If you are at Dhayah Fort or at the Qalat Dhayah Rest House you might have the time to look at two other things. (You probably won’t make an extra trip to Dhayah to see those sites, but if you are already there, it might be a nice add-on.)
In the plane south of Dhayah Fort there are archeological remains of several ancient tombs from the Wadi Suq period (2000-1600 BC). The sites are easy to identify, as they have been individually fenced. And while these sites might not be overly impressive to the eye, they are amongst the oldest archeological heritage in the Emirates. Several artifacts found at these sites can be viewed in the National Museum in RAK.
The tombs at the southern part of the site near the mountain slope are in a bit a better condition than the rest of the tombs.
North of Dhayah you can find some ruins of abandoned houses. Here – in my view – the surrounding mountains are probably more impressive than the ruins.
In Shimal there are two archeological sites: The ruins of the palace of the queen of Sheeba on a hill above Shimal can be a nice location for a sunset view. You can reach the palace using the stairs that seem like an unfinished project: The stairs start and end just somewhere at the hill, so you will have to make the start and end of the way on your own: Especially on the top there is no real path, but it not too difficult to climb the last few meters up to the palace.
The Umm an-Nar Tomb is right besides the road and easy accessible. It is an archeological site and dates back more than 4000 years.
At both sites there are of course only a few stones to see. But still these places give testimony to the history of the region. For more information see the following flyers from RAK Heritage:
The Museum of the Navigator Ahmed bin Majid is a semi-private collection of maritime items filling three rooms. Amongst other things you will find lots of corals, shells and shell mosaics together with some traditional fishing, diving and sailing items. There are also some traditional agricultural and household tools.
On the walls there are paintings depicting the battles with the British as well as photos showing several (ruins of) historic buildings in the emirate.
As the name already indicates, the museum is part of a society center. So you might find the people you meet there at least as interesting, as the items in the museum. And while the presentation in the museum might sometimes not be optimal, there is a very nice printed catalog available.
Opening hours are Saturday to Thursday 8:30 to 12:00 and 16:30 to 18:00. You might want to check for any changes by calling 07 228 8226.
While the Al Hamra Marina is well known, the original port side is at Al Jazeera. Here, at the backside of Al Jazeera you will find Hamad Q. Alzaabi’s diving and swimming center.
With a team of eight instructors the diving center offers
discover scuba and swimming in the open water near the marina
boat rentals for fun trips, diving and fishing (in shallow or deep waters)
swimming classes in the pool
diving equipment for sale or rent
four guest rooms (tidy, but rather basic)
You can also rent the pool or other parts of the diving center, if you want to organize a private party there.
The diving center is refreshingly authentic and a noticeable contrast to Al Hamra Village and its hotels. That includes, that you have to leave the paved road to reach the diving center. And while you should not expect to find some fancy luxury, the service is very personal and cordial.
From October to January camel races are normally held every Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the camel track at the Al Swan Race Club in Ras al Khaimah. The races typically start at 7:00 in the morning. And while you have to get up early, you will on the other hand also see the sun rising.
There are no human jockeys but only robots. The person controlling the robot drives in a car along the track. As some spectators also follow the racing camels in their cars, the armada of cars easily outnumbers the camels actually running the race. That all together creates an unusual atmosphere, as the human interaction and enthusiasm are not observable for the spectator. You can however join the spectacle and drive along with your own car. And that again makes the races in Ras al Khaimah rather special: It is not a closed event, but the races are easy accessible. That allows for a very close-up impression of camel racing. And of course you will see lots of other (non-racing) camels everywhere.
The races follow a more or less circular path. The finish line is near the entrance gate, the start is a bit down the track and my be at different points for different races. (You will easily find it, as that is where the main action is happening.)
Note: The actual dates and timings of the bigger races are a bit tricky to figure out. But I will try my best to get the schedule and update this post, once the data is available.
The Qalat Dhayah rest house and the surrounding palm grove is a place where you can catch a glimpse of what so often seems to be lost in the Emirates: Authenticity.
There are more than 2000 palm trees (belonging to more than 50 different cultivars) in the grove. It is operated in a traditional and completely ecological and eco-friendly way: The only fertilizer used is manure. The water used is ground water – and the grove is lauded as an example for responsible and sustainable ground water usage. In fact, water is the true basis of this paradise and the foundation of its wealth. This is also shown by the various swimming pools in the rest house and in the palm grove.
To add to all of that, Dhayah is a place deeply rooted in history: The Dhayah Fort is the only still existing hilltop fort in the UAE. It was built in the 19th century on top of the foundations of a much older structure. Settlements in Dhayah existed already 5000 years ago and there are several ancient tombs and archeological sites in Dhayah.
If you are lucky, you might even get a chance to meet Ali Mansouri, the owner and mastermind behind the place. Not only is he – besides lots of other things – a very experienced date farmer and diplomat, but he is also a great host, whose humble kindness and good-spirited humor are at least as fascinating as the whole place itself.
The rest house offers 14 bedrooms for guests and has several big halls and terraces. Two things need to be mentioned: The bathrooms are extremely basic and the rest house does not operate a restaurant. For booking inquiries (or to buy dates) call +971 7 266 3888.
The Dhayah Fort is the only still existing hilltop fort in the UAE. While settlements in the Dhayah area date back at least 5000 years, todays fort was build in the 19th century on the ruins of a former fort, which was the last point of resistance in Ras al Khaimah against the British troops in 1819. The fort was restored in 1990.
Located on the top of a hill in front of the mountains the fort offers a good view of the surrounding palm groves and the bay of Dhayah up to the coast line. It is a quite nice place to watch the sunset.
The fort can easily be reached through a concrete staircase starting atthe parking lot in front of the Qalat Dhayah Rest House. And one should definitely combine a visit to the fort with a visit to the palm grove at the Qalat Dhayah Rest House. If you have more time, you can also visit the ancient tombs nearby.