By Nourah Khan
Exclusive to The Times Kuwait

When we plan our vacations, even if it is a short, quick one, many of us do not think about visiting our neighboring Gulf countries. Instead we turn our attention and make elaborate plans to travel to more distant locations. Perhaps this is because of familiarity with customs, cultures and cuisines of our neighbors, and a desire to try something new. Or it could be because we have come to believe that we will not find appropriate pleasures for us to enjoy in these countries.

Either way, we are missing out on visiting, exploring and experiencing some of the best travel gems that lie hidden in our immediate neighborhood. I discovered this travel truth during a recent visit to Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. The enchanting emirate is replete with exciting and alluring travel experiences, the full potential of which is only being discovered by travelers from around the world. I encourage everyone to pay a visit to this ‘off-the-beaten-path’ locale in the UAE.

So let us embark on a journey to explore the charming tourism gems of Ras Al Khaimah, over a quick weekend break. There are no direct flights from Kuwait to Ras Al Khaimah, so my best choice was to fly to Sharjah, with Air Arabia, which provides daily flights to Sharjah, and from there it took about 45 minutes by car to get to Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah, where I chose to stay in one of the island’s hotels, the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel.

Located in the far north of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah is a destination that offers a unique blend of rich history, stunning landscapes, an amazing coastline, majestic mountains and countless exciting activities. With its thriving cultural scene,Ras Al Khaimah has become a must-visit tourist destination.

Al Marjan Island, where I stayed, is a man-made archipelago, a popular leisure and residential destination known for its luxury resorts.There is a selection of fine restaurants on the island, including Italian, Turkish and Asian restaurants.

Ras Al Khaimah boasts an abundance of natural wonders. The rugged Hajar Mountains offer breathtaking scenery to tourists, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in activities such as hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking. For a truly magical experience, there is also the trek to Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the United Arab Emirates, which offers breathtaking views and exciting adventures.

Among the experiences that I enjoyed in Jebel Jais is riding the longest zipline in the world at an altitude of 1,680 meters, where you will slide at a speed ranging between 120 and 150 km for about three minutes over deep valleys. I also enjoyed dining at 1484 by Puro Restaurant in Jebel Jais, which is considered the highest restaurant in the United Arab Emirates, with a height of 1,484 meters above sea level.

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‘Get More’ out of travel at Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah’s picturesque coastline offers pristine sandy beaches, where visitors can relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy water sports such as snorkeling, diving, and sailing. Ras Al Khaimah is also proud of its rich cultural heritage, which can be explored through its historical sites and museums.

I paid a visit to the Ras Al-Khaimah Museum, which is located in a fort dating back to the eighteenth century. The museum displays artifacts that depict the history of the region and its traditional way of life. The emirate is also known for its diverse wildlife, and a visit to the Ras Al Khaimah Nature Reserve allows visitors to see indigenous animals and plants in their natural habitat.

But if you are the type who seeks an adrenaline rush, Ras Al Khaimah offers a plethora of adventure activities as well, including dune bashing in the desert, quad biking or sand boarding in the vast expanses of the Arabian desert.

Ras Al Khaimah boasts a wide range of world-class resorts and hotels that cater to discerning travelers. From luxury beachfront properties to eco-friendly resorts nestled amidst nature, there is something for everyone. Luxury hotels offer a range of amenities, including spas, fine dining restaurants, and private beaches, ensuring an enjoyable and memorable stay. Taking a cruise on a wooden boat to visit one of the most famous pearl farms in Ras Al Khaimah, which is the Al Suwaidi pearl farm, was one of the experiences that I was keen to do Along the way, I enjoyed stunning seascapes with views of the Hajar Mountains.

The Al Suwaidi Pearl Farm is the first Arabian pearl farm in the world, established in 2005, and the farm opens its doors to anyone who wants to know and learn more about this cultivation and the different types of pearls produced by the farm, with the aim of conveying the unique cultural heritage of the pearl industry, and if visitors like something they can buy it as a souvenir Distinguished from this unique place.

Wetland Nature Reserve

For those looking for tourist places in Ras Al Khaimah for children and adults alike, the Wetland Nature Reserve in Ras Al Khaimah is a wonderful destination that must be visited. This reserve contains huge numbers of beautiful birds, estimated at more than 400 species of the most beautiful birds in the world. Migratory birds are common in it, especially in the winter, so it becomes the best place for an entertaining vacation and for taking the most beautiful memorial photos with family and friends.

Noura Khan, a travel influencer and content creator, is a Kuwaiti national, holds a degree in law from Kuwait University and has worked as a journalist prior to taking up a position in the government. In 2018 she started blogging on travel and visited more than 57 countries since. She has more than 54k followers on her blog post @nourajtraveller is well appreciated for content and travel information. Noura writes exclusively for The Times Kuwait on her travel visits.

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