Castles and Forts in Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah is known for its numerous forts and castles with different shapes that emphasize its nobility and cultural continuity and the exposure of Ras Al Khaimah to many invasions throughout its long history. The emirate has 18 squares distributed in different regions (Al Hesn Square in Ras Al Khaimah city, Al Hudaiba Square, Qusaidat Square, Ali bin Saeed Al Shamsi Square in Qusaidat, Saeed Abdullah bin Bilal Square in Al Hudaiba, Al Beqaishi Square in Shimal, Skhaiber and Al Hadabah Squares in Al Munaee, Saeed bin Ali Al Shamsi Square in Hwailat, Rafaq Square in Rafaq, Masafi Square, Azen Square, Al Fahleen Square, Bin Delm Square in Al Hail, Al Falayah Square, Sha’am Square and Eastern Rams Square. While there are 60 towers as was mentioned before including khuzam Tower, Al Helw Tower in RAK city, Boshaq Tower, Al Mooairedh Tower, Al Mataaf Tower in RAK city, Al Najdi Tower in Ghab, Shimal Tower and Dhaya Tower, Western Rams Tower, Khatt Tower, Al Madeena Tower in Khatt, Al Naqbi Tower in Khatt, Ibn Anbar Tower in Khatt, Nasla Tower in Hwailat, Mraibekh Tower in Al Munaee and the Qusaidat Tower among others.
As for the forts in Ras Al Khaimah, there are six forts spread over different areas of the emirate: Ras Al Khaimah Fort, Al Uraibi Fort, Al Mazra'a Fort in Al Hamra Island, Azen Fort, Nasla Fort in Hwailat, and Dhaya Fort which was built on a mountain hill overlooking the town of Rams and the creek known as Khor Rams. There are other forts and castles that vanished, the most famous of which was the historical Al Seer Fort which was located on Oman road. These forts and castles are considered some of the most important elements of tourist attraction and historical tourism in the emirate, and since the Dhayah Fort and Shimal and Kush relics are some of the most important monuments of Ras Al Khaimah, telling the story of the beginning of the Islamic era in the region, in addition to Al Falayah and Al Hamra Island, we will mention them with more details.
It is a Historical military fort that is very important in the history of Ras Al Khaimah, located north of the city of Rams, and constructed in the sixteenth century atop a rocky outcrop facing the Gulf. Moreover, the fort witnessed a fierce battle in December 1819 which took place between residents of Ras Al Khaimah and British forces, and resulted in the destruction of the historical fort as it was bombarded first and then its towers were blasted after conquering it. In the year 2001 the fort was partially restored to welcome its visitors.
Shimal and Kush relics tell the story of Islam's arrival in the region
Under the supervision of RAK Department of Antiquities and Museums, the works of the fifth and the last season of the recent British archaeological excavations in the Islamic historical site of Kush in Shimal area of Ras Al Khaimah was completed. These excavations, which had begun in 1995 highlighted the beginning of the Islamic era in Ras Al Khaimah, and the Kush site is considered the only archaeological site in UAE that contains historical relics from the beginnings of the Islamic era in this region.
The discoveries showed that this village was founded in the sixth century AD, about 1,500 years ago, and is likely to have been built by colonists from the Sasanian Empire, which was one of the greatest powers in the world at that time, and competed with the Romanian Empire. That era was distinguished by its tall buildings which continued over 200 years as the exciting developments this region witnessed in that era date back to the beginning of the arrival of Islam to it in the seventh century. These developments began with a message that transformed the history of the area - the message the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sent through his companion Amr ibn al-Aas to the local Arab Sheikhs who converted to Islam and swore to expel the sasanian colonizers who had built a big fort in the center of the fort’s site and were sheltering inside it. The walls of this fort were built of mud brick and are still considered the biggest walls seen in the UAE with a width of two meters and a half and are still holding up to this day. With a height of about two meters, despite being built 1,500 years ago, this fort is believed to have been built by the Muslim armies. The Muslims were able to expel colonizers from the region and then the fort was abandoned and never been used for 100 years. But it was re-used again during the Abbasi era as trade flourished in this region.
The excavations in Al Kush area revealed details that were not available about the Arabian Peninsula and are expected to be of great importance to historians and scholars. One of the interesting facts that have been discovered about the Sasanian colonists at these sites is that they used to eat pork, which Islam forbade eating afterwards.
Al Falayah Fort was built in the 18th century, serving as a summer residence for the ruling Quwasim Family. Surrounded by palm gardens, it provided a pleasant retreat from the town of Ras Al Khaimah during the hot summer months. Its historical importance dates back to the war between the Quwasim and the British/Omani forces in 1819. In the summer of 1820, a peace treaty between the sheikhs of the Gulf coast and the British Government was signed in Falayah.
Al Hamra Island
It Is the oldest area known in Ras Al Khaimah where the relics of huge structures and a variety of exterior surfaces were discovered, which give hints of initial human activities in this region, in addition to pottery, beads, nets and flint tools that were found too which indicate the existence of the former inhabitants of the desert who used to live on the coast during the summer months.
Everywhere across the fertile plain of Ras Al Khaimah, the visitor will find traces of the past where fighting was common to battle invaders as told by the watchtowers scattered throughout the emirate, most of which were renovated, the rest are still intact and remain a witness on the strong defense that protected the land, the palm tree groves and the villages of Ras Al Khaimah. We also find these watchtowers on the hills and sand dunes, and sometimes in the middle of palm oasis and villages of Ras Al Khaimah which were built by the hands of soldiers to protect themselves.
(1) From the book (Ras Al Khaimah: Capital of the Future), by Najib Abdullah Al Shamsi, the institute of research and follow-up, 2000
The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah (formerly Al Hisn Fort)
Ras Al Khaimah Museum is a landmark in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah as the visitor of this emirate’s beautiful nature soon stands in amazement in front of this magnificent establishment, which stands tall in the heart of the emirate as a witness of a great history, telling tales of pride and honor.
The museum, which was a fortress in the old times was built in the middle of the 18th century, during the Persian occupation between 1730- 1749. Most of the modern buildings inside it were built in the last 100 years.
It was used previously as a residence for the ruling family up to 1964, afterwards it was used as a location for the General Directorate of RAK Polic, and later as a central jail up to 1984.
At the beginning of the seventies, HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi – may Allah have mercy on him -, the ruler of the emirate at the time ordered the establishment of a national museum, and the activity began by commissioning Ms. De Cardi to organize an excavation team and survey archaeological areas.
In 1987, His Highness Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi – may Allah have mercy on him - decided to use Al Hisin fort as Ras Al-Khaimah National Museum after its restoration using the original local raw materials. The engineering designs were done under the supervision of Mr. Jay Laxman who prepared some of the rooms to exhibit the available historical antiques.
The fort consists of two floors and has a rectangular shape with wind-catchers (Barjeel) on the north side and in the middle is a courtyard with a garden (for the Barjeel) with slots in all directions to create airflow and bring breezes into the rooms built underneath it.
At the main entrance of the museum is the reception room (“Majlis”) and close to it is the museum's canteen, and the courtyard of the fort is paved with pebbles brought from Hjail Valley to cover the sandy ground to protect the exhibits from dust which also added to the beauty of the courtyard, and an added bonus was discovered when many of the slabs were found to contain fossils.