Beaches, affordable hotels and adventure offerings all make Ras Al Khaimah an attractive destination, says Andrew Doherty
The world’s longest zip line may have brought Ras Al Khaimah to the fore when it opened last year, but the emirate has plenty more tricks up its sleeve.
An abundance of beaches, affordable hotels and adventure offerings are drawing Brits to the northernmost state of the United Arab Emirates, said Haitham Mattar, chief executive at the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.
“The UK has remained loyal in terms of visitor arrivals. Despite Brexit, we are seeing growth,” he said.
From January to April this year, 20,000 Brits visited Ras Al Khaimah, a 10% rise on the same period in 2018. Reacting to greater demand, Ras Al Khaimah has been on a mission to add 6,700 hotel rooms to the 6,200 currently available, with a deadline of 2022. Properties in the pipeline include a Radisson Resort on Marjan Island, a Hampton by Hilton Hotel and an InterContinental.
To attract families, which Mattar says make up 50% of all arrivals, seven child-friendly zip lines, and an adventure park with climbing towers and bungee jumping are set for a July 2019 opening.
Targeting the millennial market is on the cards for the tourism authority too – the market has steadily grown since the introduction of the famous 1.7-mile-long zip line on Jebel Jais.
“We want to attract 24- to 38-year-olds,” said Mattar. “The Jebel Jais zip line really put us on the map, so we’re opening hiking and mountain biking trails in the Al Wadi desert by the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, the “Luxury Mountain Camp” development – a 37-room tented enclave more than 600 metres above sea level on Jebel Jais – is making ground and is set to welcome guests in 2020, said Mattar. The resort, which features high-end accommodation, a health club and a kids’ play area, has been designed to help clients connect with nature.
“Our nature offering sets us apart from competitor destinations,” said Mattar. “In Ras Al Khaimah, visitors can dive, hike and explore the desert on horseback, all on the same day.
Trekking on Jebel Jais is particularly special. Clients will pass through villages where Bedouins still live traditionally, with no cars or electricity. They are truly off the grid.”
Flights: British Airways and Emirates fly direct from the UK to Dubai. Clients can arrange a free luxury shuttle bus from the international airport to Ras Al Khaimah, which is a 45-minute drive away.
Visa: British travellers will be issued with a 30-day visa on arrival in the UAE.
Currency: UAE dirham.