There is a magical time to visit a destination, just before everyone else discovers it but after some development of hotels and attractions. Ras Al Khaimah is very much in that golden era now, with several new luxury hotels opening over the last year. So if you are considering visiting, 2023 is the year to do it! When you think of the United Arab Emirates, most people think of Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Still, a third emirate is becoming increasingly popular with travelers despite being a very different destination from the other two.
While Dubai is known for its skyscrapers, shopping, and attractions, Ras Al Khaimah has the opposite vibe. Known as the nature Emirate, it features a wide choice of luxury hotels, beautiful beaches, and stunning scenery. Ras Al Khaimah is also a fantastic location for a twin-center vacation with Dubai. After partying in Dubai, you can unwind and take in the scenery in Ras Al Khaimah while paying less for a hotel than in Dubai. It is also a little cooler than Dubai, extending the season with the most comfortable temperatures.
A totally unknown destination to many travellers, this small stretch of land has big ambitions. By 2030, Ras Al Khaimah hopes to welcome three million annual visitors, according to H.E. Raki Phillips, CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), on the occasion of the Arab Aviation Summit. The emirate has been spotted by CNN Travel as one of the most attractive destinations to visit in 2023. And Time magazine named the emirate as one of the “World’s Greatest Places 2022.” In fact, German, Russian, British, Czech and Kazakh visitors represent the real trailblazers, according to the industry news website Air Journal, which highlights these few nationalities as the only significant tourist profiles currently visiting Ras Al Khaimah.
However, the emirate has been working to raise its profile on the tourism scene for the past 12 years. In May 2011, the government launched the creation of a dedicated tourism development office. The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is tasked by the government to license, regulate and monitor the emirate’s tourism and hospitality industry, explains RAKTDA. Over the past decade, Ras Al Khaimah has already built up a hotel portfolio of more than 8,000 rooms, including major brands such as Radisson, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Mövenpick. Names such as Marriott and Sofitel are also expected. In 2026, Wynn Resorts will enable Ras Al Khaimah to boast the first ever casino in the UAE.
Ras Al Khaimah’s main tourist hotels are less than an hour from Dubai Airport and costs around $60 in a taxi. However, consider hiring a car to get there as it is a short drive from Dubai, and it would make sightseeing easier to do independently. In addition, there is far less traffic in the Emirate than in Dubai, making it a pleasure to drive around. Qatar Airways will also resume flying to Ras Al Khaimah airport from November 2023, adding connections from many cities via Doha to the Emirate.
Activities in Ras Al Khaimah focus on scenery, nature, history, and thrill-seeking. The must-see attraction has to be Jebel Jais mountain, even just for the scenic drive to the top, which takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes from the beach hotels. If you are not much of an adrenaline junkie, there is a beautiful restaurant at the top, 1484 by Puro restaurant Jebel Jais. Here, you can enjoy sophisticated food while taking in the stunning mountain panorama.
For something more active in the mountains, hiking, cycling and riding bike are popular, along with the world’s longest zip line, superman style, a series of six ziplines, and the sledder. These are a must to do !
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