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Ras Al Khaimah

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Ras Al Khaimah (Arabic: رأس الخيمة‎; IPA: [raʔs alˈxajma]), historically known as Julfar, is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The capital city and home of most residents is also called Ras Al Khaimah, sometimes abbreviated to RAK city.[1]

Ras Al Khaimah
إمارة رأس الخيمة
Ra's al-Khaymah, Ras Al-Khaimah or RAK
Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah
Skyline of Ras Al Khaimah
Flag of Ras Al Khaimah
Coat of arms of Ras Al Khaimah
Coat of arms
Location of Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE
Location of Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE
Coordinates: 25°47′N 55°57′E / 25.783°N 55.950°E / 25.783; 55.950Coordinates: 25°47′N 55°57′E / 25.783°N 55.950°E / 25.783; 55.950
Country United Arab Emirates
Emirate Ras Al Khaimah
 • TypeAbsolute monarchy
 • RulerSaud bin Saqr al Qasimi
 • Crown PrinceMohammed bin Saud al Qasimi
 • Total2,486 km2 (960 sq mi)
Population (2015)
 • Total345,000

Its name in English means "top of the tent", which may refer to its position as the northernmost Emirate in the UAE or to the indigenous buildings that existed along the coast.[2] The emirate borders Oman's exclave of Musandam. It covers an area of 2,486 km2 (960 sq mi) and has 64km of beach coastline.

As of 2015, the emirate had a population of about 345,000, of which about 31% were Emirati citizens. [3]

RAK city has two main areas - the Old Town and Nakheel - on either side of a creek that is home to mangroves and is framed by the Al Hajar mountains. The emirate also consists of several towns and new developments dotted around the emirate, such as Al Hamra Village, Mina Al Arab, Al Dhait and Al Rams. The emirate is served by Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. Its geography consists of a northern part (where RAK city and most towns are situated) and a large inland exclave in the south (near Hatta), and a few small islands in the Persian Gulf.[4] Ras Al Khaimah has the most fertile soil in the country, due to a larger share of rainfall and underground water streams from its Al Hajar mountains.[5]



Ras Al Khaimah has been the site of continuous human habitation for 7,000 years, one of the few places in the world where this is the case[6], and there are many historical and archaeological sites throughout the emirate - local sources cite 1,000[7] - dating from different time periods, including remnants of the Umm al-Nar Culture (3rd millennium BC).[8] The area of Shimal contains both Umm Al Nar and Wadi Suq burials and a number of notable finds, including one grave that contained no fewer than 18 fine bronze arrowheads.

Wadi Suq era graves found at Seih Al Harf in the Emirate in October 2012 briefly held up the construction of the northern spur of the arterial E611 road.[9]

Ras Al Khaimah was historically known as Julfar and, according to Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, current ruler of Sharjah Emirate, it was founded by Armenians who escaped Persia during the Mongol invasion.[citation needed]

Archaeological evidence has demonstrated that the settlement known as Julfar shifted location over time as harbour channels silted up. Excavations of a sizable tell, which revealed remnants of a Sassanid era fortification, indicate that early Julfar was located in the north of Ras Al Khaimah, not far from other sites of historical and archaeological interest such as 'Sheba's Palace' and the largest Umm al-Nar tombs found on the Arabian Peninsula.

Pirate coastEdit

There is considerable debate locally regarding the 18th-century charge of maritime piracy, attracting the British label 'The Pirate Coast' to the Eastern Gulf. Local interpretations of the dispute with the British were that the British became increasingly aggressive in protecting their trade but this resulted in interference in locals' livelihoods, so they naturally took exception to it.[10] However, in the early 18th century, the Al Qasimi dynasty established itself in Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah on the Arabian Peninsula, growing to become a significant maritime force with holdings on both the Persian and Arabian coasts that frequently came into conflict with British flagged shipping.

