The Emirate located right at the entrance of the Arabian Gulf, Ras Al Khaimah, has been a focal point throughout history. Its strategic location made it a popular spot to control. This is evident when you look at the eighteen castles, fortifications and towers that were built in this region over the centuries. His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi believes this rich history is important to the tourism industry of his country. Not only will this tourism bring more success to the region, it will help to rediscover and preserve this history for his people.
There are over seven thousand years of history in this region. There are archaeological sites throughout the country that are a testament to this rich culture. Some of the more interesting history has taken place within the last few centuries. During the eighteenth century, the Al Qasimi clan had established itself in Ras Al Khaimah as the preeminent power in the region. The Al Qawasem, the plural reference, not only controlled the United Arab Emirates region, but they also controlled islands in the Persian Gulf and lands on the opposite shores of the Gulf. This allowed them to control all trade coming out of the Persian Gulf. It is reported that the Qawasim was associated with the Persian Gulf Pirates of the century. There are many stories of bravery and conquest related to this group.
In the early 1800s, the British attacked the Qawasem hold on the Persian Gulf with their Navy, because they were seen as a threat to their ships and trade routes in the Indian Ocean. The British occupied Ras Al Khaimah for a couple of years until a treaty was signed that dealt with their past differences. With the transitions of various governments of the region, Ras Al Khaimah was sometimes independent and sometimes incorporated with other countries. In 1972, Ras Al Khaimah joined the United Arab Emirates. The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah has many great displays that chronicle the 19th and 20th centuries very well. It is a big draw for tourists to see traditional buildings and artifacts unique to this part of the world.
Aside from Ras Al Khaimah’s political history, one of the more interesting parts of this region’s history revolves around pearling. Archaeological evidence shows that pearl diving goes back 7,000 years to the beginning of this area’s past. The wealth that the pearl industry brought to the region over the centuries establish strong traditions that exist to this day. Pearling was never just another industry here; it became fully ingrained into the cultural fabric of Ras Al Khaimah. Pearling was done only via the traditional way of diving, and it was limited to those who had permission of the rulers. Sadly, the industry died with the introduction of cultured pearls and heavy taxation from India killed the industry off.
This rich heritage is being guarded by His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi for the benefit of his people. He also wants to share this history with others around the world through tourism to Ras Al Khaimah.