A day trip to Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah is only one hour drive away from Dubai and is getting more and more popular among foreign tourists and expats alike due to the much lower beach hotel prices and the new positioning of RAK as an adventure tourism place. Of course you have not all that outstanding attractions that Dubai has, but maybe that is exactly the attraction in itself that it is a relaxed and laid back city, where you can learn a bit of the past traditions of the UAE, enjoy some nice beaches and start on a mountain tour from there. www.rasalkhaimah.ae
I accompanied on this day a Media Delegation from Kuwait and came to see some interesting places over there. The delegation was staying in Marjan Island Hotel (www.accorhotels.com) one of the many new hotels on the lately developed man-made Marjan Island. You also have the Double Tree Hotel (www.doubletree3.hilton.com) as well as the All-Inclusive Rixos Bab Al Bahr Hotel (www.babalbahr.rixos.com) in the same area.
We started our tour with a visit to the Mohammed Bin Salim Al-Qasimi Moschee (www.rakheritage.rak.ae) at the old Corniche road. With the surroundings there you can really feel that RAK is still more a rural place different from its glittering neighbor Dubai.
Next stop was then a not so well-known and small museum called Bin Majid Museum (www.rakheritage.rak.ae) - where you can learn all about the past of the fishermen traditions of UAE. It has some nice old exhibits and for our group they arranged some retired fishermen who were singing their traditional seamen songs for us. Everybody was very friendly at the museum and the old gentlemen were very keen to tell us about their past - however only few of them spoke English. I asked in the museum and if you are a smaller group and let them know about your visit in advance they can arrange this demonstration for you also with somebody who can explain things in English. Very nice and a real change to the urban life of Dubai.
Afterwards it was time for lunch so we proceeded to the newly developed Corniche Al Qawassim, where you can have a nice walk along the lagoon with a view towards the mountains overlooking the mangroves. There are various restaurants along the Corniche - we had our lunch at Yansoon (www.hakayacollection.com) where you can enjoy excellent Lebanese cuisine on their rooftop terrace.
With new energy we were ready for a small hike up the hill to Dhaya Fort - the Fort is a bit out of town on the main highway to Khasab and you can almost reach easily up there by car - only 200 steps on foot are left and you will have a wonderful view over RAK and the mountain range behind. It was originally built in the 16th century to defend against invading forces and is now the only hilltop military tower left standing in the UAE.
Due to the ongoing rain the days before, our program was restricted and we could not go on Jebel Jais - the highest mountain of the UAE, nearly 2000 m above sea level (www.jebeljais.ae). Even in summer temperatures are cooler here and you can enjoy the breathtaking scenery with a picnic or a camping night out there. For all the adrenaline junkies among you, you can try out RAK's latest attraction - Via Ferrata - 3 thrilling zip lines as you traverse more than 1 km along the mountain route.
If heights are not so much your thing another alternative for an afternoon activity in RAK could be the visit to the Al Wadi Equestrian Center (www.alwadiequestrian.com) - where you can choose between various horse riding activities (or ponies for children), camel rides, falcon show and archery.