Al Rams: A community facing an uncertain future, by Antonie Robertson

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Al Rams is a small northern town in Ras Al Khaimah, lying on a thin strip of land between the Hajjar mountains and the ocean. It has a vibrant history based on the pearl divers of yesteryear and a tradition of fishing that continues today.

The Ras Al Khaimah Government, along with federal government housing programmes, has in recent years provided the Emirati inhabitants with nearby plots on which to build modern houses. This has led to many of the old traditional houses being abandoned or turned into labour accommodation.

The old houses, built mainly from coral, rock, gypsum and wood beams, lack basic modern amenities such as sanitary services and water supplies. Surrounded by the small, dusty alleyways that wind through the neighbourhood, they have become dumping grounds for household trash and discarded furniture.

With this mish-mash of dilapidated houses, functioning shops and housing, the question of whether to modernise or restore the district is now being investigated by the emirate’s Government.

It will decide whether to restore the neighbourhood to offer a historic view, or demolish what is left to build modern accommodation and allow the people and culture of Al Rams to flourish.

* Antonie Robertson