The United Arab Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has been a center of rich cultural history in the Middle East for nearly seven millennia. Located right at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf, it has been a valuable hub for trade and commerce with easy access to many popular trade routes over the centuries. The values, heritage and culture of this country have been shaped by this fascinating history. His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi is proud of this heritage, and he is working to develop a tourism industry to showcase the importance of this region over the course of human history. The ancient history of this area can be studied amongst the many archaeological sites that dot the country.
The oldest known history of Ras Al Khaimah dates back as far as 5,500 BC. This was known as the Ubaid Period. There are ruins containing remains of stone tools, beads and pottery. The expansive ruins are located near Al Jazeerah Al Hamra, and they contain evidence of trade between the neighboring peoples.
This ancient history of Ras Al Khaimah paved the way for the Haffet Period that included people who lived in the high mountains in contrast to the people of the previous period that lived near the ocean and in the lowlands. Eventually, around 2000 BC, the Umm al-Nar Civilization arose to establish the first true civilization in the area. This period was alive with trade between Mesopotamia and lands of south east of Iran.
The last Period of the prehistoric era is the Wadi Suq Culture Period. This era has given archaeologists a treasure trove of artifacts contained in the biggest cemetery of the time. The large graves were built above ground with limestone walls and were able to house 30 to 60 bodies. The people of that time buried personal items along with the bodies. This has allowed archaeologists to study the artistry of the pots, pans, beads and metal tools of these people.
During the late Bronze Age, the people of the region were building structures that were very common to Ras Al Khaimah and surrounding areas up until fifty years ago. This “arish” style of building has been excavated and studied in the Shamal area. This research has shown that the people of the time were probably doing some farming. Later, the Iron Age shows more intricate designs in the paintings and engravings on their pottery and other implements.
The last Periods before the introduction of Islam to the region are the Hellenic and Parthian Era between 300 BC – 300 AD. The southern and northern areas of Ras Al Khaimah are littered with grave sites from this time, and they are being investigated by the Antiquities and Museums Department.
This culturally significant ancient history of Ras Al Khaimah is being preserved through the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi. It is an important part of his people’s heritage, and a critical part of Sheikh Saud’s plan to boost tourism for his country.