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Ras Al Khaimah Holiday Guide

Relatively undiscovered, the United Arab Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah rewards holidaymakers who venture to its shores with long stretches of sun-kissed beach and the bath-temperature waters of the Persian Gulf. For those who want more than sun, sea and sand, Ras Al Khaimah and the Emirate’s fledgling resorts don’t disappoint. The dramatic natural environment comes complete with vaulting mountain peaks, vast swathes of sandy desert and sweeping sand dunes, not to mention the city of Ras Al Khaimah and the natural lagoons that indent the coastline.

The emirate is working hard to develop its tourism industry and to raise its profile around the globe, so if you’re craving a relaxed sunshine break in what largely remains a tourism secret then visit ahead of the crowds.

Who goes there?

Well-heeled holidaymakers from around the globe are drawn to Ras Al Khaimah’s luxurious resort hotels, its outsized air-conditioned shopping malls and the chance to get active in the emirate’s natural environment.

More mature visitors and families with younger children tend to visit between November and March when temperatures are cooler.

Where in the world?

One of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ras al Khaimah is located at the northern end of the UAE’s Persian Gulf coast. It is 95km (62 miles) from Dubai, where the nearest airport is, and northeast of Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Sandwiched between the Hajar Mountains and the Arabian Gulf, Ras al Khaimah shares mountainous borders with Oman. It has a 40km- (27 mile-) coastline punctuated by golden sand beaches and tranquil lagoon.

When to go?

Ras al Khaimah experiences an arid subtropical climate and is sunny year round. The summer months can reach unbearably hot temperatures between June and September when it often reaches heights of 45°C (113°F). Temperatures throughout the rest of the year still remain warm being an average of 27°C (80°F) with the coolest months being December to March when there is a refreshing sea breeze and cooler nights. Rainfall is very rare, and when it does occur in the cooler months, it doesn’t last for very long.


When it comes to facilities and activities, the private beaches of Ras Al Khaimah’s resort hotels are hard to beat. Many boast natural lagoons, as well as a raft of watersports that encompass everything from body boarding and windsurfing to banana boat rides and wakeboarding. Diverse land-based activities include football and volleyball. Beyond the beach Myriad excursions can be organised through your resort hotel including 4-wheel desert safari and mountain drives, Ras Al Khaimah city tours, a trip to the camel races and swimming in the Khatt thermal springs. For something a little different join a guided one- or two-day mountain hike or take a dhow cruise to Oman’s Musandam peninsula.

Family fun

For kids and big kids alike the attractions of Ras al Khaimah are manifold, with hotels and resorts typically boasting swimming pools and private beaches, as well as a wealth of land- and sea-based activities. Dune bashing appeals to adventurous older children, while the Manar Mall (Al Gorm/Bridge Road) in Ras Al Khaimah city, with its multi-screen cinema to arcade games, has something to suit every family member.

Retail therapy

Boasting supermarkets, a multitude of shops, traditional souks and modern air-conditioned shopping malls, the city of Ras Al Khaimah is a shopper’s paradise. The Emirate’s premier shopping centre, the huge Manar Mall, is a great place for holidaymakers to stock up on everything from children’s wear and toys to jewellery, cosmetics and high street fashions. Here you’ll find familiar high street names alongside designer gear and luxurious items from around the globe.

A night on the town

For visitors and locals alike the nightlife in this fledgling resort is centred in Ras Al Khaimah’s luxurious resort hotels. Here holidaymakers can watch the belly dancers or smoke a shisha pipe, catch a live music performance, or simply enjoy a cocktail in a lounge bar. If you are after livelier nightlife some resort hotels have their own nightclubs.

Eating out

Like everything else in Ras Al Khaimah dining tends to be upscale, particularly in the evening when four- and five-star resort hotels pull out all the stops to offer romantic candlelit meals in Italian, Lebanese, international and seafood restaurants; for less formal dining during the day plump for pool bars and buffet restaurants. For a quick snack, Ras Al Khaimah’s shopping malls are a good bet.

Getting around Hotel shuttles and taxis are the easiest way of getting around Ras Al Khaimah city, with local tour operators running myriad excursions to destinations further afield. To get around under your own steam you’ll need to hire a car from the car rental desk at your resort hotel. Holidaymakers should check in advance for current regulations regarding car hire for non-UAE residents. Exploring further afield The larger than life emirate of Dubai is just 95km (62 miles) from Ras Al Khaimah. Visit the resort’s landmark sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, Dubai Creek and Jumeirah Mosque, absorb the sights and sounds of the city’s souks, or join in the holiday fun at the Wild Wadi Water Park.

Splashing out

Make the most of the watersports offered at Ras Al Khaimah’s seaside resort hotels and splash out on the sailing or water-skiing lessons. Alternatively take a sunset boat trip and admire Ras Al Khaimah from the gulf, or indulge in a massage treatment at one of the emirate’s hotel spas.

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