The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, located at the northern end of UAE on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, is nestled between the Hajjar Mountains on the East and the Arabian Gulf on the West and shares mountainous borders with the Sultanate of Oman. Ras Al Khaimah literally means “top of the tent”. Positioned near the Straits of Hormuz, the capital city is also called Ras Al Khaimah and is also the home of most residents.
It borders the Emirates of Umm-Al-Quwain, Sharjah and Fujairah and shares two borders with the Sultanate of Oman in the South and North-East. Ras Al Khaimah RAK is the fourth-largest emirate, occupying 2478 sq.km. Its landscape is quite varied compared to the rest of the country. It boasts some 65 km of coastline along the Gulf and fertile plains, as well as the great Hajjar mountains, which reaches heights of up to 1900 meters. Ras Al Khaimah is located between 25 and 26 degrees Latitude and 55 and 60 degrees Longitude. The time zone in Ras Al Khaimah is GMT + 4.00 hours.
Ras Al Khaimah enjoys a moderate, cool and refreshing climate for 8 months of the year from October to May. The other four months of summer are hot and humid. Basically it is sunny all the way. Visitors will encounter no major concerns of rains. October to March is very pleasant. April to May is bearable. From June onwards, the mercury starts soaring. While it is usually hot and humid during July and August and come September the heat starts slowing down again. There is also a minimal rainfall that occurs seasonally.
Ras Al Khaimah is well connected by air through the RAK Airport (about 18KM from the city), Dubai International Airport (about 80KM) and Sharjah International Airport (about 70KM). All major airlines in the world operate to either of these airports. Ras Al Khaimah is also connected by land routes with the other Emirates by a network of good roads that pass through a varied landscape.
His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi is the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. He has steered the emirate through a shifting political and economic landscape, leading it towards a prominent position within the UAE and further. He began the transition from a subsistence economy, centered on fishing and agriculture, to one that attracted high capital investment in the industrial sector in the UAE.
Sustained growth and wealth creation has continued over the past few years. Although RAK does not have the abundance of hydrocarbons as some of its UAE neighbors and in the region, it has established itself as a robust economy with an increasingly diversified base
The official language of the UAE is Arabic, although English is widely used in business circles. A significant portion of the expatriate population also speaks Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam, Tamil and other languages of the subcontinent.
RAK’s natural resources include gas reserves and oil reserves. RAK also boasts the largest rock quarry in the Gulf and has been blessed with high-quality limestone and clay deposits, which underpin the emirate’s successful cement and ceramics industries. In addition to this, the fertile plains in the south-east around Digdaga produce fruits and vegetables as well as milk and poultry for the local UAE market
RAK has concentrated on developing its industrial sector as it does not have much of oil reserves. It opened the UAE’s first cement company in the early 1970s and is now the UAE’s largest producer of cement. In the 1980s, the emirate formed RAK Ceramics, which has become the world’s largest ceramics producer, and Julphar, the Gulf region’s first pharmaceuticals company.
Also the first medical supplies company in the Gulf, Julphar has developed into a global brand and now sells its products, which meet the rigorous US Food and Drug Administration and European Commission guidelines, to almost 50 countries.
More traditional industries, such as fishing and agriculture, continue to play an important role in RAK’s economy. In 1955, the first agricultural research center in the UAE was established there, and since then, innovative methods of arid zone cultivation have made the emirate one of the leading agricultural producers in the UAE. Recent efforts have been setting up the Institute of Advanced Technology, a premier institution for research and development that will significantly boost industries in RAK.
The emirate has embarked on an aggressive development programmes, with a particular focus on tourism and real estate. Capitalizing on its virgin coastline and mountains, RAK has launched several mixed-use projects that will feature five-star hotels, residential units and resorts.
Ras Al Khaimah is a truly blessed tourist spot. Its miles of unspoiled coastline abut the majestic Hajjar Mountain range. Further south is a lush stretch of date palms and vegetable gardens and then starts the virgin desert with its abundance of wildlife. Ras Al Khaimah has always been a getaway from the congestion, hustle bustle and skyscrapers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It has been a secret oasis for the calm and peace seeking tourist. A complete range of tourist spots includes the natural hot springs of Khatt, the breathtaking landscape and experience afforded on a mountain trek, or a selection of exclusive seaside resorts, RAK offers an abundance of intriguing leisure opportunities close by with a focus on nature tourism, outdoor adventure sports, and other ecological and nature activities that are available throughout the year.
Ras Al Khaimah is famous of its historical ancient monuments that are linked historically to many events in the region, and played an important role in formulating its development and future. For example, you can visit RAK ancient fortresses and castles, such as Al Dayah fortresses, Al Zabbaa’ Palace, Julphar city and Julphar Valley ancient ruins. The city also contains guard towers on the coastal strip and adds to that old houses and villages based on the cultural features of the old format, which reflects the originality as the land and people
Different tourist spots in RAK include
- The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah: housed in the former palace of the ruling Al Qawasim family, it has exhibits on natural history, arts and crafts of the past centuries, and archaeology.
- Dhayah Fort: the only surviving hilltop fort in the UAE.
- Shamal and Sheeba´s Palace: tombs and ruins of a medieval palace.
- Al Falayah: the former summer residence of the ruling Al Qawasim family.
- Jazirat Al Hamra: an abandoned ‘ghost town’ showing the architecture of earlier decades.
- The Old City and Souq: an opportunity to see both traditional and modern shops as well as artisan’s workshops
Awafi festival: It is three week event held in December or January month with the main attraction is the dramatic sand dune drives by the strongest 4-wheel drives of the UAE, there are many other reasons to visit Al Awafi. A heritage village with traditional food and dance will open on the festival, as well as shops for food and souvenirs. For the children, a petting zoo and lots of games are available. The entry is free of charge, and many families are bringing picnics to enjoy whilst watching the cars battling it out over the sand dunes.
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