Ras Al Khaimah is one of seven emirates that joined to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on December 2, 1971. It is the fourth largest emirate and the northernmost emirate, covers an area of 1684sq. km. which is equal to 3.16 per cent of the total area of the UAE.
It was renowned for its prosperous port and exquisite pearls, which were the whitest and roundest in the world.
The history of the Ras Al Khaimah dates back to the third millennium BC, according to historical records, and a number of historical and archaeological sites of various eras beckon visitors. Ras Al Khaimah is in fact the new name of the emirate — it used to be known as Julfar over the ages.
Historical documents say that Julfar was located in the Shamal area and was inhabited by the Azdan Arabian tribe, an offshoot of the Kahlan tribe, which was one of the two branches of Qahtan, the aboriginal Arabs, the other being Himyar. In the early 18th century, Al Qawasim (the current ruling tribe of the emirate) set up base in Ras Al Khaimah.
However, the early 19th century — between 1819 and 1821 — was an especially trying time in Ras Al Khaimah's history with the British naval force launching an invasion and gaining control of vast areas of the emirate with a view to putting an end to the maritime influence of powers such as Al Qawasim tribe.
Like the rest of the emirates, Ras Al Khaimah signed the General Maritime Treaty with Britain in 1822. Based on the official decision of Shaikh Sultan Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the treaty gave the emirate the status of a protectorate but helped keep the Ottoman Turks at bay.
On 10 February 1972, Ras al-Khaimah, under the leadership of Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qasimi, joined the United Arab Emirates.
Ras Al Khaimah is situated in the northernmost part of the UAE between the Latitude of 25-26N and Longitude of 55-60 E. It is bordered from the South and the Northeast by Oman and shares borders with the emirates of Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah, and Fujairah.
There are a number of islands which form part of the emirate, such as Greater and Lesser Tunbs, and it is the only emirate that overlooks the entrance to the Arabian Gulf.
Ras Al Khaimah has a vast coastline stretching to roughly 65 kilometres. The emirate is located in the far east of the Arab World, and it is the nearest emirate to the strategic Strait of Hormuz. It is also the nearest one to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the former republics of the Soviet Union.
Summer: From June to September the weather in summer is characterised by heat and high humidity conditions. The highest temperature reaches 48°C. Winter: From October to May mild to chilly weather with temperatures ranging from 14°C to 25°C, prevail through these months.
According to census estimates by the RAK Center for Statistics & Studies, the population reached 345,000 in 2015, RAK’s live births witnessed an increase pf 12%, i.e. 4557 new-borns in 2015 if compared witnessed a pared to 2014, while still births witnessed a remarkable decrease at a percentage of 32%, reaching 15 stillbirths.
His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi is the Ruler of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. His Highness received his early education in Ras Al Khaimah until he graduated from high school. He received his higher education in the US, where he joined the University of Michigan and studied Economics and Political Science.
After completing his higher education in 1979, His Highness returned to the UAE and was appointed Chief of Ras Al Khaimah Royal Court (Al Diwan Al Amiri). In 1986, His Highness was appointed Chairman of Ras Al Khaimah Municipal Council. He has also chaired many boards of companies.
His father, Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi appointed him as Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. Shortly after becoming Deputy Ruler in 2005, His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr established the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority to develop the infrastructure in the emirate.
He became the Ruler of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah on October 27th 2010, after the demise of his father Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, and also became a member of the Supreme Council.
The emirate boasts many heritage and tourism sites and is also considered the most fertile agricultural land amongst all the emirates.
Apart from agriculture, Ras Al Khaimah has been witnessing an increased contribution from other sectors as well. The recent establishment of free zones and industrial areas which attracted many foreign investments have also impacted its economy.
RAK Free Trade Zone Authority embodies more than 8,600 companies from over 100 countries, representing more than 50 industry sectors. RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA) is a fully equipped business and industrial region offering competitive free zone and non-free zone facilities in a dynamic environment.
Besides, with three cement-manufacturing companies, Ras Al Khaimah is currently the largest cement producer in the UAE.
Ras Al Khaimah is also home to the largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries LLC, known as Julphar, in MENA.
Education is among Ras Al Khaimah’s top priorities and in its efforts to build a promising future and achieve comprehensive, sustainable growth, Ras Al Khaimah provides an excellent educational environment that takes education to a world-class level.
Today, Ras Al Khaimah has an enviable roster of educational institutions equipped with the best educational facilities according to the highest international standards, from kindergarten to primary and secondary schools and also many universities that offer degrees in modern subjects.
Education is free for national citizens in public schools. It is compulsory for students between 6 and 12. Non-UAE nationals are allowed to enrol in public schools for simple fees. Public schools and universities are gender segregated but there are a number of private educational institutions that implement a coeducational system. The school term in Ras Al Khaimah starts in September and ends in June.
Ras Al Khaimah provides exceptional services in medical treatment and general health care to guarantee the health of citizens, residents, and visitors. There are scores of public and private hospitals and many medical centres and laboratories equipped with the best medical devices as well as modern facilities.
Due to the growing population, the medical sector is among the fastest emerging economic sectors with room for new medical investments, be it hospital projects, comprehensive medical centres, or specialised medical clinics.