It was the Al Qasimi links to Persia that drew them to the attention of Ahmed bin Said, the Ruler of Muscat, who had wrested control of the coast and interior of Oman back from the Persian forces who had taken it under Nadir Shah and Mirza Taki Khan, the governor of Shiraz. Ahmed bin Said threw 12,000 men under the command of Kandhala bin Saif Al Suwaidi in an attack on Ras Al Khaimah which was met at Buraimi by 14,000 men of the Al Qasimi and Na'im. They were defeated, leading the garrison at Khor Fakkan, besieged by Ahmed bin Said, to surrender. He went on to take Khasab and then blockaded Ras Al Khaimah, Rams, Jazirat Al Hamra, Fasht and Sharjah. This led to all but Ras Al Khaimah suing for peace in 1763. The Sheikhs of Ras Al Khaimah submitted in 1771, but in 1775 revolted and re-took the towns on the West and East coast, consolidating their gains under the weak rule of Sultan bin Ahmed bin Saeed.[11] This longstanding war between the Al Qasimi and Muscat pitted them naturally against Muscat's ally – Britain.

In the aftermath of a series of attacks in 1808 off the coast Sindh involving 50 Qasimi raiders and following the 1809 monsoon season, the British authorities in India decided to make a significant show of force against the Al Qasimi, in an effort not only to destroy their larger bases and as many ships as could be found, but also to counteract French encouragement of them from their embassies in Persia and Oman.[12] The British mounted the Persian Gulf campaign of 1809, in which the Al Qasimi fleet was largely destroyed. The British operation continued to Linga on the Persian coast which was, like the Greater and Lesser Tunbs islands, administered by the Al Qasimi.

By the morning of 14 November, the military expedition was over and the British forces returned to their ships, having suffered light casualties of five killed and 34 wounded. Arab losses are unknown, but were probably significant, while the damage done to the Al Qasimi fleets was severe: a significant portion of their vessels had been destroyed.[13]

1819 campaignEdit

Ras Al Khaimah under attack by the British in December 1809.

With the 1809 campaign concluded without significant treaty concessions, an 1815 arrangement was made between the British and the Al Qasimi.[14] By 1819, it was clear the arrangement had broken down and so in November of that year, the British embarked on a second expedition against the Al Qasimi, led by Major-General William Keir Grant, voyaging to Ras Al Khaimah with a platoon of 3,000 soldiers. The British extended an offer to Said bin Sultan of Muscat in which he would be made ruler of the Pirate Coast if he agreed to assist the British in their expedition. Obligingly, he sent a force of 600 men and two ships.[15][16]

The force gathered off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah on 25 and 26 November and, on 2 and 3 December, troops were landed south of the town and set up batteries of guns and mortars and, on the 5th December, the town was bombarded from both land and sea. Continued bombardment took place over the following four days until, on the 9th, fortress and town of Ras Al Khaimah were stormed and found to be practically deserted. On the fall of Ras Al Khaimah, three cruisers were sent to blockade Rams to the North and this, too was found to be deserted and its inhabitants retired to the 'impregnable' hill-top fort of Dhayah.[17]

The British landed a force at Rams on 18 December, which fought its way inland through date plantations to the hilltop fort of Dhayah on the 19th. There, 398 men and another 400 women and children held out, without sanitation, water or effective cover from the sun, for three days under heavy fire from mortars and 12-pound cannon.

The hilltop fort of Dhayah, in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

The two 24-pound cannon from HMS Liverpool which had been used to bombard Ras Al Khaimah from the landward side were once again pressed into use and dragged across the plain from Rams, a journey of some four miles. Each of the guns weighed over 2 tonnes. After enduring two hours of sustained fire from the big guns, which breached the fort's walls, the last of the Al Qasimi surrendered at 10.30 on the morning of 22 December.[18]

1820 treatyEdit

In January 1820, the British imposed the General Maritime Treaty of 1820 signed by Sheikh Sultan Bin Saqr Al Qasimi of Sharjah who was reinstated by the British in Ras Al Khaimah after the deposition of Hasan Bin Rahma Al Qasimi.[19] The treaty stipulated the end of piracy and slavery, and laid the foundation for the British protectorate over the Trucial States that lasted until December 1971. In 1869, Ras Al Khaimah became fully independent from neighbouring Sharjah. However, from September 1900 to 7 July 1921, it was re-incorporated into Sharjah; the last governor became its next independent ruler.

