Home Manama to Muscat 2012 Day 5: Through another 5 Emirates!
Day 5: Through another 5 Emirates!
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Friday, 06 April 2012 16:15


Ajman Museum 

 Another day, another country – or to be more accurate another 5 Emirates! 

To be fair I was only in Dubai for the time it took to clear customs and meet up with the team and we swiftly hit the road, skirting round the edge of Sharjah and into Ajman – Emirate number 3.  

In Ajman we briefly checked out the Museum of Ajman – unfortunately it’s closed on Fridays – and the glimpse we caught over the restored fort wall that houses the museum whetted our appetite for more.  

We shall certainly be back to include it in a 101 guide of the UAE.   In a blink of an eye we sped through Um Al Qaiwain, my fourth Emirate of the morning before arriving at our destination for the next three days – the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

I’ve been to Ras Al Khaimah twice before and on both occasions, I’m ashamed to say, I just drove through it on the way from Dubai to Musandam in Oman barely giving it a second glance.  Little did I realize that this small Emirate (when compared to Dubai or Abu Dhabi) has so much to offer, not least in the welcome we received from Nermin Abushnaf and Vanessa Crevilari from the recently formed Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

After checking in at the Casa Village, part of the Casa Hotels and Resorts group, we were treated to a delicious lunch at the Al Hamra Marina and Yacht Club.  According to Claudio Schettino, Marina Manager, the Al Hamra area has become a magnet for residents of Dubai seeking a weekend retreat by the sea.  With a capacity for 200 yachts, 3 restaurants and a nearby shopping mall, we began to realize why the marina is in such demand. 

The team at the marina 

The Club offers sailing boats for charter and is in the process of setting up a sailing school opening in September 2012 with the aim of developing Ras Al Khaimah’s next team for Arabian Sail, the Gulf Region’s international sailing competition.  Charters can be for an afternoon, full day, a week or more depending on client needs with everything provided for a safe and fun cruise.  

We were delighted to find ourselves aboard one of the yachts later in the afternoon, in the capable hands of John, our skipper of 30 year’s experience.   If you’re lucky you’ll spot turtles and dolphins, not to mention all manner of sea bird.  Sadly the wind didn’t cooperate and we had to motor some of the way. 

Despite this it was easy to see why Ras Al Khaimah is fast becoming an important spot on tourists’ list of places to visit in the UAE; it’s a place to relax and unwind after the glitz and glamour of Dubai.  This may be one of the reasons why Real Madrid is building a billion dollar tourism project here scheduled to open in January 2015.

Captain John skippering the yacht 

If sailing isn’t your thing and you’re an adrenaline junky, the Al Hamra Fort Hotel and Beach Resort down the road provides all sorts of water sport options from jet skis, to banana boat rides, kayaking, wind-surfing and more.     

For those who are interested in more sedate pastimes, a stroll around Jazirat Al Hamra will reveal the historical origins of the region.  A short drive from the marina, this settlement, abandoned in 1940, has a 600 year old history.  There are examples of intricately carved wind towers hinting at the wealth of the region in years gone by.  The minaret of an ancient mosque is still standing, as are several merchant’s houses used at the height of the Pearl trade.  In fact, as the call to prayer rang out in the distance, a local resident told us that formerly the area was once the richest in the region with 1000s living in the city.

An old mosque in Jazirat Al Hamra 

Returning to our hotel at the end of a long day and as I write this, I am torn between wanting to tell people about Ras Al Khaimah and wanting to keep it a secret.  RAK Tourism is treading a delicate path between the desire to develop their industry and the wish to preserve their local heritage and natural wealth.  From what I have learned so far, they are succeeding in this quest.  I am certainly looking forward to tomorrow’s adventures in Ras Al Khaimah. 

An old fort in Jazirat Al Hamra