The comparatively quiet, manageable capital of Ras al Khaimah presents itself as an interesting mix of oriental flair, luxury hotels and modern construction projects.
The capital of Ras al Khaimah, similar to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has developed from a small pirate's nest into a thriving major city in the United Arab Emirates over the past decades, and its expansion is still in full swing.
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PICTURES: Ras al Khaimah City
Since 1990, the city expansion has been proceeding according to plan and by now about 80% of the total population of Ras al Khaimah lives in the capital. In contrast to other cities in the UAE, Ras al Khaimah is not a desert of high-rise buildings, but a rural city with an urban landscape that is always green.
Construction projects in Ras al Khaimah City
Similar to the other emirates, attempts are also being made in Ras al Khaimah to extend the coastline with artificial islands, canals and lagoons in order to be able to achieve lucrative prices for the construction projects being built there.
For example, the Mina al Arab, the "Port of Arabia", has been under construction in the Chaur Al-Jazeera lagoon since 2007. In addition to a harbour and a traditional market (souq), resorts are being built here by the top dog "RAK Properties" to boost tourism in Ras al Khaima. The construction project is being carried out with respect for the environment and in harmony with the birds, turtles and dolphins living in the area.
Old Town of Ras al Khaimah
And yet Ras al Khaimah has also remained a trace of history, because today the old town of RAK still lies on a small peninsula on a lagoon. Here, the lively souq and the impressive National Museum which presents the history of the Emirate in dazzling colours. It is located in the Al-Hisn Fort dating back to 1749, the oldest building in the city, which was built in a wide variety of architectural styles and is a perfect example of the residential-defence combination often used at the time.
RAK Documentation and Studies Centre
The RAK Documentation and Studies Centre is located in the north of the Old City and was opened in 1986 in the birthplace of Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed al Qasimi. Particularly noteworthy about the building are the doors and the architectural decorative elements, which have been faithfully renovated due to the historical significance of the house.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salim Al Qasimi Mosque
Across the street towards the coast is the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salim Al Qasimi Mosque, the oldest mosque in the city. It was built about 200 years ago from stones and mortar - and at that time without a minaret.
To the right of this historic building is the Ras al Khaimah fish market. Early in the morning, when the fresh catch is brought into the harbour, there is a lot going on here. Even fish gourmets will have never heard of many of the fish species advertised here! In the late afternoon, the boats quietly bobbing on the water offer wonderful photo opportunities.
Sheikh Muhammad Bin Salem Road
From the fish market southwards, it's worth taking a walk along Sheikh Muhammad Bin Salem Road, which is lined with numerous shops selling antiques, herbs, spices, local clothing and everyday items, all the way to the Pearl Roundabout on Al Hisn Road. Passing the magnificent Abdul Raheem Muhammad Al Ali Mosque, you will come within sight of an old watchtower, which used to be built for defence throughout the emirate.
If you turn right into Al Hisn Road and walk past the National Museum, you will reach the historic souq of Ras al Khaimah City in the adjoining Sidroh Street, which still exudes typical oriental flair with its fully laden stalls.
Here you will find mainly fabrics and gold, while the Abra Market on the banks of the Creek is characteristically called the "Iranian Souq" and offers mainly household items made of screamingly colourful plastic.
Back on the other side of the peninsula, Al Qawasim Corniche Road leads to the Pearl Museum, run by RAK Pearls, which tells the story of pearl fishing in Ras al Khaimah and the United Arab Emirates.
The Khor Bridge connects the old city with the government and business district of Al-Nakheel on the other side of the estuary.