Ras al Khaimah is definitely one of my favourite Emirates, being slighlty busier than Fujairah, it still manages to keep its small town charme. R.A.K. is filled with an incredibly interesting history and Al Jazirat Al Hamra, the Ras Al Khaimah ghost town is one of the most historical places in the United Arab Emirates. This abandoned village is filled with beauty, rich in history and it shows the life of the Al Zaabi tribe before the discovery of oil.
Al Jazirat Al Hamra means literally translated the red island. The village was created in the 14th century and ruled by the Za’ab tribe which is now known as the Al Zaabi family. The inhabitants mainly depended on pearl diving, which was the main industry of the United Arab Emirates with over 80000 males working as pearl divers in 1917. In 1930 Japan started their cultured pearl industry causing the pearl diving industry in the U.A.E. to decline. This resulted in a horrible crisis with many men searching for work abroad and others starving. In the 1950’s everything changed with the discovery of oil. With the new found opportunities the government of Abu Dhabi offered the inhabitants of Jazirat Al Hambra a better future in Abu Dhabi, so people left behind their houses for a new life at the other end of the United Arab Emirates.
Jazirat Al Hamrah today is completely abandoned, with the exception of one labourer camp at the beginning of the village. It is said that at night the djinn take over the village and most people would not dare to enter Al Hamra at night. One of the less horrifying stories is about the tree in the picture above, apparently many, many people have tried to cut down the tree unsuccessfully. The tree next to it and most other trees in the Jazirat Al Hamra have been cut down, but this particular tree can be seen from almost anywhere in the village, even at night. It is said that they have asked mutawwas to help and cut the tree but the djinn in it are too strong.
As you can see in the picture the older houses and walls are built with seashells, corals, stones and sand creating a sandcastle village. It is so interesting to see how beautiful homes were built with such limited sources. The houses were built in a traditional way with all rooms facing the court yard, often with henna plants growing in them. The alleys between the houses are sometimes very narrow, although it is possible to drive through most of Jazirat Al Hamra and explore the ghost town’s hospital, several mosques, beautiful court yards, wooden doors and wind towers.