Ras Al Khaimah City Tour (رأس الخيمة) is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates . It is located in the north of the country and borders with Oman. It is quite different from the modernity and luxury of Dubai or Abu Dhabi and therein lies its appeal. It is a perfect day trip from Dubai by renting a car. I did this route in one day while visiting Dubai Expo 2020 .
I love leaving Dubai and more when you go to find something a little more alternative and authentic. In addition, Ras al Khaimah has mountains, green valleys and some of those abandoned villages that make you dream of life before the oil boom. Thus, it is a destination to include in a trip to the United Arab Emirates .
How to get to Ras al Khaimah
The best way to get to Ras al Khaimah from Dubai is by road. If you can, it is worth renting a car because most of the attractions are on the outskirts of the city. Neither public transport nor taxis are very practical.
You leave Dubai via the E311 road or via the E11 if you want to stop at Umm al Quwain . Then follow the E11 north parallel to the sea to Ras al Khaimah. The path to Jebel Jais is well signposted.
Ras al Khaimah: what to see and do
The essential visits in Ras al Khaimah are in its surroundings. The city itself has the typical attractions of a modern Emirati city. The Ras al Khaimah National Museum is perhaps the most interesting place from a heritage point of view, but having seen the ones in Sharjah and Dubai, I think it can be a bit repetitive.
The abandoned village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra
This fishing village is one of the few places with history that has not been fully restored. It was abandoned in the 1960s and the houses have been degraded until the corals used to make the bricks can be seen.
There are some buildings that are being repaired, such as the mosque and a house that is completely renovated. However, you can still walk through the streets full of vegetation, enter the roofless houses and observe the different shapes of the corals. For me, it was a wonderful moment of the trip to the Emirates.
It is well signposted from the Umm al Quwain to Ras al Khaimah road . Just follow the Al Jazirah sign to the Hamra Heritage Village . However, Google Maps sends you on a path closer to the sea that involves a stretch of dirt road in good condition. Both can be done with any vehicle.
The entrance to the town is free. There are some restricted spaces for security reasons.
Dhayah is a strategic point overlooking some water-rich areas near the Al Hajar Mountains . It was a settlement area already in the Neolithic and has continued to this day. The mountains were a safe haven and you could grow crops in the wadis, so it was a prosperous area.
Dhayah Fort is a small fortification on a 60 meter promontory. There are about 200 steps to climb and the views are stunning. You will have a 360 degree panoramic view of the sea, the plantations and the mountains.
The ascent is made by stairs in good condition, but it is advisable to bring water because there is nothing to buy in the place. There is a small hotel opposite if you need a break.
Access is free, there are restrooms and parking for cars.
Ghalilah and the border with Oman
This area is unattractive from a heritage point of view. However, all the villages have a portion of wadi with groundwater that allows the cultivation of date palms. In my case, I went to Ghalilah to see the sea and the plantations. I warn you: there is a cement plant nearby that can be heard from the town.
There is also an excursion across the border to the Musandam Fjords . This organized activity allows you to enter Omani territory without problems. Includes transportation, meals, diving and hopefully you will see dolphins. To do it you need to stay a little longer in Ras al Khaimah.
Jebel Jais Mountain
After visiting Ras al Khaimah you have to climb the highest mountain in the United Arab Emirates . The Jebal Jais is 1934 meters and is between Ras al Khaimah and Oman.
The road leading up from the city is surprisingly lively. Many Emiratis come to the alluvial valleys, to picnic in the wadis , especially on weekends. It doesn’t seem like sitting on the side of the road on rocky ground is very bucolic, but at least it’s cool.