Unfolding the Mystery of The Haunted Ras Al Khaimah Palace
One of the most frightening yet mesmerising structures is the Al Qassimi Palace in RAK which reportedly cost AED 500 million to build, over 25 years ago. Locals say the structure has remained uninhabited save just one night.
Located at (25.740239,55.945748) Sheikh Rashed Bin Said Road, a huge building standing tall over a small hill, can be easily located given its spooky landscape and ghostly charm similar to scenes straight out of a horror movie
Legend has it:
‘You don’t seek the way to the palace, it will find you in time’
One of the most frightening yet mesmerising structures is the Al Qassimi Palace in RAK which reportedly cost AED 500 million to build, over 25 years ago. Locals say the structure has remained uninhabited save just one night. And that the people were driven out in just one night after they experienced strange paranormal happenings.
Word of Mouth also has it that people have reported irrational fear, sounds of wailing persons, bizarre sightings and also spotted children peeping out of the partly broken stained glass windows while crying out for help to trespassers!
Visiting the Secret
Living up to its mystic glory, the entrance to the former royal palace is not open to public through the main door (obviously, it’s not a tourist spot). The facade is charming and huge, that narrates a tale of lost wonders.
In all possibilities be prepared to be turned away by the watchman (who in fact is the only soul in the premises) as this abandoned dwelling is badly in need of a repair and has been untouched for almost 3 decades. However if you do manage to get through after convincing the (living) soul, the entry from the car park/storage area route assures further thrills in this adventure.
You will be greeted with amazing art works, beautiful interiors, costly furnishings and several household items for starters leading to a wall with an imitation of blood smeared graffiti and further up an ideal terrace lounge.
At the first sight the haunted beauty charms you with its typical Arabesque settings with lots of Falcon statues (headless!!), well designed interiors, large chandeliers, paintings, silver pots and several unused furniture. The walls and floors are decorated with ceramic tiles painted by Moroccan artists who allegedly cast charms of black magic.
Exotic lightings (still working) beautiful sceneries and many decorative figurines will amaze you (there is a chance fair to lose your companions while watching all this) as you walk into the different floors of the structure.
There are 4 floors including one underground parking – where you could see brand new vehicles however the lack of electricity above the ground floors may or may not add to your experience of this adventure.
The owners abandoned the palace after staying here for one night leaving behind a royal palace collecting dust and with it many secrets which are yet to be explored.
But visiting the haunted ruins of an uninhabited private palace on a full moon night will definitely give you the chills (read thrills)
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All about the ‘haunted’ Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah
- About the Palace
- Tickets and Timings
Are you a big fan of horror flicks? A visit to Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah can give you the same white-knuckle experience! The stunning work of architecture was built in 1985 by the late His Highness Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi, a member of the Sharjah ruling family Al Qasimi. However, that’s not the real reason for its widespread popularity. After being unoccupied for many years, there have been rumours that the palace is ‘haunted’! And captivated by the scary stories, tourists and residents flock to this mysterious palace .
If you’re up for an adventure, here’s everything you need to know before visiting Ras Al Khaimah’s ‘Haunted’ Palace, including entrance fee, timings and location.
The Engima Around Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah
Reportedly worth around AED 500M, the palace is a four-storey structure that reflects the same magnificence and beauty that is typical of Arab culture.
After the palace fell into disrepair, rumours spread that the inhabitants left the place due to certain “mysterious” occurrences. Later, the grandeur of Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah and the mystery surrounding the house turned it into a must-visit attraction of the emirate frequented by adventure seekers.
In December 2019, it was announced that the house would be open to the public for a limited time before closing for renovation. The palace is among the spookiest and abandoned places in the UAE .
Step inside Al Qasimi Palace, and you’ll be in awe of the spectacular artefacts and paintings that adorn the 35 rooms of the house. The four-storey structure is designed with glass chandeliers and marble floors, mixing Islamic, Moroccan and Persian influences.
Al Qasimi Palace RAK Tickets and Timings
Take a look at the ticket prices below. Note that the tickets can be purchased at the gate of the palace.
