Ras Al Khaimah welcomes record number of tourists in first half of 2023

About 600,000 people flocked to the emirate known for its natural beauty, more than in any other half-year in its history

Overseas visitors make up more than half of the tourists in Ras Al Khaimah. Photo: Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority
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Ras Al Khaimah has welcomed more visitors in the first six months of 2023 than in any other half-year in its history.

A record 600,000 tourists travelled to the northern emirate between January and June, according to the latest numbers from Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

Travellers are also spending more when they are in the emirate, as tourism-related revenue for the same period is up nearly 65 per cent.

International tourists have also rediscovered the emirate after the global pandemic, with overseas visitors making up more than half of all arrivals.

Raki Phillips, chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said 2023 was “shaping up to be the emirate’s best year to date, with our first half results proving the efficacy of moving fast, staying relevant and just getting things done”.

Adventure, sustainability and pet-friendly fun

Famed for its Hajar Mountains, sandy coastlines and lush mangroves, Ras Al Khaimah has also made a name for itself as the adventure emirate.

It’s home to the world’s longest zipline and the UAE’s highest peak, Jebel Jais, which offers cliffside adventures across its 1,934-metre summit. It's also home to the first internationally certified multi-day hiking experience in the GCC.

The emirate is one of the most pet-friendly in the UAE. About 25 hotels, restaurants, outdoor parks and beaches are part of the Ras Al-K9 programme, meaning wadi walks, mountain hikes, beachside excursions, desert adventures and overnight stays are open to travellers and their four-legged friends.

Sustainability is another big focus for Ras Al Khaimah, and its tourism board is the first in the Middle East to be EarthCheck certified – meaning its approved by the world's leading scientific benchmarking certification and advisory group for sustainable travel and tourism.

More visitors are expected to venture to Ras Al Khaimah from Qatar and beyond later this year, as the emirate's international airport will welcome daily flights via Qatar Airways. And cruising, an industry still in its infancy in the northern emirate, looks set to grow with 14 luxury cruise calls confirmed for the coming season.

Ras Al Khaimah isn’t slowing down when it comes to tourism development. The emirate has plans to double its number of hotel rooms and has already announced a slew of openings.

Nobu, Anantara and Wynn Al Marjan Island set to open in RAK

Launches include Wynn Al Marjan Island, a multibillion-dollar resort from the Las Vegas operator that’s expected to open in 2027, bringing the first gaming area to the region.

Several other hotels will open on the emirate's Marjan Island, including a new Le Meridien property and eco-friendly Earth Shore in 2025, and Nobu Al Marjan Island from the luxury hotel brand headed by actor Robert De Niro, film producer Meir Teper and chef Nobu Matsuhisa in 2026.

Later this year, Anantara Mina Al Arab will open with Maldivian-style overwater villas and Sofitel will make its debut in the emirate via the Sofitel Al Hamra resort.

In the midst of all Ras Al Khaimah's development, one of its stalwart properties has closed its doors, albeit temporarily. Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is no longer accepting reservations as it undergoes refurbishment.

“As part of our commitment to providing an exceptional hospitality experience for guests, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is undergoing a refurbishment program this summer. This program includes refurbishment of the rooms, F&B outlets and public areas, and we look forward to welcoming guests back to the property later this year," a spokesperson for the hotel told The National.

The 346-room beachfront hotel will remain closed until September 30.

Updated: August 10, 2023, 6:18 AM