On 10 February 1972,[20] Ras Al Khaimah, under the leadership of Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qasimi, joined the United Arab Emirates.

List of rulersEdit

Its rulers were:


In 1975, the total population of Ras Al Khaimah was 43,845 of which 29,613 were nationals and 14,232 were foreigners. This figure increased to 73,918 (39,148 locals; 34,770 foreigners) in 1980, 96,578 in 1985, 143,334 in 1995, and 210,063 in 2005. The total population, as of 2015, was estimated to be about 345,000 people, both Emiratis and expatriates.[24]

Towns and settlementsEdit

Important towns, settlements and areas include:

  • Al Jazirah Al Hamra – an old coastal town that is home to the Al Hamra Village development and an industrial zone
  • Rams – a coastal town; in the past, a typical fishing and pearl-diving community
  • Khor Khwair – an industrial zone, with the largest bulk-handling port in the Middle East[25] [26]and numerous companies such as a cement factory
  • Diqdaqah – a village known for agriculture activities
  • Khatt – a village surrounded by mountains, famous for its thermal springs and palm gardens
  • Masafi – a town in the south, on the border with Fujairah; well known for being a major supplier of bottled drinking water
  • Huwaylat – a central village in the south


Ras Al Khaimah's desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) is hot and arid with very hot summers and mild winters. The average temperature is 12 to 25 °C (54 to 77 °F) in January and 29 to 43 °C (84 to 109 °F) in July. However, temperatures often reach 45 °C in the summer; the highest recorded temperature is 48.8 °C (119.8 °F). The humidity is usually high in the summer months. Rains and thunderstorms occur rarely, and only in winter. Snow has been reported in December 2004, January 2009 and February 2017[27] in the high mountains of Ras al-Khaimah. Temperatures as low as −5 °C (23 °F) have been measured at the peak of Jebel Jais.[28]

Climate data for Ras al-Khaimah Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.0
Average high °C (°F) 24.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.3
Average low °C (°F) 11.8
Record low °C (°F) 4.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 12.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 1.7 3.3 4.7 0.9 0.2 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.7 2.3 14.3
Average relative humidity (%) 69 66 62 53 46 50 50 53 57 59 62 69 58
Mean monthly sunshine hours 238.7 218.4 238.7 285.0 344.1 327.0 303.0 310.0 300.0 303.8 279.0 235.6 3,383.3
Source: NOAA [29]



As one of the non-oil producing emirates, Ras Al Khaimah has focused on developing its industrial sector. In 1920, Ras Al Khaimah was reportedly involved in iron ore extraction.[30]

Main economic sectorsEdit

  • Real Estate – numerous residential areas, offices, commercial buildings are constructed in Ras Al Khaimah.
  • Tourism – Ras Al Khaimah is becoming a new destination on tourist maps. Ras Al Khaimah is home to five star hotels and beach resorts including Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Rotana or Banyan Tree. It has a number of 4 and 3 star accommodations. In September 2010, first water park Ice Land was opened to offer leisure opportunity for both residents and visitors and more new tourism projects are under construction.
  • Building materials – Ras Al Khaimah opened the UAE's first cement company in the early 1970s and is now the UAE's largest producer of cement. In the 1980s, the emirate formed Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics, which has become one of the world's largest ceramics producers.
  • Manufacturing and High-Tech Industry – In the 1980s, the emirate formed Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar), the Persian Gulf region's first pharmaceuticals company. Falcon Technologies International (FTI) represents high-tech industry and produces optical storage media (CDR, DVDR, BDR). In 2012, Innovative Composite Engineering was established in the Industrial Free-zone to manufacture high end composite products (aerospace, construction parts).[31]
  • Service sector – recently growing sector with its prominent RAK Bank and RAK Insurance companies.
  • Agriculture and Fisheries – in the past, these were the main economy sectors of Ras Al Khaimah. Nowadays they are still significant providing foodstuff not only for the Emirate but for the whole country.

Taxation and companies lawEdit

New legislation and regulations favour international investments. The combination of security and confidentiality is ensured to entrepreneurs. An international company may only have foreign customers and is not liable for paying local taxes. It can open a local bank account, make investments tax-free, and obtain mortgages for investing in UAE assets. Employment visas are available. When approved, this type of company can own property in UAE free-trade zones.

