A historic pearling village in Ras Al Khaimah is being brought back to life.
Al Jazirah Al Hamra will be the site of a three-month heritage festival, dubbed Turath District, which will include live performances, folk dances and food trucks, as well as presentations of traditional art and design.
Al Jazirah Al Hamra is considered to be one of the last truly authentic villages in the UAE. Once a small island, its inhabitants subsisted on maritime and pearl trading before they abandoned their homes in the middle of the 20th century.
They left behind an undisturbed picture of pre-oil life in the UAE. The area includes traditional homes, a fortress intended for defence, a small market and several mosques. The homes found here range from basic dwellings to the more elaborate courtyard properties owned by wealthy pearl merchants.
It is also one of the best places in the country to discover the traditional coral-stone architecture favoured along the country’s coast.
Running from 6pm to 11pm every Thursday and Friday until Friday, May 28, Turath District aims to immerse visitors in traditional Emirati culture.
Heritage displays and traditional decor will transport visitors back in time, while the fort’s courtyard will be transformed into an open-air theatre.
Traditional performances will include the Ayala, a folk dance where participants take turns to recite poetry while holding swords; the Al-Yola, a Bedouin tradition comprising two rows of dancers carrying rifles and sticks; and the Harbiya, where performers recite melodies over a war dance celebrating their victories.
“We believe that Al Jazirah Al Hamra is a national treasure; a stunning picture of what life used to be like here in the emirate that everyone should be able to visit and experience,” says Raki Phillips, chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.
“It is within this spirit that we wanted to create an experience that would give visitors and the local community the chance to connect with its rich history, better understand its people and traditions, and to take them back in time for a truly authentic experience.”
Al Jazirah Al Hamra is one of four archaeological sites in Ras Al Khaimah that have secured a spot on Unesco’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites, which are considered to hold outstanding universal value from a cultural or natural heritage standpoint.
The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival offers another opportunity to explore Al Jazirah Al Hamra. The two-month event, which is ongoing until Saturday, April 3, showcases the work of local artists, photographers and filmmakers.