

    What is the population of Ras Al Khaimah?

    As of 2015, the estimated total population of Ras Al Khaimah was about 345,000 people. This population includes both Emiratis and expatriates living in the emirate. It's important to note that population figures may have changed since then due to factors such as natural growth, migration, and other demographic factors.

  • 3.

    What is the largest city of Ras Al Khaimah?

    The largest city in Ras Al Khaimah is Ras Al Khaimah City itself. It serves as the capital of the emirate and is divided into two parts by the coastal water inlet known as RAK Khor. The western section is known as Ras Al Khaimah City, and it is a significant urban center within the emirate

  • 4.

    What's the best time to visit Ras Al Khaimah?

    The ideal time to visit Ras Al Khaimah is from October to April when the weather is pleasant. Avoid the hot summer months for outdoor activities. September marks the Awafi Festival, offering a unique cultural experience, while December hosts the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon and other events.

  • 5.

    What cultural experiences does Ras Al Khaimah offer?

    Immerse yourself in the rich culture of Ras Al Khaimah by visiting historical sites like Jazirat Al Hamra, exploring the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, and strolling through the Old City and Souq. The National Museum provides insights into the emirate's heritage.

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Creation date:
Update date: 02/14/2024