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Ras Al-Khaimah - A Fascinating Corner of the UAE
Visitors to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seem to gravitate towards Dubai or Abu Dhabi, leaving the pristine waters and rugged mountains of smaller Ras Al-Khaimah surprisingly less travelled. If you’re prepared to go the extra mile and leave these major city hubs for an entirely different emirate altogether, you will be rewarded. In Ras Al-Khaimah, often abbreviated to RAK, you lose the glamour, glitz, and towers of glass and steel. It’s easy to notice the amazing natural world that surrounds the city, and you still get the luxury hotels and resorts that the UAE is famous for.
Explore the Historic Old City of Ras Al-Khaimah
Wedged in between the Persian Gulf and a calm inland creek lies the origins of Ras Al-Khaimah, the old city from which this settlement first grew. Much of the area has been modernised now, home to many resorts, hotels, and shops, but wandering around this district with a few choice spots on your list will reveal much about the history of RAK. Your first stop should be the Museum of Ras Al-Khaimah, and part of this coral stone building dates back to the early 19th century. Here you can find out about the heritage of the city and explore the galleries full of artefacts. Next stop should be the Shaikh Zayed Mosque, an ornate house of religion, with a white dome and tall thin towers. To reach this mosque from the museum, pass the Shell Roundabout, a landmark dedicated to the city’s pearl diving heritage, to reach the waterside path through the parkland of the RAK Corniche.
Watch a Camel Race or Ride One Yourself!
A quintessential Arabic pastime you simply have to cross off your list is a visit to Al Sawan Camel Track on race day. Locals arrive at the crack of dawn with their camels and racing starts in the early hours. Picture a track with a line of camels charging along it, with robotic devices on their back whipping them, and their owners throttling after their prized animal in their chunky SUV. That’s camel racing in Ras Al-Khaimah! If you’re brave enough to get yourself on top of a camel and ride it then most hotels and resorts in RAK can arrange that for you, whether it’s just a trot along the beach or a day-long expedition. A great experience is to head out into the desert to visit a Bedouin camp village, where you could stay instead of a hotel. Here you can practice using this traditional form of transportation and immerse yourself in ancient nomadic culture.
Head Outdoors for Exhilarating Activities
Outside of the main city of Ras Al-Khaimah lies huge opportunities for adventure sports and adrenaline pumping activities. To get started you have to try dune bashing, a pursuit unique to the desert, and it goes a little something like this. You hop aboard a 4X4 which is then raced through huge rolling sand dunes, inducing a feeling much like riding a roller coaster! It’s not for the faint of heart and make sure you trust your driver before heading off! If you want to get behind some handlebars then a quad biking adventure in the Awafi desert area can be great fun. For those of you that want to take to the skies, just south of RAK city is the Al Jazira Aviation Club, where microlight flights are available. Soar high above the mountains and sea to get the best view of the natural wonders in this amazing part of the United Arab Emirates.
Cool Off at the Ice Land Water Park
There’s no denying that it’s hot in Ras Al-Khaimah, with April to October providing sweltering temperatures that make even a short walk outdoors a sweaty affair. When the mercury soars, you need a way to stay refreshed and entertained, with one place in RAK providing just that. The Ice Land Water Park is perfect for all ages, a huge complex that ranks as one of the largest water parks in the country. More than 30 different water slides to try out, plus an enormous wave pool and beautiful artificial beach, this place has to be seen to be believed. The entire water park covers an area in excess of 100,000 square metres, and it even has its own beachfront campsite if you want to give up your hotel bed and stay for the night! If the excitement all gets a bit too much for you, take advantage of the luxury cabanas and put your feet up in style.