- Individual tickets: AED 75 (per person)
- Group tickets: AED 50 (per person)
The ‘Haunted’ Palace of Ras Al Khaimah is open Sunday to Thursday from 09:00 am – 07:00 pm.
The palace is located along Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Road, Al Dhait North, just one hour and seven minutes away from the tallest mountain Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah.
No matter where you live in the UAE, you can easily reach the palace, Ras Al Khaimah. Look at the directions below from different emirates.
If you plan to visit the palace, take the Al Manama – Ras Al Khaimah Road (E18). The road will connect with Sheikh Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Road, where the palace is located.
Dubai residents can also pay a visit to this spooky site in Ras Al Khaimah. If you are coming from Dubai, get on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E311) and continue to Al Riffa. Now take Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Rd and follow to your destination.
From Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi residents can get on Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan St (E10) and follow the road to Al Riffa. Once you reach Al Riffa, take Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Road to your destination.
FAQS ABOUT AL QASIMI PALACE
Is photography allowed in al qasimi palace.
Before visiting Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah, please note that photography is not allowed. Please also ensure that you don’t touch any paintings, artefacts or props while in the palace.
IS THERE ANY OTHER ATTRACTION NEAR THE PALACE?
After visiting the palace, you can also travel to Al Jazirah Al Hamra . This deserted pearling village offers a glimpse into the history of Ras Al Khaimah.
WHAT ARE THE CONTACT DETAILS FOR AL QASIMI PALACE?
You can contact the palace at +971-52-828-2222 .
And that’s a wrap to our post about Al Qasimi Palace. There are so many other things to do in Ras Al Khaimah , making this the perfect destination for a weekend getaway for visitors of all ages. These include mountains, beaches, museums, forts and much more. There are many kids activities in Ras Al Khaimah also, to ensure some fantastic adventures for the little ones!
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Favourite haunt: the royal palace with a ghostly past lifting spirits in Ras Al Khaimah
Al qasimi palace was abandoned decades ago amid fears of paranormal activity but has now swung open its doors to the public once more.
Owner of Al Qasimi Haunted Palace, Tareq Al Sharhan. All photos by Chris Whiteoak/ The National
Abu Yasir was first invited to Al Qasimi Palace in Ras Al Khaimah 20 years ago. But when he saw the towering white palace on the hill, fear overcame him.
He knew the stories of its jinn, the supernatural spirits said to roam its halls. He knew people had heard children’s voices, seen faces in dark windows. He had heard of its abandonment after furniture was inexplicably tossed around inside, like toys.
“I didn’t want to enter,” said Abu Yasir, a Syrian resident of 40 years who did not want to give his full name. “I didn’t want to see anything strange.”
He kept driving.
Today, Abu Yasir sells tickets at the palace gates and the manor is Ras Al Khaimah’s busiest tourist attraction. The mysterious palace opened its doors a few weeks ago for the first time in more than 30 years.
Abu Yasir works in a room with white and blue Moroccan tiles, lit by a French chandelier.
A year ago, the prospect would have sent shivers up his spine.
Today, he sees the palace differently.
That is the point, says the palace’s new owner.
Tareq Al Sharhan wants people to see the four-storey palace as it was originally intended: a spectacular piece of art.
The palace was the dream house of Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi, a member of the Ras Al Khaimah ruling family who commissioned its construction in 1975.
He had artists decorate its vast hallways in Moroccan tile, adorn bedrooms walls with bucolic paintings of frolicking ghazals, birds and dusky maidens.
They sculpted plaster pigeons and owls into the walls. The manor was a testament to Middle Eastern art and took 15 years to complete.
“Imagine it 40 years ago,” Mr Al Sharhan said. “The original idea was to build a special palace in a special place and the sheikh liked art. In the 1980s, this was something very special.”
Mr Al Sharhan grew up in the neighbourhood and remembers the house “when it was black”. Rumours of it being haunted began before construction was even complete.
“Before it was finished. Yanni, how can it be haunted if it’s not even finished?”
He has little interest in the supernatural.
“I don’t scare and I don’t care. I am a businessman and I like the arts,” Mr Al Sharhan said.
“Everybody knew this place was for ghosts. I thought I could change its story to something better, something cultural, something for tourists.”
