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Rocky Mountains of Ras Al Khaimah

October 21, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Vacationers from other emirates go to Ras Al Khaimah for leisure. Unlike the sand dunes and sea that are common to all the seven emirates, Ras al Khaimah’s uniqueness is in its vast Hajjar Mountains, literally, the Rocky Mountains. We had reached the highest peak Jebel Al Jais, at an hour’s drive out of the Ras al Khaimah town. Rugged mountains with beautifully patterned stones are a major asset to the rising emirate.

The Northern Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is one of the seven emirates that make up the federation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Earlier, we had arrived early in the morning at the simple, old, Sharjah International Airport to go to RAK. Cool officers at the immigration took their own time in clearing visitors with the eye ball click. Arrival of many of Air Arabia flights from India at the same time added to long queues.

Hajjar mountains in Ras Al Khaima

Outside the airport, the vast expanse of sandy terrain was glowing at the sunrise. We had jumped onto the cool interiors of the shuttle van to be driven out to RAK.  The fast and smooth drive over the next 40 minutes on the six lane Shah Mohammad Bin Zayed highway offered our first sights of sand dunes, palm trees and camel herds.  Mild colours of bungalows and row houses blended well with surrounding environs.

After a quick bite, check-in and a fresh up at Bin Majid Beach Hotel, we had set out to rocky mountains that RAK is known for.

National Museum, Ras Al Khaima

The new road, hardly a year old, had led us to Jebel Al Jais (literally, The Gypsum Mountains) peak at above 1900 meters, where we could view many layers of sheer mountains that seemed to merge into the horizon. Our guide Shafique said that the mountains continued into neighboring Oman, whose border was another 30 minutes drive away, and much beyond.

We liked the bare mountains, devoid of any constructions. Climbed down to a flat bed prepared for constructing an eco-friendly resort and screamed into the deep valleys to hear the echoes. New road access has growing visitor numbers. To cater to their needs, a few flat tops were being readied for setting up restaurants. These had remains of charcoal pieces, proving their popularity for barbecue evenings with visitors.

Pearl sorting and weighing equipme ... splayed at the National Museum

View on one side was shrouded by the clouds that seemed to hang from the mountain edge. Besides being tourist attractions for the long drive along the winding roads, these mountains have been mined to provide construction materials throughout the Gulf, which is mostly flat, sandy terrain. Rich mortar from the mountains is used as a plaster for the buildings, hence the strong exteriors of sand colour. Hajjar provides the raw material for RAK ceramics, the world’s largest manufacturer of ceramics and porcelain tiles. RAK has exported aggregate, limestone, clinker and cement to famous projects in Dubai such as Burj Khalifa and the Palm Jumeirah.

View from Jebel Al Jais, Ras Al Khaima

On the way down, we noticed a new dam being built for water catchment during the rains. Wondered how the villagers with stone homes in the deep valleys reached and survived in those remote places. Those people must be strong and enduring, just like the mountains they are surrounded with. Many goats grazed the ghaf tree shrubs by the wayside.

Back in the city, it was time to learn more about RAK at the National Museum. The museum is an impressive two-storied stone fort dating back to the 18th century. It is covered with gypsum plaster. It was originally the residence of the Al Qasimi Royal family until 1964. The museum exhibits a variety of fascinating relics and fossils that substantiate the human settlement in the region since 2500 BC. Fishing, agriculture and pearl diving have been traditional occupations of RAK. An aerial view of RAK city was available from the museum’s wind tower.

Clouds touching the Hajjar mountain peaks

Hour long hydrotherapy at the Banyan Tree Al Wadi was a nice way to relax after a hectic day. The Rainwalk at 4000 sqm Asian inspired spa involves 13 rounds of alternating cold, hot, sprinkler, shower, sauna, steam, Jacuzzi and pool experience that stretched for an hour.

Arabic barbecue style dinner at Bassata Desert Village with a belly dance show, Egyptian Tanoura and henna tattoos, drew curtains to our day memorable mountain trip. Guide Shafique mentioned that the aerial view of Hajjar Mountains was possible through a solo micro aircraft ride at Al Jazira Aviation Club. That is set aside for our next trip of Ras Al Khaimah.

Written by : Anand & Madhura Katti

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