Balanced tourism — a lasting vision

A nature-driven destination with a reputation as an adventure hub, Ras Al Khaimah is not only an explorer’s dream, the Arabian experience is also leading the drive to sustainable tourism.

At the core of the project to drive growth in the sector and become the regional leader in sustainable tourism, UAE-based Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA)’s Balanced Tourism launch places the sustainable aspects of environment, culture, conservation and liveability at the forefront of their long-term, responsible tourism strategy. 

“The need for good stewardship of our cultural heritage, environment, people and infrastructure has never been stronger, especially in post-pandemic times,” says Raki Phillips, Chief Executive Officer at Raktda. “Balanced Tourism does exactly that as we become ever mindful of the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism. Simply put, it’s time to move beyond just using less plastic to adopting an all-inclusive approach, from ensuring new projects such as hotels are developed at an organic pace, to building new attractions with sustainability at their core.” 

Ras Al Khaimah is undoubtedly one of the most perfect locations to see this to fruition. Known as the ‘nature Emirate’, it has all the natural assets to deliver on destination travel — 64km of beautiful beaches, mountains, desert landscapes, wadis and mangroves rich in wildlife. Here are some of the key highlights to whet your travel appetite… 

"The need for good stewardship of our cultural heritage, environment, people and infrastructure has never been stronger, especially in post-pandemic times."

Picnic in Jebel Jais

Al Rams - Suwaidi Pearl farm

Suwaidi Pearl Farm

RAK Mountain Climbing

Dune bashing

Mountain Biking

Al Wadi desert

Jebel Jais

Mountain highs 

Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE, is where adrenaline seekers can enjoy exhilarating adventures, from hiking and mountain biking to the world’s longest zipline (Jais Flight), Jais Sky Tour, a series of six ziplines stretching 5km, and Jais Sledder, the region’s longest toboggan ride which takes around eight minutes to cover 1,840 metres of hairpin curves and undulating whirls. The recently opened Wingsuit Diving Platform is for professional base jumpers and is home to Khalifa Al Ghafri, also known as the ‘UAE Batman’. Later this year, thrill-seekers will be able to enjoy a paragliding experience from the top of the mountain with Jais Wings. 

In terms of accommodation, the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp comes complete with survival courses to test your wits. Alternatively, check into the UAE’s highest campsite, Camp 1770, the perfect base from which to explore the mountain trails and experience local Emirati hospitality. You can also enjoy a meal and spectacular views at the highest restaurant in the UAE — 1484 by Puro  

Land and sand  

The super-luxe Ritz Carlton resort is located in the Al Wadi desert, and if you can tear yourself away from your swanky private villa, activities include desert treks on camels and horseback, private archery lessons and a falcon show. Sonara Camp offers a luxurious dining and entertainment experience set in the unique terracotta desert, complete with herds of oryx and gazelle in the background. Take to the sky on board RAK Airventure, a tethered hot air ballooning experience that offers a bird’s eye view of the Hajar Mountains, desert, lush mangroves and cityscapes.  

Desert treks on camel in the Al Wadi desert

Ocean wonders 

If hotel-hopping is your preference, there is a large choice of world-class hotels overlooking the ocean and located in the city, including the Waldorf Astoria, Hilton, Rixos, Rotana, Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra Beach, Hampton by Hilton, Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah on Marjan Island and the InterContinental Mina Al Arab 

Banan Beach, also on Al Marjan Island

Banan Beach, also on Al Marjan Island, offers chilled beach glamping, featuring tepees located around a central firepit and private chalets. Still to open this year is Scallop Ranch at Al Hamra Marine, where you can experience oyster and scallop diving, live cooking, family and kids’ experiences, and cultural activations. Its key focus is to support and enhance understanding of the marine ecosystem. 

Culturally rich 

When there’s history dating to the Bronze Age, you can understand the attraction for visitors looking for historical tours. Sites include ruins and forts, of which four locations — Julfar, Shimal, Al Jazirah Al Hamra and Dhaya were recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), on its tentative list of Global Heritage Sites. You can also enjoy a trip to the Suwaidi Pearl Farm to learn about the Emirate’s pearling industry through experiences such as pearl diving and oyster opening, or take a trip back in time at the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah 

Sustainable development 

As the licensing authority for hotel developments, Raktda has set guidelines to ensure sustainable development. Some of the projects underway include Wynn Resort, scheduled to open in 2026, which will be developed as per the Barjeel Green Building Regulations; Earth Hotels Altitude, an eco-based pop-up hotel concept set to open on Jebel Jais in the last quarter of this year; and Saij Mountain Lodge, also on Jebel Jais, a protected and sustainably managed mountain resort due to open in 2023.  

For more details on Ras Al Khaimah and Balanced Tourism initiatives, visit www.visitrasalkhaimah.com or www.visitjebeljais.com 

 

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