Boasting strange and unconventional architecture, the palace was abandoned for decades due to its haunted history. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Its paranormal reputation has long attracted thrill seekers from across the country and even inspired an Arabic novel by journalist Rym Tina Ghazal.
Holy men came too, promising to expel unwelcome spirits with incantations. They scratched out the eyes of humans and animals from paintings and beheaded plaster birds, in the belief that the depiction of human-like forms was un-Islamic and would attract jinn.
Mr Al Sharhan bought the property last year, after years of negotiation.
Restoration took six months. Today, it has the air of a polished estate, no speck of dust and no trace of jinn.
The 40 French and Belgian crystal chandeliers dusted and polished, the Moroccan wall tiles repainted and re-stuck, the paintings restored, the heads re-sculpted on plaster birds.
“It was all broken and with no heads, so I brought somebody to build new heads,” Mr Al Sharhan said.
Mr Al Sharhan, a painter in his youth and a collector of antiques, feels it was a worthy investment. He will not divulge what he spent on the palace. “It’s not cheap. But I think it’s a good price for a palace like this. Just sometimes, you have to do crazy things," he said.
Mr Al Sharhan said he would convert the original servants quarters into escape rooms and open cafes and art exhibitions in some of the palace's 38 rooms. He will also, perhaps, build chalets outside.
Consensus on the palace has changed overnight, with the building transforming from spooked manor to a kitsch 1970s architectural wonder.
To some visitors, this is a disappointment.
The palace is open temporarily for feedback. “People already started to think of it in a different way," Mr Al Sharhan said.
"After I started restoration, one guy came to me and said, ‘I can clean the place of jinn’. I told him, ‘I bought this palace because there’ are jinn inside and you want to remove them?'”
Repairmen saw nothing unusual during restoration.
Well, almost nothing.
“There was one man, from India, eating inside on the first floor bathroom when he heard a big sound,” said Mr Abdulrazak Abdulrashid, 47, a member of the maintenance team. “He was frightened and he asked to return to India afterwards.”
The restored interior is almost at odds with the unconventional outer facade. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Abu Yasir listened to his tale, unconvinced. “I think he wanted a bigger salary. He left not for fear but because he wanted a bigger salary.”
Mr Abdulrashid nodded. “I think he wanted drama," he said.
They are agreed jinn may have been here once. Jinn are known to hate development. They inhabit abandoned places.
So what happens when a jinn loses its home? Ras Al Khaimah was once a jinn hotspot but favourite haunts have grown crowded and disappeared entirely.
The abandoned the pearling village of Jazirat Al Hamra , a dense settlement of crumbling coral stone and sandbrick houses, is undergoing archaeological excavation. Ras Al Khaimah's mangroves are steadily shrinking. The desert has been flattened for government housing and far flung wadis are crisscrossed by motorways.
Even the elders from the palace neighbourhood disappear in the late afternoon and travel across town to sit in cafes in a quiet creekside area.
“Maybe the jinn have gone to Burj Al Arab,” joked Hamed Sultan, 65, a neighbour of the palace and a creekside cafe regular.
“People talk a lot about the palace but there’s no truth in it,” said Mohammed Ismail, 62, another neighbour at the cafe. “There’s no certainty in truth. In my opinion, there was nothing there.”
Were jinn in the abandoned palace? The consensus in the cafe was that there probably were. Did they remain after visits by exorcists and Quranic recitations? No chance.
Abu Yasir is equally sceptical, although he is careful never to utter the word "jinn". “If you think about ghosts in your head, anything you see will be ghosts,” he said. “Maybe your own breath seems to be a ghost.”
He can now stay inside the palace for hours without fear.
“I am sure nobody is there, only history,” Abu Yasir said. “Until the evening comes. Then, maybe.”
Tickets are available at the gate, daily from 9am-7pm; Dh75 per person; Al Qasimi Palace, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Road, Ras Al Khaimah
The extraordinary stories shaping a people and a nation
Ras Al Khaimah ghost house or Haunted Palace
The Ras Al Khaimah ghost house or Haunted Palace is one of the tourist attractions you can visit during your one-day trip to RAK. The palace is built by the late Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi in 1985 and was reportedly worth AED 500M. The Al Qasimi Palace is a four-storey structure that reflects the magnificence and beauty of Arab culture. The palace has 35 rooms with Marble floors, beautiful glass chandeliers and art forms. In addition one of the attraction is a huge Pyramid that sits at the top of the mansion.
