Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 3 December 2020

Can you help? Appeal for old photographs of Ras Al Khaimah

Dust off the shoe box in the attic, as your family photographs can help restore the pearling town of Jazirah Al Hamra

Restorers are seeking old photographs from the abandoned pearling town of Al Jazirah Al Hamra.

The maritime town on the edge of the Ras Al Khaimah desert was once renowned for its pearling and merchant fleets.

It stood abandoned for half a century after residents moved to modern neighbourhoods in Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi.

Now, restorers are asking former residents to lend photographs that will help them return buildings to the original style.

Photographs with images of the town’s souq, mosques and private homes are invaluable resources, said restorers.

“We have a very small collection and this is so helpful, to know how it looks,” says Agnieska Dolatowska, an archaeologist with the Jazirah Al Hamra Conservation Project. “This is why every photo is so precious.”

The village was recently listed as potential Unesco World Heritage Site. It is unique in the Arabian Gulf as an original pearling town almost untouched by the construction boom that followed the foundation of the UAE in 1971.

The village was never wholly abandoned. Low income labourers, taxi drivers and fishermen live on its periphery and the town’s eerie atmosphere made it a popular location for regional film crews, who frequently altered buildings.

A group of former residents began clearing debris from the ghost town in 2011. A series of tribal parties that followed, hosted by the Zaab tribe, brought the village back to national prominence.

The Jazirah Al Hamra Conservation Project was launched in 2015 by the Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah governments.

People with old photographs can contact the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Antiquities and Museums from by calling +971 723 39900 between 8am to 6pm, or emailing rakheritage@musuem.rak.ae

Updated: October 9, 2020 05:44 PM

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