Though the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a relatively new country – having only formed in 1971 – its history dates back to the Neolithic Age. For those interested in history, Ras Al Khaimah has an impressive archaeological heritage and rich cultural past.
Due to its unique topography—its landscape ranges from mountains, beaches, mangroves and desert—Ras Al Khaimah’s had an advanced trading civilization at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf. The region has had continuous settlers for over 7,000 years and was—and still is—an important epicenter for trade.
Today, travelers to Ras Al Khaimah have a variety of options to explore the historic and cultural side of this emirate.
Suwaidi Pearl Farm
The pearl industry was thriving in the 12th century and quickly became one of the busiest trading ports in the United Arab Emirates. Even today, pearl fishing is still revered as one of the UAE’s treasured traditions with communities of men diving for exotic pearls. Visitors can visit the Suwaidi Pearls Farm in Al Rams, the northernmost region of Ras Al Khaimah and learn more about the history and culture significant of pearl farming and why Ras Al Khaimah is fondly referred to as ‘the pearl of the Emirates’.
Al Jazirah Al Hamra
Since prehistoric times, pearls have played an essential role in people’s lives; many have been discovered in Neolithic sites across the UAE. Al Jazirah Al Hamra is the only remaining historical pearling village in the entire Gulf region; the rest were demolished with the discovery of oil. The open-air museums allow visitors to see how the buildings were made using local materials such as coral blocks and fossilized beach rock, mangrove tree beams, date palm trunks, roofing, matting and ropes and layers of seashells for drainage.
Dhayah Fort is a castle-like structure that stands almost 300 feet high and sits with the Jebel Jais mountains as a backdrop amid the fertile date wadis of northern Ras Al Khaimah. It’s the only fort remaining in the United Arab Emirates. It was once the residence of the ruling sheik.
The fort dates back to 1300 BC when locals used it for settlement and fortification. The twin-peaked golden mud-brick fortress was built during the 19th century and restored in the late 1990s. The structure is an important historical monument because this is where the 1819 battle between British troops and local Qawasim tribes took place. The views from the top are worth the climb to get there.
At the base of the fort lies 12 large Wadi Suq tombs that date back to 2,000 BC. Four of the tombs have already been excavated to reveal impressive Southeast Arabia funerary structures. Ras Al Khaimah Department of Antiquities and Museums intends to turn this entire area into an archaeology park.