Ras Al Khaimah ghost house entry fee | Al Qasimi palace ticket price
- 75 AED Per Person
- 50 AED for family & groups
Ras Al Khaimah ghost house timing
- Sunday to Thursday – 9AM to 7PM
Ras Al Khaimah ghost house location
Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Rd – Saqr Bin Mohd City – Ras al Khaimah
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/gXDGD5vSHn6foKs17
Ras Al Khaimah ghost house history
Since 1985, Ras Al Khaimah has been home to a mysterious palace which empty for the majority of that time. Rumou r has it that:
the family of the late Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi who built it, moved out after one night claiming the property was haunted. After years of speculation and mystery, the haunted Palace is open to the public.
Important note: Photography inside the palace is banned and you could get a fine of Dhs200.
Another place to visit in Ras Al Khaimah: RAK Zoo – UAE’s Third-Largest Zoo in Ras Al Khaimah
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Al Jazirat Al Hamra: The Ghost Town of Ras Al Khaimah
By: Author Elle Croft
Earlier this year, Elle visited Ras Al Khaimah, a little-known gem in the UAE. We think you need to get Ras Al Khaimah on your bucket list before this secret destination gets on the radar of travel lovers worldwide. RAK is the ideal destination if you’re looking for affordable luxury travel with 5* holidays starting from less than £385 for flights and accommodation! Yes, you read that correctly! This price includes breakfasts, transfers and kids stay for free. (Travel until 30.09.16)
Check out Southall Travel’s 5* holidays to Ras Al Khaimah for more info.
Now it’s over to Elle to tell us more about one of her favourite experiences in Ras Al Khaimah…
Frozen in time and and coated with a layer of ochre desert sand, Al Jazirat Al Hamra is a hamlet of perfectly-preserved Ras Al Khaimah history. And dust isn’t the only thing covering the town; it’s shrouded in mystery, surrounded by rumours and possibly even haunted by ancient ghosts.
Just 12 or so miles south of Ras Al Khaimah’s main town, off the highway that speeds past Ice Land water park and a giant mall, lies an old pearl fishing village. Once a thriving community, it’s now a sort of open air museum, but without the ticket office or cheesy audio guides.
The Ghost Town of Ras Al Khaimah, as it’s often called, is not really on the tourist map, nor has it been earmarked for demolition to make way for new developments. It’s no surprise, really, given that this emirate – sometimes referred to as the “rebel emirate” isn’t joining its famous neighbour’s race to build the biggest, tallest or longest of anything.
It can’t compete with Dubai – and doesn’t want to, anyway. Ras Al Khaimah has a rich and fascinating history, which it’s proudly determined to preserve.
In the 14th century, Al Jazirat Al Hamra was built by three local tribes, including the ruling Za’ab tribe. The piece of land was once a tidal island, and the name Al Jazirat Al Hamra translates literally from Arabic to mean “red island”.
In around 1830, an estimated 200 people lived in this small village, with most of them earning their living as pearl fishermen. The population swelled to around two thousand in the 20th century, right before the whole lot abandoned their homes.
The buildings were built from coral stones, held together by mud and covered by a roof of woven date palms, much like the other pre-oil era buildings in the area. It’s incredible to think that they’ve withstood the tests of time, through hundreds of years of blazing sun, biting sandstorms and tribal conflicts.
It was these very conflicts that were said to have caused the villagers to leave some time in the 60s, although rumours vary, depending on your source.
Some say it was the promise of prosperity that led the locals of Al Jazirat Al Hamra to Abu Dhabi. Others muse that a tribal dispute with the leader of Ras Al Khaimah forced the villagers to seek safety in their neighbours’ land. Still others insist that it was ghosts haunting the coral-and-mud dwellings that drove the inhabitants away.
Whatever it was, they seem to have left in a hurry.
Wandering through the town, it’s easy to see why people think it might be haunted. Peeking through padlocked doors, I spied a forlorn classroom complete with ramshackle desks and benches. Another building revealed a wooden bed frame, leaning away from a bedside table that was blanketed in fine red dust.
