RAK Road Trip
Ras Al Khaimah Travel Blog› entry 12 of 12 › view all entries
On another trip to RAK I decided to explore a bit further on a day off and find out a bit more about Ras al Khaimah. The most northerly of the seven Emirates that make up the UAE. It borders the Mussandam Peninsular which is territory of Oman. With a population of around 300,000 it has in the past been a bit of a poor relation compared with Abu Dhabi,Dubai and even Sharjah.
Ras Al Khaimah has been the site of human habitation for several millennia and there are many historical and archaeological sites throughout the emirate dating from different time periods, including remnants of the Umm Al Nar Civilisation (3rd Millennium BC).
The city was historically known as Julfar. Archaeological evidence has demonstrated that the settlement known as Julfar shifted location over time as harbour channels silted up.
In the early 19th century a British naval force attacked and occupied Ras al Khaimah to put a stop to the powerful hold of the maritime powerful Quwasem tribe. The Quwasem served as a threat to the British imperialism, and endangered the ships in the Indian Ocean.
After British occupation (18 December 1819 - July 1821), Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr al-Qasimi signed in 1822 the General Maritime Treaty with Britain, accepting a protectorate to keep the Ottoman Turks out.
On 11 February 1972, Ras Al Khaimah, under the leadership of Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad al-Qasimi, joined the United Arab Emirates.
To reach RAK nowadays takes only 45 mins (traffic permitting) along the new Emirates highway.Passing through Sharjah which can be a major bottleneck at peak times especially around the infamous National Paints Flyover.
After Sharjah we have the small Emirate of Ajman and the ghost towns along the highway which were victims of the economic crisis.Expecting the boom years to continue investors began to build appartment blocks and villas and offer them at cheaper prices than in Dubai expecting a rush of commuters. Very little progress has occured in the last 2 years and the developements now stand as monuments to greed and folly.
After Ajman we bypass the emirate of Um al Quwain which is probably just as well as it is a one horse sort of town with not a great deal to recommend it apart from the Barracuda resort for cheap beer and Aqualand water park.
Entering the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah along the old beach road we pass the Al Hamra Fort Hotel which is where my appartment is being built. The project has been delayd but is now approaching completion I'm glad to say.
Ras al-Khaimah is not a major oil producer, so it has focussed on developing its industrial sector. 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 Ras al-Khaimah Ceramics, which has become the world's largest ceramics producer, and Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar), the Persian Gulf region's first pharmaceuticals company. It is trying to emerge as an investment destination through the govt owned investment company.