Ras Al Khaimah Holidays

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Luxury Ras Al Khaimah Holidays

Surrounded by the towering Hajar Mountains, Ras al Khaimah, at the northernmost tip of the United Arab Emirates, is one of the smallest of the emirates but one of the most picturesque and exciting. Known as RAK, it has only recently emerged as a tourist hot spot, but is already proving more than a match in popularity with its more glitzy neighbours, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Ras al Khaimah holidays offer an incomparable combination of adventure and relaxation, in surroundings with a unique mix of exotic mysticism and awe-inspiring beauty that can be found nowhere else on the planet.

Part of the attraction lies in its antiquity. RAK has been the abode of human habitation for thousands of years, and there are sites dating back to the Umm al Nar civilisation of the third millennium BC. Yet the country manages to promote and preserve its ancient heritage while seamlessly embracing the 21st century, and its towns and cities are oases of modern comforts and facilities without being dominated by soaring skyscrapers.

 

The Capital -- Old and New

The capital itself, Ras al Khaimah City, is divided into two sections by a natural creek, against the backdrop of spectacular mountains and the sparkling expanse of the Arabian Gulf. A bridge connects the old city, with its old-world souqs and historic buildings, with the glamorous malls and vibrant shopping areas of Al Nakheel, the newer section. Along the edge of the creek, overlooked by the pearl-white multi-domed Sheikh Zayed Mosque, runs the Al Qawassim Corniche, where you can stroll, marvel at the stunning views, and enjoy exquisite food at the many smart restaurants.

In the western part of the old city stands the ancient fort that now houses the National Museum of Ras al Khaimah. This is where you can gain an insight into the many different peoples who have called this area home, including mountain tribes, date farmers and desert communities. Behind ornately carved wooden doors lies a treasure house of exhibits, including terracotta urns and intricately-carved soft-stone vessels from the Iron Age.

The Ancient Heritage

Those taking holidays to Ras al Khaimah who are interested in the country's ancient heritage will enjoy prehistoric Shimal, one of the oldest settlements not just in RAK but in the entire region. It has tombs dating back to 2600 BC, many of monumental size, and the remains of a complete village from the second millennium BC. A short distance away is the impressive site known as the Palace of the Queen of Sheba, where tradition holds that King Solomon's legendary consort stayed in the 10th century BC.

Closer to the capital is the stunning Jazirat al Hamra, an abandoned village which was inhabited by fisher folk and pearl divers up until the 1960s. Its beautiful coral block architecture has been perfectly preserved by the dry desert climate, giving a unique insight into the daily lives of local people before the oil boom. Named the Red Island, after the red-hued sand on which it was built, the village is rife with spine-chilling tales of hauntings by powerful djinn or ghosts, which some believe is the real reason why the inhabitants left.

Endless Possibilities

Possibilities for holidays to Ras al Khaimah are endless. You can immerse yourself in Bedouin culture during an overnight stay at the Bedouin Oasis Desert Camp, starting by feasting your eyes on the spectacular sunsets across the vast expanses of sand. As night falls, you are entertained by whirling dervishes and fire dancers, while relishing a gorgeous array of local dishes freshly cooked for you.

There are plenty of other exciting activities, including dune bashing in a 4x4, a day spent sand-boarding, or hiking, rock-climbing or survival skills training in the mountains. For families there is the Ice Land Water Park, complete with model penguins, fake glaciers, and plenty of rides and slides, while the Flyfish Watersports Club, located near Marjan Island, a series of four connected man-made islands extending into the sea to the west of the capital, is the venue for a wide selection of water sports, including kayaking, jet skiing and kite surfing. The really unique activity is the microlight boat trip, where you take off from the sea, explore the coastline from the air, and cruise back to land on the surface of the waves -- the perfect sunrise or sunset experience.

Musandam Peninsula

Ras al Khaimah holidays also offer a gateway to the magnificent Musandam Peninsula, a separate enclave of Oman projecting into the Strait of Hormuz to the east of RAK. Its jagged coastline features massive fjord-like inlets called khors, studded with tiny villages that are only accessible by boat. You can take dhow cruises around the khors, through waters that are home to rich marine life, including dolphin families that swim alongside the

The year-round sunshine means that Ras al Khaimah holidays are delightful at any time of year, although during the British summer months it may be too hot for some. The simplest way to get there is to fly into Dubai's modern international airport, and take a local flight to RAK, or it's an easy hour's drive by road. Whenever and however you go, the country's beauty, its unique ambience and its friendly welcome make it a year-round destination like no other in the world.

Ras Al Khaimah Hotels

Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah

5 Nights B&B From £739/pp Business Class

Ras Al Khaimah
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