Today, Ras Al Khaimah is reinventing itself as a tourism hub. It is often described as the most scenic of all the emirates because of its diverse landscape consisting of sandy deserts, coastal strips with salt flats areas, mangroves and mountains. There are also sulphur springs near the mountain areas. The emirate is also home to a number of mammals such as foxes and jerboas as well as hundreds of bird species.
Its landmarks vary between old and new. Some of the popular ones are:
The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah: is located in the western part of Ras Al Khaimah city in a fort that was the residence of the ruling family until the early 1960s. The National Museum houses a collection of archaeological and ethnological artifacts. The Qawasim Room on the first floor contains documents, manuscripts and treaties between the rulers of Ras Al Khaimah and the UK Government, as well as some traditional weapons belonging to the ruling family.
Iceland Waterpark: escaping from the heat, Iceland Water Park offers thrilling amusement to visitors of all ages. With a wide variety of games, water slides and an extensive food court, Iceland is all about having a fun time. The park also boasts of the world’s tallest man made water fall, with facilities for guests to actually be in the midst of it!
Al Hamra Mall is a 37,000 m2 two-storey shopping center set amidst the stunning residential development of Al Hamra Village in Ras Al Khaimah, offering a perfect blend of shopping, entertainment, dining and recreational options. Al Hamra Mall houses a wide range of stores and services catering to its international customers, synchronizing perfectly with the demands and wishes of the multi-cultural population in the UAE. With over 100 stores to choose from, shoppers can delight in designer clothing, electronic appliances, furniture and daily groceries.
Opened in 2012, RAK Mall combines the best in retail with fine dining and entertainment for the entire family. With local and international fashion brands, jewellery and accessories stores, cosmetics outlets, electronic stores etc, RAK Mall offers an unparalleled experience to residents and visitors to the Emirate. Developed and managed by Line Investments & Property LLC- a division of Lulu Group International, RAK Mall has a built-up area of approximately 700,000 square feet and is also noteworthy for its striking architecture, which at the same time is spacious and well-laid.
Opened in the September of 2000, Manar Mall caters to be the most popular shopping and leisure center in RAK. Built on the spectacular landscape-facing sea corniche on one side and convenient parking on the other, it offers variety of time spending to everyone. Customers are offered cafes and restaurants with outdoor siting area, facing the sea, playgrounds for children, 120 retail outlets and several anchor stores.
The mall stands four storeys high, with a total built-up area of 1,500,000 square feet and total leasable area of 645,000 square feet. The total number of shops available for rent is 200. The mall classification is MID to HIGH class.
The city of Ras Al Khaimah is the capital of the emirate. A creek divides it into two parts: the western old town - Ras Al Khaimah and the eastern part - Al Nakheel. Other key towns are: Al Jazeerah Al Hamra, Digdagah, Khatt and Masafi. Masafi shares its boundaries with the emirate of Fujairah and is known for its mineral water.
Since the 1960’s, Ras Al Khaimah has witnessed a remarkable cultural mobilisation. Culture has great significance and locals treasure their folklore, heritage, arts and local sports, such as horse-riding and camel racing. They frequent cultural clubs, theatres and libraries. Here are some of the many cultural institutions in Ras Al Khaimah:
Established in 1976, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport is midway between Europe and the Far East and is the gateway between Ras al Khaimah and the world. It operates passenger and cargo services to a variety of destinations covering Europe, the Middle East, North & East Africa, Central Asia, Sub-continent. The airport began in April 2007 an extensive expansion program including a significant upgrade of the passenger terminal building, public transport infrastructure, and the building of new cargo terminal with state of the art facilities.
Ras Al Khaimah has a modern and developed road network that links it to the other Emirates and allows for easy access to all cities in Ras Al Khaimah. English and Arabic Road signs are conveniently placed all across the roadways in the emirate to facilitate an easy, hassle-free and comfortable commute.
You can enjoy exploring the emirate on board a tour bus or by taxi. If you wish to drive yourself, you can visit one of the many car rental companies and choose from a wide range of vehicles that are available at very reasonable prices.However, please note that you will need to provide a copy of your passport and a valid international driver's licence.
The official language of the UAE is Arabic, but English is widely spoken and understood, with both languages being commonly used in business and commerce.
The official currency in Ras Al Khaimah is named Dirham (or United Arab Emirates Dirham; AED). The Dirham (AED) is abbreviated as DH or Dhs. It is not the currency of Ras Al Khaimah only, but also other emirates including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ajman, Sharjah, Umm-Al-Quwain.
The most common notes in circulation are the 100 Dh, 50 Dh, 20 Dh, 10 Dh and 5 Dh note although there are three other less commonly used notes – 200 Dh, 500 Dh and 1000 Dh notes. 1 Dh = 100 fils and coins are available in 25 fils, 50 fils and 1 Dh denominations.
Dollars is widely accepted in Ras Al Khaimah and the major credit cards such as American Express, Diner’s Club, Visa and MasterCard are acceptable throughout Ras Al Khaimah. ATMs can be found across the UAE in malls, hotels and gas stations. ATMs accept foreign credit and debit cards including Switch, Maestro, Cirrus, Union Pay, Visa and MasterCard.