Nestled in the northernmost region of the United Arab Emirates sits Ras Al Khaimah. A chunk of land home to continuous human habitation for over seven thousand years, it is easy to see how rich and deep human culture has been immersed within the area. Ras Al Khaimah is one of the seven United Arab Emirates and the only member of the group to not rely on natural oil reserves for a vast section of its economy.
While overlooked when compared to the high-rolling highrises of Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah has steadily been making a name for itself as an international destination and haven for foreign business investments. Leading the way has been Sheikh Saud leader of RAK to stoke the economy through the aforementioned outlets. Leadership in Ras Al Khaimah has been uniquely focused on propping up the tourism sector while simultaneously welcoming other businesses from foreign entities to set up shop within the region.
Let’s take a look at how the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has slowly transformed from an afterthought to one of the most exciting destinations in the United Arab Emirates.
Rich Cultural Destinations
First and foremost, travel to Ras Al Khaimah can be made for a number of different reasons. The city of Ras Al Khaimah, or RAK City, has become a hotspot for business developments in the region pertaining to computing, tourism, hospitality, and outdoor adventure. With that being said, most international travelers are heading to Ras Al Khaimah to immerse themselves within the rich history of the emirate.
The name Ras Al Khaimah essentially translates to ‘top of the tent’. With a population of under 400,000, it is easy to look at Ras Al Khaimah as some sort of out-of-the-way area. With that being said, the seven thousand year legacy of the emirate is still writ large across its landscape, leading us to our first stops during our cultural enrichment travels.
1) Jebel Jais Mountain Range – If you are going to visit Ras Al Khaimah, you must set aside an entire day or two for Jebel Jais, located within the Hajar Mountain Range. As the tallest mountain in all of the UAE, Jebel Jais offers a stunning summit sitting just below 1,934 meters.
Adventurous drivers can travel up the mountainside to park near the summit of Jebel Jais. From there, you will be able to see far-reaching vistas the likes of which are not found anywhere else in the region. If you want to really add a splash of this excitement, consider taking a ride on the Jebel Jais Zipline. One of the most popular modern attractions in the area, the Jebel Jais Zipline will give you an unrivaled look at the area from speeds of up to 120km/hr.
2) Dhayah Fort – With an affinity for history, any traveler should set their sights on the Dhayah Fort. Located roughly 20km outside of Ras Al Khaimah proper, the Dhayah Fort is a vital member of the country’s history. The Dhaya Fort was created in the 16th century as a defensive tower facing the gulf. The tower was crafted out of mud and brick to defend Ras Al Khaimah from British excursions.
If you really want to explore the history of the fort, keep your eyes open for bullet markings in the stone. A battle between British and RAK forces happened in 1891 with the scars of that skirmish still very much visible. Make sure to bring some sunblock and your best selfie stick because the views here are incredible.
3) Khatt Springs – We are going to end our view of history by making a stop at the Khatt Springs. Located roughly 26km from the city limits of Ras Al Khaimah, the Khatt Springs are a wondrous series of mineral-rich pools. These hot springs have been revered for their potential healing and therapeutic properties.
While you are soaking your cares away in the springs, keep an eye out for the more than 170 archaeological sites within the immediate area. With a mind for adventure, you’ll be able to drive up to moments from history captured in time. From mud forts to brick towers, there are amazing historical spots to investigate.
Rise of the Business Sector
While Ras Al Khaimah is revered for its rich history and deep culture, the emirate has been gaining ground in modern times as a legitimate location to do business. Thanks to the direction of RAK leadership, several measures have been put into place in order to make Ras Al Khaimah as business-friendly as possible. One key component of recent success in Ras Al Khaimah is the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone.
The Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone, referred to as RAKEZ, is a special zone that houses 15,000 companies from over 100 countries. These businesses were selected to receive a host of huge benefits through the government including efficient set-up procedures and complete foreign ownership.
Ras Al Khaimah’s development authority has been focused on making it as easy as possible for foreign businesses to set up shop in the emirate. Due to the lack of financial success from natural oil reserves, Ras Al Khaimah is looking to the outside world to continue building its economy. As it looks now, Ras Al Khaimah is having serious recent success.
According to a report made public by the World Bank, the success of the RAK Economic Zone has led the emirate to a jump of nearly two points in their Ease of Doing Business rankings. While that number looks small, the jump puts Ras Al Khaimah in the top thirty spots on the planet when it comes to establishing a business in a foreign country.
What’s to Come For Ras Al Khaimah
As the bulk of the world wrestles with the COVID-19 pandemic, Ras Al Khaimah is already looking to the future for a chance to get back to business as usual. The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority has already helped to establish a stimulus packaged geared toward restarting the tourism and hospitality sectors.