“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Exploring the Region, Part 1:
You have probably heard of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but did you know there were 5 other Emirates that collectively make up the United Arab Emirates? Understandably, outside of the region, many people have only heard of Dubai and Abu Dhabi because they market very well across the world. However, much like the United States is comprised of individual states, the U.A.E has a total of 7 Emirates.
- Abu Dhabi
- Ras Al-Khaimah
- Umm Al-Quwain
I have visited the first four emirates with plans to visit all 7 soon. A couple of months ago, there was an official public holiday in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) giving my husband a three day weekend. We decided to take a last minute trip to Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK). RAK is very different from Dubai and one of my favorite differences is that it’s cooler than Dubai on average. In addition, it isn’t as built up as Dubai, and has a natural landscape attracting many visitors.
Jebel Jais is the highest mountain in the U.A.E and marks the border to Oman. It is part of the Al-Hajar Mountains, a breathtaking, rocky formation that is full of rugged terrain, low valleys, and at times complete isolation. Hikers visit to walk the paths less traveled, sometimes finding fossils of all shapes and sizes. Goats grace the mountain tops, showing off their high skill level as climbers. If you are spending some time in the U.A.E or a serious hiker, Jebel Jais is a must see!
Madfoon Al Sadda:
After spending the day climbing at Jebel Jais, Madfoon Al Sadda is a great place to refuel yourself. From its large portions to well seasoned food (especially the roasted almonds and raisins topping the rice), it is one of my favorite restaurants in RAK. The kunafeh here was by far my favorite so far.
Also known as Qasr Al Zabba (Palace of Zenobia) in Arabic, Sheba’s palace doesn’t have any relation to the two queens (Zenobia and Sheba). But it is the remains of a once prominent fort built in the rocky hills of RAK. Visitors can now access the archaeological site through a stair path. It is now the home and burial site of many mountain goats creating a fun, but low risk climb that’s just right for the weekend adventurer.
Unknown Watch Tower:
Ras Al-Khaimah is well known for the defensive forts and watch towers scattered around town. While driving along E11, we noticed an old watch tower on a hill. We could only take our SUV so far in the sand without letting the air out of the tires, and then proceeded to climb the hill by foot. Once we arrived, we noticed that the tower was made of coral and seemed to be an old watch tower from long ago.
Beach/Corniche: Corniches (roads running parallel to the beach) are very popular in the U.A.E and Ras Al-Khaimah has its very own. Since RAK is typically cooler than Dubai, the corniche is still a nice place to visit at night during the summer. It has a boardwalk with numerous play areas for kids, restaurants and cafes, as well as access to the beach.
Oman: If you are spending a few days in RAK, make sure to bring your passport as Oman is only an hour and a half away. I have heard the landscape in Oman is spectacular, and I look forward to sharing my experience in my ongoing series, Exploring the Region.