The Wanderers in conversation with Mohamed Khater
Everything the guide books or tourism websites won’t tell you about the place.
One little known fact/trivia that everyone should know about when travelling to Ras Al Khaimah?
Ras Al Khaimah is a unique destination for visitors of all ages. With its 416,600 population this rising emirate boasts of beautiful mountains, red sandy desert and lush green plains along with a series of creeks and lagoons. It has a rich heritage dating back 5,000 years, which manifests in numerous historical sites, forts and abandoned villages. The Emirati culture is omnipresent in Ras Al Khaimah and you will be welcomed with the warm Arabic hospitality wherever you go.
What is a must buy when in Ras Al Khaimah?
Arabic Coffee with Cardamom
One take-away after a visit to Ras Al Khaimah?
Colorful sand packed in bottles sold as souvenirs
What is your advice to first time travellers?
Whilst 80% of the population of the United Arab Emirates is made up of non-UAE nationals, it is good to remember that this is a Muslim country and local traditions and customs are recommended to be respected.
One thing to definitely pack when travelling to Ras Al Khaimah?
Swim-wear. And enjoy the best beaches in the UAE!
One activity anyone travelling to Ras Al Khaimah should not miss.
Prince Of Sea Cruise
Where should anyone, travelling to RAK, definitely get their picture taken.
Ras Al Khaimah’s rich archeological legacy is distinguished by many unique features such as old forts and watch towers scattered along its coasts line. Dhayah Fort is one of only a few remaining hill forts still existing in the UAE. The fort was place of the last battle between local troops and the British in 1819.
Location: Al Rams
Which is the best place to get a panoramic photo?
Ras Al Khaimah – Dhayah Fort
Take a flight at Jazirah Aviation Club for a stunning photos over Ras Al Khaimah. It is truly amazing experience to fly lightweight airplanes or powered parachutes and please your eyes with the magnificent views of the desert, sea and city area of Ras Al Khaimah. This exciting experience is safe and suitable for everyone of normal health.
Best place to enjoy sunset/sunrise?
Definitely the beach.
Most romantic place to take a special someone to?
Safran Tower. Celebrate magical Arabian nights with your beloved in the sphere of a resort sanctuary. Lean back and relax as your dedicated chef expertly prepares a tantalising spread of oriental specialties. The dramatic Safran Tower, constructed in the style of a traditional Arabian watchtower, provides you the perfect vantage point from which to absorb the beguiling sandscape of desert beauty.
Best place to have local food?
Al Marjan is an eclectic fusion of tradition and quirky modern interiors and the finest Middle Eastern Cuisine. With menus created by the famed Joe Barza from Lebanon and art created by Sasan Nasernia, this restaurant is truly a joy for all the senses. Appraise the elegant menu whilst enjoying various seating and lighting designs in the restaurant. Oversized settee seating under eccentric ceiling decorations, formal dining, intimate corners and a private dining room are complemented by sublime sunset views over the Arabian Sea.
Your favorite local dish and drink that you would recommend?
The range and scope of Emirati food was traditionally very limited since produce was scarce in this extremely arid environment. Bedouin survived on camel milk and dates on long treks through the desert. Fish was plentiful on the coast and any excess was salted and dried, finding its way inland to the desert and oases. Here, date palms flourished, some fruits, vegetables and cereals were grown, and sheep and goats were raised. Despite the fact that ingredients were few, Emirati cooks were inventive, concocting a variety of dishes from very little.
Foreign influences also shaped the local cuisine: the dhows that carried pearls to India and elsewhere came back laden with spices and later rice. And so today, Emirati food is characterised by a unique spice mix bezr and usually features rice. Cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, black peppercorns and chilies are the basic ingredients, but each family has its own ‘secret’ recipe.
Traditionally the bezr that was mixed inland was milder than that used on the coast. Considering the lack of ingredients, a surprisingly wide variety of breads were made, ranging from the pancake-like chebab to crispy, wafer-thin regag and leavened khmeer. This was the standard carbohydrate before rice became popular.
In many cases yeast was not available so dates were fermented in the sun to act as a raising agent. Bread was often eaten with butter, cream cheese made from goat’s milk, or honey. Arabic coffee (gahwa) flavoured with cardamom epitomised the hospitality of the desert where even your enemy was served at least one cup.
An expansive hospitality was also evident on festive occasions where food was prepared in large quantities for guests. Khuzi (a stuffed whole roast lamb or goat, on a bed of spiced rice) would have been served at the mansaf (traditional bedouin feast). This would have been the centerpiece of a selection of food which would have been placed on a mat surrounded by guests.
Today, dishes such as machboos (a delicious casserole of lamb or chicken with rice) is a particular favorite in the UAE. So too are diyai mashwi (grilled marinated chicken), hareis (slow-cooked wheat and lamb) and baryani (meat or fish cooked with Indian-style spiced rice). Dates, of course, are a standard staple and dibs (date syrup) is used to flavour both savoury and sweet dishes.
One place only the locals would know?
Digdaga Camel Race Track
Camel race is one of the cultural traditions in the UAE. In Ras Al Khaimah the Camel race takes place during the main season from late September until March or April. A fast camel can win its owner several 4x4s in a season and sell for millions of dirhams. However, in summer the adult camels are expected to rest. This ensures good health and increases the prospect of big wins next season.
The best pub and best place to catch up for a drink?
TRADER VIC’S MAI TAI LOUNGE
Enter the Home of the Original Mai Tai® and indulge in a true tropical Polynesian experience in Ras Al Khaimah. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge is a spacious chill-out lounge and restaurant where friends can sink into comfy sofas and sip the perfect combination of exotic concoctions. Choose from the best selection of island style tidbits, ideal for sharing, and take in the spectacular views.
A local festival you feel more travelers should come and see?
Awafi motor ride festival that is held annually. There are children play areas, bull fighting, camel riding, football tournaments, horse racing, 4×4 dune bashing desert off road competitions, motor cycling shows and heritage village.
The things guide books will not tell anyone about Ras Al Khaimah?
Arabian Oryx, horns are so symmetrical that they appear as one if seen in profile, it is assumed that the Oryx was the origin of the legendary unicorn.
Is there any particular month you would not recommend travel to Ras Al Khaimah and what would that reason be?
The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah receives year-round sunshine, little rainfall and nearly perfect winter temperatures. It enjoys a moderate, cool and refreshing climate for 8 months of the year between October and May. High temperatures can be expected for the remaining 4 months of the year. Rainfall is sporadic, falling mainly in winter (November to March) and averaging 12cms per year in most of the emirate. Temperatures range from a low of around 12°C (50°F) on a winter’s night, to a high of around 42°C (118°F) on a summer’s day. The best time to visit Ras Al Khaimah is during winter and mid-season months. The weather is excellent, warm, sunny and generally pleasant.
In one sentence, Ras Al Khaimah is Escape, explore and enjoy!
I work in the region from 2009, I was in several positions in other Tourism Sectors and I joined Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority last March. I don’t know if this is helpful or not!