A broken tile, a shredded flag snapping gently in the breeze, a once vibrantly-embroidered blue cushion that holds the secrets of a hundred casual conversations.
Signs of life are everywhere, and yet life in this place is long gone – moved along to another city, and forgotten. Well, almost forgotten.
In 2011, a local resident who had grown up in Al Jazirat Al Hamra during its heydey began cleaning up the village, which had become derelict in the 50 years since the residents’ exodus. He gathered some of the other past residents who also remained in the area, and together they restored much of their old home.
Huge sections of the village are still just piles of rubble – you can tiptoe through them if you like, although you do so at your own risk. There are no tour guides, no guards, and no warning signs. But the main street is tidy and curious – a boat stands guard in the main square, along with the shell of a car – said to be the first car in Ras Al Khaimah, and at the other end lies the village mosque.
It’s a simple affair with no minarets, just a squat tower peering over the remains of what might just be Ras Al Khaimah’s most enchanting and mysterious destination.
This post was brought to you by the #DiscoverRAK project, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Royal Brunei Airlines and Ras Al Khaimah Tourism , but all opinions are my own.
Pin this for later
Saturday 4th of February 2023
Its a nice place to visit
Saturday 15th of May 2021
Hi i visted the place is now converted as a mall& town ship .The previous are is no more
Tuesday 19th of January 2021
I lived in Dubai 2005 to 2010, and on weekends would drive to RAK. Every now and again, I would stop off here for a nosy around. But I have a feeling that the boat and the land rover are a more recent addition for effect. Because they were not there then. However, I remember that very unusual round building that looks like it might be a communal oven or smoke house. Some workers has already been there because areas were already roped, not to exlude access, but to accentuate the main street and side lanes. Oddly enough. It didn't feel spooky. But hurriedly abandoned definitely. Once I went there and there was a fashion photo shoot going on with models and flash cars all over.
Wednesday 27th of April 2016
Fascinating read and I loved the photos. You often wonder about the places that get left behind by the rush to modernise, especially in the Middle East.
Such a cool place!!
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Lost in the Thai countryside, a young American couple find themselves haunted by an evil spirit. Desperate for a solution, they spiral deeper into a surreal, supernatural world that leads them into a frenzied, terrifying confrontation with pure evil.
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Ras Al Khaimah’s abandoned ‘ghost town’ comes alive
- Living In UAE
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Once shrouded in mystery with stories of djinns and ghosts, Al Jazirah Al Hamra is now a vibrant space for people to rediscover the cultural heritage of Ras Al Khaimah
There is an unmistakable air of mystery surrounding the crumbling ruins of an abandoned fishing and pearling village that lie around 20 kilometres from Ras Al Khaimah’s city centre. For almost half a century, emptied of its inhabitants and their belongings, this 16th century village with its houses and mosques built in coral stone and sand, had remained a silent testimonial of an era when pearling was the prime source of prosperity.
Standing on what was once a tidal island, this coastal town was at the mouth of a strategic location that attracted wealth, foreign powers and immigrants from across the region.
A neighbourhood community of around 280 houses, Al Jazirah Al Hamra, which literally translates from Arabic to mean “red island”, has remained a mute witness to the march of progress that accompanied the discovery of oil in the 1960s. As towns and cities around it grew and prospered, with business establishments, hotels and shopping malls springing up in quick succession, the abandoned town continued to remain untouched, retaining its old-world charm.
In the years that followed, just as its labyrinthine alleyways and large houses with visible signs of affluence conjured up images of a thriving life of the past, so too did the myth and mystery shrouding this little village grow as stories of djinns and ghosts now began to be whispered, heightening the eeriness that permeated the walls of its quaint houses.
Very soon, the desolate ruins that stood in a land marked by tribal conflicts, scorching summers, strong winds and heavy sandstorms, earned itself the unsavoury sobriquet of a ‘ghost town’ and a ‘haunted’ neighbourhood. The rich and fascinating history of the community that once flourished here soon faded into oblivion as it was with a deep sense of dread and fear that curious visitors trod cautiously among the piles of stones in the day time, consciously opting to stay clear of it at night.
