As the northernmost member of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah is appropriately named, as it means “top of the tent.” This less developed yet most scenic emirate has stunning views from the Hajar Mountains that slope from the north into the sea: the rocky desert cut through by wadi (valleys), long stretches of red sand dunes, clean public beaches. Indeed, the varied and natural scenery is one of Ras Al Khaimah’s unique offerings; in less than 30 minutes one can drive through rocky mountainous areas and desert sands to the sea shore.
Being an hour away from Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah is packed on weekends and holidays with adventure lovers who want to make the most of its natural attractions. Desert safaris, mountain biking and off-road driving are common sports. Hiking will allow one to visit the mountain village of the Bedouin tribe of Al Shihi, where one can witness their indigenous way of life. History buffs would enjoy peeking at the ancient tombs in Shamal.
Aside from tourism, stone quarrying and cement-making, the emirate relies on farming and fishing. The town of Digdaga near the capital runs a massive modern farm, providing fresh vegetables, fruits, poultry and dairy products to the rest of the UAE.
Ras Al Khaimah
The capital city, divided in two by a creek, teems with mangroves, ensuring an abundant marine and bird population. It has a deep water port, Mina Saqr, with transhipping, cargo and container handling facilities.
Road traffic in Ras Al Khaimah is primarily light. The Emiratis here are quite friendly, and a bit more traditional than those in the more visited emirates. Modern conveniences are available in hotels, restaurants, pubs, cinemas, supermarkets, and shopping centres that have sprung up in the capital, which also has a decent museum and a local art group. Products here are more affordable than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Health care facilities, as well as the general standard of living, are on par with those of the other emirates. Many expats choose to work and live here despite the lack of urban glamour. They like to hang out at the Sailing Club, and golfing is another popular outdoor sport. The weather is another incentive, since the city is cooled by the mountains.
Housing options here are getting better, as the emirate is embarking on real estate developments not just for investment properties but for actual residence. The expat population here is growing, attracted by the reasonable rental rates. Most apartments are spacious and family-friendly. Only a few neighbourhoods have residential villas, as most locals live in apartment complexes.