No income, sales, or wealth taxes are payable by individuals. No corporate taxes are charged. In addition, there are no exchange controls, no withholding nor import or export taxes.


The UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday's holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.[32] It should be noted however that a great majority of the population are non national citizens, coming from India, Pakistan, and a wide range of nations.


The majority of mosques are Hanbali, Muwahhid Muslim or Salafi


Participants of RAK Half Marathon 2011.

The annual Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, first held in 2007, resulted in a world record from Samuel Wanjiru in 2007 and the second fastest run of all-time from Patrick Makau Musyoki in 2009.[33]

The UAE Awafi Festival is an annual cultural and heritage festival held in the Ras Al Khaimah desert. It is a three-week event, held in December or January, one attraction being a sand dune race. There is a heritage village with traditional food and dance, as well as shops for food and souvenirs.

The Terry Fox Run RAK is a yearly charity run organized in Ras Al Khaimah to support cancer research in the UAE.[34] The first event was organized in 2010 (short movie from 1st RAKTFR event). Participation of this event has grown from hundreds to thousands since its inception.



A trilingual signboard in RAK

Within Ras Al Khaimah city, the main mode of public transport are metered taxis, with public buses operating on long-haul routes and catering mainly to smaller towns (e.g. Sha`am, Rams, and Al Jazirah Al Hamra). A local bus service operated by RAK Transport Authority provides infrequent connections between Nakheel, Al Hamra and the airport.[35]

Ras Al Khaimah is connected to the other emirates by taxis and buses which embark from the Bus Station located at RAK Transport Authority Headquarters near the new Ras Al Khaimah Police Headquarters and opposite the Cove Rotana hotel.

Three dual-carriageways link Ras Al Khaimah with the other emirates and beyond. One follows the coast with beaches on one side and stretches of desert on the other; the other, a new route, runs out towards the airport in the direction of Khatt, Masafi, Fujairah, Dhaid, and eventually Oman.

The Emirates Road (E311 Highway) from Ras Al Khaimah traverses the emirates of Umm Al Quwain, Ajman (for 60 km (37 mi) of its length) and Sharjah (for 71 km (44 mi) of its length) to finally end up in Dubai (for 87 km (54 mi) of its length). The highway allows journeys from Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai in under 45 minutes. The highway is being extended further till Saqr Port to allow direct flow of traffic from the southern emirates, the extension was scheduled to be completed by 2014. In spring 2013 work on the 32-kilometre (20 mi) RAK Ring Road which will bypass the city and connect the quarries and factories of the north coast with the 311 motorway was held up by a three-month rescue excavation after the discovery of megalithic tombs dating to the Wadi Suq period, from 2000 to 1600 BC.[36]

Saqr Port, located in the industrial area of Khawr Khuwayr, is the emirate's main port, providing bulk and container services. It has eight deep-water berths, each 200 m (660 ft) long, is dredged to 12.2 m (40 ft) and has two "ro-ro" ramps plus specialised berths for handling bulk cement and aggregate. Other services include ship-handling, crew changes, and 40,000 m2 (430,000 sq ft) of covered storage, together with a vast open storage area. It is also the closest port in the UAE to Bandar Abbas, Iran, but there is no shipping from Saqr port to Bandar Abbas[clarification needed].

Ras Al Khaimah International Airport offers cargo and passenger services to a variety of destinations covering the Middle East, North & East Africa, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. It serves as a hub for low-cost carrier Air Arabia.

On 17 February 2006, Space Adventures announced its plans to develop a $265 million commercial spaceport in Ras Al Khaimah for space tourism.[37] This plan has yet to be realized.


