There was a time when discussions about the United Arab Emirates were mostly limited to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the wealthiest political divisions in this Arab country, but the world is slowly beginning to discover Ras Al Khaimah, the new jewel of the Persian Gulf. Unlike Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah does not enjoy crude oil production on a large scale, but it has been able to elevate its economic and human development profile to very high levels, and this has a lot to do with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi.
His Highness is a leader whose education and training is based on economics and business development; as a member of the Ras Al Khaimah Royal Family, one of his earliest government administration posts involved leading the municipal council of RAK City, and this is where he began to realize that his native emirate had great potential for economic development despite the absence of petroleum fortune. Since the late 1980s, Ras Al Khaimah has been gradually climbing the economic ladder of the Middle East region, a journey that can be described as an example of strategic business planning.
The View from the “Top of the Tent”
Driving from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah will take you less than an hour. You could also fly from the international airport in Dubai to RAK City, but you really want to see this country from the ground because then you get to experience the changes in altitude and climate. RAK enjoys more rainfall than the other emirates, and temperatures tend to be lower; for this reason, you get to see more vegetation and wildlife. The beaches are covered in white sand, and they tend to be more pristine than in other coastal areas of the UAE.
This part of the world is rich with ancient history; it has been continuously inhabited for seven millenniums, and was once the center of Julfar culture. In Arabic, the name Ras Al Khaimah means “top of the tent,” an allusion to the emirate’s northernmost geographical position in the UAE, not far from the lower Strait of Hormuz region. The name is also a reference to the Bedouin tribes that used to travel to this land for the purpose of finding the perfect oasis for rest and relaxation.
It is easy to think of Ras Al Khaimah as a large oasis where life is good and the locals are welcoming; this is part of an ambitious tourism development plan that the emirate has undertaken since about 2015, and it is paying off nicely, but there are other interesting aspects of life in RAK that you should know before visiting.
The Positive Development of Ras Al Khaimah
As previously mentioned, RAK is run like an efficient business. When His Highness decided that the time was right for launching the emirate into the 21st century, he explored opportunities for industrial development, which resulted in the establishment of RAK Ceramics and RAK Rock, two sovereign companies that have become leaders in the construction materials sector. This distinction pivoted into providing civil engineering and construction services around the Persian Gulf, which means that RAK companies not only provide raw materials but also the know-how and labor needed to build maritime ports.
Ceramics production means being able to manufacture China clay, a major composite material used in the pharmaceutical industry, and this resulted in the founding of Julphar, the largest Gulf company dedicated to medication research and production. Since Julphar is already operating in the health sciences sector, the HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi Foundation, a charitable arm of the RAK government, has chartered a higher learning institution dedicated to training healthcare professionals as well as medical researchers. See how one business endeavor leads to another? This is the path that RAK has successfully followed, and the time has come to pivot into tourism.
Thanks to the economic development of Ras Al Khaimah, residents of this emirate have fostered their own sense of community, and they are excited to welcome international tourists. When you visit RAK, you will not only fall in love with the place but also with the nice and friendly people who would like to see you return. Similar to Dubai, the RAK tourism industry offers plenty of luxury, but the ambiance is more relaxed and family-friendly. If you want to get to know Arabian culture at its finest and friendliest, be sure to visit Ras Al Khaimah.