With over 7,000 years of fascinating history, traditions and culture, the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (just 45 minutes from Dubai) offers an authentic and easily accessible Arab experience. Ras Al Khaimah is a nature-driven destination with sprawling deserts, beaches and stunning mountain scenery and is one of the seven emirates that together make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
If you’re planning a trip, here’s our pick of the top 8 things to see and do.
Experience thrills and adventure on Jebel Jais
Due to its geographic location at the northern end of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah is literally translated as “top of the tent” and was originally known as “Julfar”. In the far north, the emirate borders the Sultanate of Oman, where the steep rocky slopes of Hajar Mountain appear to rise out of the sea.
Jebel Jais, in this mountain range, is the highest peak in the United Arab Emirates at 1,934 meters (almost 2 km) and is home to a series of exciting and enduring adventure projects.
The most important of these is the Jebel Jais zipline flight: the longest zipline in the world at 2.83 km (equivalent to over 28 football fields). It is located at the top of Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the United Arab Emirates.
Introduced in 2018, zip lines fly in the sky at a height of 1,680 meters above sea level, reaching speeds of 120 km / h to 150 km / h).
Book the Zipline Experience on Jebel Jais Flight from Â£ 107.00
Full disclosure, I bottled myself up to do the zipline but judging by the smiles and euphoria from the adrenaline junkies I met who had just completed the flight, this is the highlight for many. a trip to Ras Al Khaimah.
I enjoyed the ride along the winding road that winds up the mountain offering views of barren, eroded cliffs and deep canyons at every turn, the Jais Viewing Deck Park being the perfect place to go. stop and relax, to take some photos of the view and instead admire the daredevils taking the Jebel Jais flight.
The Jais Zipline Sky Tour offers an alternate experience, covering a total distance of 5 km via a series of 6 ziplines in the more traditional zipline seated position as opposed to the superman pose adopted in the Jais flight.
Dinner at 1484 meters
1484 by Puro, a unique restaurant offering a magnificent panorama of Jebel Jais and its otherworldly landscape is named after its height above sea level – 1,484 meters.
The UAE’s highest restaurant offers an exciting Mediterranean menu including fresh burrata, grilled salmon, seared sea bass and juicy burgers served in a sleek, modern interior and outdoor patio. It overlooks the Hajar Mountains and I came for the view but was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food served.
This is not a normal tourist trap restaurant paired with an attraction with mediocre overpriced food, but a dining experience worthy of a visit on its own. I dined on succulent and fiery wasabi tempura shrimp, with the traditional sticky caramel pudding at the end of the meal being particularly memorable. The food alone was Instagram worthy, but there are plenty of other photo opportunities with the views, including a peek through the board (with the mountain view in the background) highlighting as you stand 1,484 meters away.
Reconnect with nature at Bear Grylls Explorer Camp
The Bear Grylls Explorers Camp made its regional debut in Jebel Jais, offering the world’s first Bear Grylls branded accommodation. The 16 recycled lodges have been designed to accommodate up to three adults or two adults and one child with independent facilities.
The camp offers a variety of courses developed by Bear Grylls, putting participants face to face with some of the most challenging terrain in the wilderness. They receive hands-on training and extreme survival skills. In addition to spending the night in a Bear Grylls hut, guests can try their hand at mountain biking, archery, hiking and abseiling as well as the Jebel Jais via ferrata or mountain course. ropes – a self-guided two-level adventure, 10 meters above the ground.
It was here that I spent a morning walking through the rugged, rocky and mountainous landscape. Bear Grylls mantra is to challenge yourself and prove that you can do anything #NeverGiveUp and with that in mind I challenged myself to reach the top of the mountain to rappelling down.
I didn’t really have a choice as it was the only way down. However, I knew I was in good hands as my lovely Indian guide who trusted me was part of the first Indian team to climb Everest. Rappelling for the first time was an intimidating prospect (it’s a peculiar but exhilarating experience as you lean back, facing the boulder, to slowly lower yourself) but above all the challenge was fun and rewarding.
Dune bash in the desert and barbecue
Enjoy a thrilling 4×4 experience through the desert, scaling sand dunes, often at a 45 degree angle.
Dunes Safari and Camping offers this unique Arabian Desert experience, followed by a short camel ride, sandboarding, barbecue dinner, tanoura (an Egyptian folk dance) and dance performances belly.
Book this Afternoon Desert Safari Tour & BBQ Dinner From Â£ 45.95
History and culture
With a rich history dating back to the Bronze Age, Ras Al Khaimah is dotted with historic sites including ruins and forts. Built in the mid-18th century during the Persian invasion of the emirate, the Ras Al Khaimah National Museum was originally the home of the royal family until 1964.
In 1987, the late Sheikh Al Qasimi opened the museum which includes a collection of archaeological and ethnological objects. There is also a beautiful wind tower which dominates a pleasantly shaded courtyard inside.
Another interesting place to explore is Jazirat Al Hamra, an abandoned coastal village occupied since the 16th century and abandoned almost 40 years ago. The villagers who lived here mainly engaged in fishing and the pearl trade.
The museum and Jazirat Al Hamra are included in a city tour and although the mountains, adventure possibilities and the beach are the main draw in Ras Al Khaimah, it is always worth taking a stroll through the souks in the city. , admire the pearly white mosques and stroll along the ledge. My visit was a few days before the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, so the city looked especially cheerful with hundreds of green, white, black and red Emirati flags fluttering in the breeze.
Learn more about the history of Pearl Diving
Suwaidi Pearls Farm was established in 2005 by prominent Emirati Abdulla Al Suwaidi (grandson of a commercial pearl diver) and is the first farm of its kind in the Gulf region. The farm cultivates the Gulf Pearl Oyster, using locally sourced mollusks that live in the natural cove of Al Rams, a small town in Ras Al Khaimah and once a community of fishermen and pearl fishermen.
You are taken to the farm (a floating platform), through traditional dhow mangroves where you learn the history of pearl diving, explore a pearl dive boat, learn how to properly open an oyster and if your budget allows you to buy jewelry. It was a fascinating excursion, but what remained in my mind the most was that the pearl divers of yesteryear had to do at least 100 dives to find a single pearl. Without glasses, they would see underwater with one eye, shielding the other eye with their hand, and therefore, tragically, much later in life would become blind.
Relax on the beach
Soak up the bright sunshine all year round on one of the best beaches in the UAE. Located on the west coast of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah’s 64 kilometers of coastline offers stunning sandy beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, and a more relaxed and low-key vibe than its neighbors.
Most vacationers (myself included) stick to the beach at their resort hotel. The long shore is dotted with luxury resorts all offering their own private golden sand beaches.
I stayed at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Beach Resort, where the one mile of private white sand beach was swept daily and spotlessly clean. I’m not the type to love the waves and enjoyed the calm waters and the soft, kid-friendly shoreline.
And finally, things to look forward to
As an emerging tourist destination, Ras Al Khaimah has a large number of new hotels, desert camps, glamping experiences and attractions that are expected to open within the next two years, including Jais Wings, a paragliding experience from the top of Jebel. I have landing areas near the Saraya and Al Rams Islands; Jais Swing, an instagrammable twin ropes swing with stunning views, and the Jais Sledder, the region’s longest toboggan run that spans 1,840 meters.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit Ral Al Khaimah Click here
PACKAGE: Tui offers vacations to Ras Al Kkahimah from Â£ 603 per person. Click here to view their offers.