Let’s face it, COVID-19 is driving us all stir-crazy. After all, we’ve been cooped up for the best part of the last year. But with successful vaccine rollouts already underway, life is finally showing signs of returning to normal.
With borders slowly reopening and cities around the globe relying on us to replenish the economy, it’s the perfect time for us to dust off our passports and book a great adventure for 2021. For a holiday destination that will leave family and friends envious, why not head to the hidden gem of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah?
As one of the lesser hyped emirates, you may be wondering why to prioritise it over the more popular Dubai. Although it has kept a lower profile until recently, RAK is actually overflowing with hidden holiday potential that you’d be mad to miss.
Not convinced? Here’s 4 reasons you need to visit Ras Al Khaimah this year.
1) The Local Arts Scene
Supported by the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, RAK has come leaps and bounds in terms of its cultural and artistic events. Held annually since 2009, the non-profit The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival is a great chance for local and international artists to get together to showcase their work. From photography to sculpture, film and paintings, you’ll be able to take in the art scene against the breath-taking backdrop of the recently restored Al Jazirah Al Hamra Heritage Village.
Even if you’re not in town in time for the festival, the city is home to The Al Qasimi Foundation’s Studio & Gallery, which is open all year round and frequently hosts exhibitions and workshops for both locals and tourists. Much of the art focuses on UAE specific themes, which will give you a fantastic glimpse into the country’s culture.
2) It’s like an Adventure Playground
If you’re more into thrills than museums, RAK still has something for you! Start by climbing to the top of RAK’s highest mountain, Jebel Jais, where you can have a go on the world’s longest zipline. Travelling at speeds of between 120-150kph and at an amazing height of 1,680, it’s not for the faint of heart!
Recently, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority also announced the opening of the Jais Adventure Peak, a set of heart-stopping attractions sitting atop Jebel Jais.For example, the Jais Sky Tour, which lets tourists glide through the canyons using seven zip-lines that operate over a 5km radius and end in a 15 metre sky bridge, which is perfect for photography.
If you’ve got kids, the Jais Sky Maze is a more family friendly option. Just 10 metres above the ground, it still boasts swaying bridges, rope swings and more without being too daunting.
3) The Wildlife
If you’re an animal lover, Ras Al Khaimah has plenty to offer. Why not start by checking out the beaches? Many are known as sea turtle nesting sites – sign up for a night tour to watch these beautiful creatures make the journey up the beach to lay their eggs in the sand. Additionally, over 80 varied species of both whales and dolphins can be sported off-shore.
Next, head off the beaten track and indulge in an overnight camping trip. These overnight camping tours set you up in an igloo tent so you can observe the glorious desert and its natural flora and fauna after dusk. Many tours are also happy to arrange a camel ride throughout the majestic landscape.
Located just north of Rak, serious nature lovers can find the Ritz-Carlton, Al Wadi Desert, a 5 star resort set right in the middle of a 500 hectare nature reserve. While you’re enjoying the hospitality of the resort, you can expect to catch glimpses of gazelles, vipers and even red foxes, all from a safe distance. There are also plenty of bird watching opportunities, with the Al Wadi Desert playing host to over 28 species, including the native Arabian babbler.
4) The Accommodation is Top Notch
Despite being considerably cheaper than Dubai, the extravagant accommodation options in RAK will make you feel like a celebrity. RAK Al Khaimah is known for its gorgeous beachside getaways, from the Ritz-Carlton nature resort to the well-known Hilton and Waldorf Astoria chains. Most of these locations have optional pampering services on sit to help you really relax, from massages to beauty treatments.
If you’re heading to UAE for the holidays, do yourself a favor and pencil in Ras Al Khaimah at the top of your list for an unbeatable experience.