About Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah has a rich history dating back some 7,000 years. In the 13th and 14th centuries, a prosperous port arose in the area we now know as Ras Al Khaimah. Then named Julfar, it became one of the most prominent trading posts in the Arabian Gulf and was widely known for its exquisite pearls. The discovery of rare Chinese pottery in 2019 in this area points to the extent of trade that occurred in the erstwhile Julfar.
Ras Al Khaimah has about 1,000 archaeological sites, many of which have been added to the ‘UNESCO Tentative List for World Heritage’. The emirate is also home to one of the best-preserved traditional fishing villages in the Arabian Gulf, Al Jazirah Al Hamra, and the only hilltop fort still in existence in the UAE, the 18th century Dhayah Fort.
The emirate is noted for its varied topography, from the Hajar mountains, to rolling sand dunes to 64 kms of beaches, as well as its adventure tourism attractions. It has a stable and diverse economy, with independent executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
It is the fourth-largest emirate and covers an area of 1,684sq. km, which is equal to 3.16 per cent of the total area of the UAE.
As of 2015, it is estimated to have a total population of 345,000, with 127,000 UAE nationals.
Location and geography
Ras Al Khaimah is located near the northernmost point of the United Arab Emirates and shares its boundaries with the emirates of Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Sharjah. It shares its international border with the Sultanate of Oman.
The city of Ras Al Khaimah is the capital of the emirate. A creek divides it into two areas: the western old town of Ras Al Khaimah and the eastern part - Al Nakheel. Other key towns are: Al Jazirah Al Hamra, Digdaga, Khatt and Masafi. Masafi shares its boundaries with the emirate of Fujairah and is known for its mineral water. Al Marjan Island, to the south of the emirate, is a group of four coral-shaped, man-made islands offering hospitality, residential and lifestyle attractions.
Ras Al Khaimah has a strategic geographical location, stretching along the shore of the Arabian Gulf, adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz.
Ras Al Khaimah has been pursuing a strong policy of economic diversification and has experienced exponential growth in recent years. The establishment of free zones and industrial areas has attracted a variety of foreign investment - from SMEs to multinationals - while the emirate’s tourism sector continues to be one of the fastest-growing in the region.
Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) offers customisable solutions to free zone and non-free zone businesses in over 50 industries. The emirate has become a manufacturing hub, with output ranging from construction materials and petrochemicals to ceramics and pharmaceuticals.
RAK Ceramics is one of the largest ceramic manufacturers in the world. Its 12,000 employees across 20 plants produce about 123 million square meters of tiles and 5 million pieces of sanitaryware each year. Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, also known as Julphar, is based in Ras Al Khaimah and is the largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the MENA region.
Read more on economic opportunities in Ras Al Khaimah on the websites of Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Department of Economic Development.
Ras Al Khaimah is an up-and-coming tourism hub. It has scenic locations with diverse landscapes ranging from rolling sand dunes, coastal strips, salt flats, mangroves and mountains. There are sulfur springs near the mountain areas and the emirate is home to a diverse range of wildlife that includes foxes, jerboas and hundreds of bird species.
The highest peak in the UAE, Jebel Jais, is in Ras Al Kahimah. Standing 1,934 meters high, it is the site of the world’s longest zipline certified by Guinness World Records.
The site also offers several other adventure attractions and has the highest restaurant in the UAE. Ras Al Khaimah was named Gulf Tourism Capital for both 2020 and 2021 by the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Visit the Department of Antiquities and Museums for a glimpse of the history of the emirate and Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority for more information on its tourist attractions.
The ruling family
The ruling family are descendants of the Al Qawasim tribe, which was a significant maritime power in the Arabian Gulf in the past. H. H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi rules Ras Al Khaimah. He assumed this position on 27 October 2010 after the demise of his father.
Note: Information provided by Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office.
Updated on 06 Jun 2023