Ras Al-Khaimah is many Dubai locals’ top escape from the city. The United Arab Emirates’ most northern region, Ras Al-Khaimah is backed by the mighty Hajar Mountains, which roll down to the shore dramatically, making this a great base for exploring and sightseeing in a rugged area. Historically, this region is very important, with archaeological excavations here revealing that this area has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC. The Ras Al-Khaimah National Museum does an excellent job of explaining this long-reaching history.

Although much of the city is modern, the wonderfully atmospheric Jazirat al-Hamra area is a major tourist attraction as it gives a taste of the peaceful Emirati life of the pearl divers and fishermen before the mid-20th-century oil boom

 

Ras Al-Khaimah National Museum:

The Ras Al-Khaimah National Museum is in a fort that was the residence of the ruling family up until the early 1960s. The museum houses an excellent collection of archaeological and ethnological artifacts. The Qawasim Room on the first floor is particularly interesting, with a collection of documents, manuscripts, and treaties between the rulers of Ras Al-Khaimah and Great Britain. There are also exhibits of traditional weapons belonging to the ruling family, and archaeological displays about the earliest settlers in the area up to the late Islamic period. The museum’s ethnographic section introduces traditional life in the emirate, including architecture, pearl diving, date growing, farming, and fishing.

Dhayah Fort:

This 16th-century mud-brick fort was built in a strategic hilltop position facing the gulf to defend the region from attack by the British. As a defensive military tower, the Dhayah Fort played an important role in the history of Ras Al-Khaimah. Other ruined fortifications and watchtowers can be seen to the south of the hill. A battle in 1891 between the emirate and British forces resulted in the destruction of much of the fortifications here. The panoramic views from the fort’s ramparts are well worth the trip here, and for anyone interested in history, exploring the fort itself is one of this small emirate’s top things to do.

 

Jazirat al-Hamra:

If you like ruins, this abandoned fishing village, just outside Ras Al-Khaimah city will be right up your alley and provides a very photogenic sightseeing opportunity. Jazirat al-Hamra has been left to slowly decay with its traditional coral-block architecture now a reminder of the simple local life before the oil boom. The Emirati inhabitants here would have made their living out of pearl diving and fishing, but the villagers all left in the 1960s, and the dry desert climate has helped preserve the buildings. The entire place is infused with a lost-in-time atmosphere.

 

 Jebel Jais:

Jebel Jais, part of the Hajar Mountain Range, is the United Arab Emirates’ tallest mountain, with its summit at 1,934 meters. A recently opened 20-kilometer-long road to the top (not quite to the summit) snakes in a switchback all the way up the mountain’s flank, with viewing platforms along the route to take in the beautiful far-reaching vistas. There are future plans to build a resort (complete with sports facilities) on the summit, but for now the drive up, purely to take in the spectacular views, is the top attraction.

 

Khatt Springs:

 

Khatt Springs is an area of mineral-rich hot pools, where the water is noted for its relaxing and therapeutic properties. The resort lies amid a palm-tree strewn oasis, backed by mountains. The healthy waters are a top get-away-from-it-all holiday draw for locals as well as tourists.

As well as soaking your cares away in one of the steaming pools, the surrounding area is home to approximately 170 archaeological sites. Items uncovered in the area by archaeologists include prehistoric tombs and 19th-century mud-brick fortification towers, pointing to the long and continuous settlement of this area.

 

Hajar Mountains

The rugged and raw Hajar Mountains dominate the Ras Al-Khaimah scenery and create a beautiful area to head out into nature on a day trip. The surrounding desert has ever-changing, rust-colored sand dunes, while in the mountains, the awe-inspiring jagged landscapes are the kind of big-sky country that most visitors don’t expect to find in the United Arab Emirates. The Hajar are of tremendous interest to geologists as they have the world’s greatest surface exposure of ophiolites (igneous rock from the oceanic crust).

 

Ras Al-Khaimah Beach:

Luckily, Ras Al-Khaimah has plenty to offer if you’ve had enough of museums. The shoreline here is all backed by luxury resorts, and most will allow non-guests to use their facilities with a day pass. The beach has a swath of golden-toned sand and is well cared for. Due to the fact that the resorts all run their patch of beach, facilities are excellent, with sun loungers, sun shades, cafes, freshwater showers, and pretty much everything you need for a day of topping up your tan. Various water sports are also on offer, including kayak hire and jet-skis.