Notable landmarks in Ras Al Khaimah include:

  • The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah: housed in the former palace of the ruling Al Qasimi family, with exhibits on natural history, arts and crafts of previous centuries, and archaeology
  • Dhayah Fort: the highest hilltop fort in the UAE[38]
  • Sheba's Palace: ruins of a medieval palace
  • Al Falayah Fort: the former summer residence of the ruling Al Qasimi family
  • Al Jazirah Al Hamra: an abandoned "ghost town" showing the preserved architecture of a 20th-century pearling port[39]
  • The Old City and Souq: both traditional and modern shops as well as artisans' workshops
  • Waldorf Astoria - Ras Al Khaimah
  • Bu Shaqq tower

Dunes and landformsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "People evacuated from flooded houses in Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah". 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  2. ^ "10 things you did not know about Ras Al Khaimah". Emirates 24/7.
  3. ^ "Facts about Ras Al Khaimah". RAK Government.
  4. ^ UAE map
  5. ^ "Agriculture - United Arab Emirates - export, crops, farming". Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  6. ^ "RAK Tourism Development Authority".
  7. ^ "RAK drives home its heritage credentials". The National. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  8. ^ "New archaeological site found in Ras Al Khaimah". 2013-02-11. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  9. ^ "Ancient graves unearthed in RAK". 2013-04-05. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  10. ^ Al-Qasimi, Sultan Muhammed; Shāriqah), Sulṭān ibn Muḥammad al-Qāsimī (Ruler of (1 January 1988). "The Myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf". Routledge – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Arabian Gulf Intelligence. Cambridge: Oleander Press. 1985. pp. 6–8. ISBN 9781909349964.
  12. ^ James, William (2002) [1827]. The Naval History of Great Britain, Volume 5, 1808–1811. Conway Maritime Press. p. 204. ISBN 0-85177-909-3.
  13. ^ Marshall, John (1823). "Samuel Leslie Esq.". Royal Naval Biography. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green. pp. 88–90.
  14. ^ "'Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. Vol I. Historical. Part IA & IB. J G Lorimer. 1915' [653] (796/1782)". Retrieved 13 January 2014. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  15. ^ "'Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. Vol I. Historical. Part IA & IB. J G Lorimer. 1915' [659] (802/1782)". Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  16. ^ Moorehead, John (1977). In Defiance of The Elements: A Personal View of Qatar. Quartet Books. p. 23. ISBN 9780704321496.
  17. ^ Lorimer, John (1915). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. British Government, Bombay. pp. 666–670.
  18. ^ Lorimer, John (1915). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. British Government, Bombay. p. 668.
  19. ^ The Gulf States: A Modern History - David Commins - ßĘČ Google. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  20. ^ Kourosh Ahmadi, Islands and International Politics in the Persian Gulf: The Abu Musa and Tunbs in Strategic Context (Routledge, 2008) p96
  21. ^ Lorimer, John (1915). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. British Government, Bombay. p. 755.
  22. ^ Lorimer, John (1915). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. British Government, Bombay. p. 641.
  23. ^ "Saud is Ras Al Khaimah ruler as UAE mourns Shaikh Saqr". Gulf News. 2010-10-27.
  24. ^ "RAK Government facts".
  25. ^ "RAK Ports".
  26. ^ "Arabian Business".
  27. ^ "Watch: Snowfall in UAE, temperature hits -2.2 degree". Khaleej Times. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  28. ^ "Heavy snowfall on Ras Al Khaimah's Jebel Jais mountain cluster". Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  29. ^ "Ras Al Khaimah Climate Normals". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  30. ^ Prothero, G.W. (1920). Arabia. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 98.
  31. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  32. ^ Jonathan Sheikh-Miller. "UAE Weekend Switchover". AMEinfo. Archived from the original on 12 February 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  33. ^ Fairlie, Greg (2010-02-10). Fast times in store as a field of 10 sub-60 men announced for Ras al-Khaimah Half Marathon. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-02-11.
  34. ^ "Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  35. ^ "Transport : Taxi/Bus". Government of Ras Al Khaimah.
  36. ^ "Archaeologists make last ditch attempt to rescue remains of pre-historic tombs in RAK | The National". 2013-04-13. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  37. ^ "News : Press Releases :". Space Adventures. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  38. ^ "Historic witness to RAK's defence". 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  39. ^ Hawker, Ronald W. 'Tribe, house style, and the town layout of Jazirat al-Hamra, Ras al-Khaimah, UAE' in Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 2006