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Ras Al Khaimah: Discover the Arabia of Old

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Ras Al Khaimah: Discover the Arabia of Old

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A city of luxury and skyscrapers, Dubai gives tourists a thoroughly modern ride, with scant traces of its ancient past. For a real glimpse of Arabia of old, take the short drive from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah and discover a land of sand dunes, date farms, camels and an ancient world.

Visitors to Ras Al Khaimah today find brief glimpses of the ancient land that was settled in the third century B.C. by the Umm al-Nar people. People wearing traditional garb are common and celebrations are marked with authentic Arabian music and dance. The Dhayah Fort sits on top of a hill and is the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) oldest hilltop fort. A walk up the staircase treats visitors to spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, with its rugged mountains and scenic valleys.

The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah was built in the mid 18th century and was the official home of the Royal Family until 1964. The museum is filled with ancient artifacts and is the U.A.E.’s wealthiest monumental museum.

Pearl diving was Ras Al Khaimah ’s primary industry until a few years ago. A visit to former pearling port Al Jazirah Al Hamra, now a ghost town, showcases early 20th century architecture. To learn more about the region’s pearling past, visit the RAK Pearls Museum. The museum showcases dazzling pearls, including the “Miracle of Arabia” pearl, and chronicles the difficult life of pearl divers.

Pyramid inspired buildings dot the landscape along Ras Al Khaimah’s coast. For authentic Arabic experiences, visit the Bassat Desert Village. Traditional activities include camel riding, belly dancing, Arabic Tanoura and dune bashing. If your visit is during the October through March months, cheer for your favorites as you watch the camel races.

Ras Al Khaimah is a place to experience the past, but you can find all of the modern conveniences and attractions you need to relax and enjoy the trip. For example, Ras Al Khaimah’s Waldorf-Astoria opened in August of 2013. The beachfront hotel has 346 rooms, a cocktail bar, spa, several swimming pools and all of the typical Waldorf-Astoria amenities. The Banyan Tree Spa is 15-minutes from the city and sits in a lovely natural setting with wildlife, trees and native plants. Water sports, such as scuba diving, water skiing, fishing and sailing are popular visitor activities. Prince of Sea sailing trips offers a variety of cruises and water adventures, including dinner and sunset cruises, snorkeling and wildlife viewing. More adventurous visitors can rent a 4x4 and explore the surrounding dunes. If you are looking forward to a relaxing game of golf, you can do that, too. Ras Al Khaimah has two 18-hole championship golf courses that boast stunning mountain and beach views.

A vacation to Ras Al Khaimah is not only a way to experience a nearly extinct way of life; it’s also an incredible value. Hotel and restaurants prices are consistently more affordable in Ras Al Khaimah, sometimes as much as 40 percent lower. If you are looking for a vacation where you can relax, unwind and take in local culture, Ras Al Khaimah is the place to be.

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