The record-breaking ‘nature’ Emirate of the UAE offers unmatched experiences from sea to mountain and is launching a wealth of exciting new activities and accommodation.
Ras Al Khaimah, UAE: Ras Al Khaimah is set for another record-breaking season as it begins to welcome visitors for the outdoor months, following its highest visitor numbers ever in the first six months of 2023.
Known as the ‘nature’ Emirate, Ras Al Khaimah presents an unparalleled destination filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, exhilarating activities, and diverse hotel options, ideal for every kind of holiday. Located 45-min from Dubai International Airport and with direct flights from Jeddah to Ras Al Khaimah International Airport via Air Arabia, it has never been easier to discover this fascinating part of the UAE.
The terrain is thrillingly varied, with pristine beaches, lush mangroves, and terracotta dunes, as well as fertile, green oases and the dramatic vistas of the majestic Hajar mountains, home to the UAE’s highest mountain peak, Jebel Jais, where sky-high adventures await.
Mountain: As the adventure hub of the Middle East, Jebel Jais stands almost 2,000 metres above sea level and features an array of exciting activities for visitors of all ages and abilities. For those seeking adrenaline-filled days, there is the exhilarating Jais Adventure Park, home to Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline, as well as the Jais Sky Tour, a route of six zip lines, and Jais Sledder, the region’s longest toboggan ride.
New for 2023 is the Via Ferrata (Italian for ‘iron path’) route, which offers a blend of rock climbing and mountaineering, across a breathtaking part of the protected rugged Hajar Mountain range. Nature lovers can also explore the vast mountain range on foot, as Ras Al Khaimah is home to the longest network of hiking trails in the UAE. Visitors can tread the very same unbeaten paths as participants of the ‘Highlander long-distance Hiking Challenge’ which will take place in the Emirate in February 2024.
In addition, a true ‘back to nature’ experience is on offer at the incredible Bear Grylls Explorers Camp which offers survival courses and activities to challenge adventurers of all ages. The only camp like it in the world, visitors can spend a day taking part in challenging activities before dining around a flickering campfire and experiencing sleeping outdoors under the stars in tents or cabins.
And, if taking flight or trekking across the mountains does not appeal, there are options to enjoy the epic scenery at a more relaxed pace. Take a rest and a bite at the UAE’s highest restaurant, 1484 by Puro, where delicious cuisine is served with breathtaking views.
Desert experiences: Magical desert experiences await in Ras Al Khaimah’s unique terracotta desert. The Al Wadi Nature Reserve boasts the stunning Ritz Carlton resort, offering private villas with breath-taking views, plus desert treks on camels and horseback riding at Al Wadi Equestrian Center, private archery lessons and a falcon show. For those seeking decadent dining under the stars, visitors can enjoy Sonara Camp, a luxurious dining and entertainment experience set in the natural beauty of Al Wadi desert, with herds of Oryx and Gazelles as dinner companions.
Explorers looking to get a bird’s eye view of Ras Al Khaimah can experience ActionFlight’s brand-new hot-air balloon experience featuring awe-inspiring views of the Emirate’s breath-taking natural landscapes. Set aloft the Al Wadi desert, the 450,000 cubic feet balloon stands at a colossal 34.6m. Guests can marvel at the illuminated desert dunes, majestic Hajar mountains and glistening coastline and – if they’re lucky – spot special appearances from the indigenous wildlife.
By the sea: With a wide choice of accommodation, from ultra-luxurious beach resorts managed by some of the most notable names in the business, to family-friendly and affordable hotels – Ras Al Khaimah offers its visitors the best in hospitality on its pristine coastline alongside a host of thrilling watersports.
World-class hotels and resorts include properties such as Waldorf Astoria, Hilton, Rixos, Rotana, Ritz-Carlton, Radisson as well as the world’s largest Hampton Resort by Hilton. Opened in 2022, InterContinental Mina Al Arab offers island living amongst the exquisite landscapes and hospitality of modern Arabia, and Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island, located on a 300-metre stretch of golden shoreline is home to the largest floating water park in Ras Al Khaimah.
Banan Beach, a glamping resort located on Al Marjan Island, offers a laid back beach getaway featuring tepee tents located around a central firepit, private chalets, family-friendly attractions and barbeque areas. Additionally, Longbeach Campground brings together traditional camping ethos with luxurious amenities and engaging activities — creating an immersive glamping experience.
Local culture and heritage: With a rich history that dates back to the Bronze Age, Ras Al Khaimah boasts an impressive heritage and rich cultural history, making the Emirate one of the oldest continuously habited regions in the world for over 7,000 years.
There are more than 100 archaeological sites and 65 forts to discover, and Ras Al Khaimah is the only Emirate in the UAE to have four historical locations – Julfar, Shimal, Al Jazeera Al Hamra and Dhayah –in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)’s tentative list of Global Heritage Sites.
Culture seekers and history buffs can explore the history of pearling in the region at the Suwaidi Pearl Farm, the only pearl farm in the UAE. Located at the foot of the expansive Al Hajar mountain range, the farm showcases the country’s proud tradition of pearl diving.
Visitors can learn about the historic significance of pearling, and gain insight into the lives of pearl divers, pearl cultivation and the harvesting process. Visitors can board a traditional pearling boat for a tranquil journey through verdant mangroves to reach the floating pearl farm where they get an opportunity to experience the thrill of opening their own oyster and checking for pearls.
Ras Al Khaimah welcomed 600K visitors between January and June 2023, an increase of 14.8% versus H1 2022, generating the highest ever tourism-related revenue for a half-year period. And a wealth of plans to further enhance the emirate’s exceptional offering are underway, including the USD $3.9 billion Wynn Al Marjan Island set to open in early 2027, as well as the opening of Le Meridien, Nobu, Westin and W hotel.
The ultra-luxurious Anantara Mina Al Arab will welcome guests from Q4 2023, and the family-friendly Sofitel Al Hamra will open in early 2024.