Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Nestled between the Hajar mountains on the east and the Arabian Gulf on the west, the emirate of Ras al Khaimah (or RAK as it is commonly called), which literally means “top of the tent” in Arabic, lies within the northernmost part of the UAE. Endowed with a diverse landscape consisting of miles of sandy coastline in the west, the desert plains bounded by the Hajar mountains in the east and a green belt in the south with flourishing date palms and vegetable gardens, the fourth-largest emirate is home to tranquil lagoons, golden beaches, mountains and virgin desert terrain.
Its enticing combination of fertile plains, scenic mountains, white beaches and mangroves has lured settlers for several millennia, with archaeological investigations showing that trade has been an essential part of life in the area since at least 5000 BC. Since then, Ras al Khaimah has been variously named Julfar, Majan and Al Seer, and was widely known throughout the Gulf for its commercial activity. But its prosperity also made it a prime target for a long series of invading powers. You can still see the remains of numerous historic fortresses, castles and towers, which bear testimony to Ras al Khaimah’s turbulent history.