Al Jazirah Al Hamra would perhaps have vanished from sight and memory with the passage of time had it not been for the timely intervention of three governmental organisations in the UAE that sought to preserve this cultural relic through rehabilitation and restoration efforts. Thanks to a joint project undertaken by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs Abu Dhabi, the Ministry of Infrastructure Development Abu Dhabi, and the Department of Antiquities and Museums, Government of Ras Al Khaimah, this historic site has just completed the first phase of its restoration process in January this year.
Breaking free from the shackles of the jinx of ancient spirits, this one-of-a-kind coastal village and the last authentic traditional town still standing in the UAE, is now transforming itself into a vibrant space for people to rediscover the cultural heritage of Ras Al Khaimah.
In its new avatar, the majestic beauty of the traditional architecture of Al Jazirah Al Hamra and the grandeur that it evokes has lent itself as a scenic backdrop for the ongoing 7th edition of the annual Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF), an open-air art exhibition that champions local artistic talent and promotes a diversity of artistic expression covering a range of genres.
‘The colourful contemporary art contrasts well with the recently restored historic village to embody this year’s theme of Old Meets New,’ says Caitrin Mullan, community engagement & outreach director at the Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, the organiser of the event. ‘The historic pearling village has a special place in the hearts of the people of Ras Al Khaimah as it is steeped in culture and history. By making it the venue of the RAK Fine Arts Festival, visitors can now soak in both its architectural splendour and layers of history while also exploring large-scale contemporary photo works from local and international artists.’
Not long ago, Al Jazirah Al Hamra was a renowned pearling centre, she explains. ‘The houses here evoke the lifestyle of a not too distant past and the community was home to both wealthy pearl merchants and those engaged in maritime trade. Much like the pre-oil buildings of the era, the houses were built mainly with large pieces of corals and shells while date palm trunks lined its roofs. Architectural details show that post-1950s, many of the affluent renovated their homes, sometimes knocking down walls to include the conveniences of modern living such as a parking garage or attached bath facilities.’
Most of its inhabitants were from the Al Zaabi tribe but also included citizens of Arab, Iranian and African descent. It is estimated that there were more than a thousand people living here when they abandoned their homes and moved en masse to Abu Dhabi in the early 1970s. By this time, the global market for natural pearls had crashed due to Japan’s mass production of cheaper, cultured pearls. It is widely believed that the community moved to the UAE capital in search of better prospects and living conditions or perhaps it was disputes between local families that caused the sudden departure.
‘The Al Zaabi tribe, who were the last to live here, are still the owners of the abandoned buildings,’ adds Caitrin.
Even today, as it did decades ago, a traditional long dhow boat occupies pride of place at the main square, attesting to its pearling tradition. Two towers, one circular and one square, stand tall in the fort, overlooking the cluster of newly restored dwellings and the visual arts exhibition.
A pop of colour bursts from the walls as Colombian artist Leonardo Montoya’s pop-art portraits that recreates popular images with a classical approach and a contemporary twist leap out with their distinctive colour, composition and rhythm. The bold sculpted faces against a solid-coloured background is eye catching.
‘I feel that art can break cultural barriers,’ says the artist whose meeting with Aseel, a woman he met at RAKFAF last year, led to the culmination of three mega portraits now adorning the coral walls of Al Jazirah Al Hamra. ‘As a figurative mixed media artist, I portray the uniqueness of people so that my audience can relate, accept and embrace versatility. After meeting Aseel, I wanted, with a deep sense of respect and admiration, to portray not only her beauty but also the strength of her character.’
Leonardo Montoya, whose fascination for the human form developed from a very young age, says, ‘I am very impressed with the growth and development of the Festival this year. The new location is amazing as it reflects the cultural heritage of the emirate. I believe that art plays a very important role in a developing city because it helps to shape its identity. Tolerance and diversity philosophies are subjects that usually form part of my artwork, so it was very nice to find that common ground here.’
We walk through the dusty streets, taking in both the enchanting art works on display and peering into the unique architecture around us. A little yonder, amidst the ruins, is propped up a photographic image of a herd of camels crossing the sea with the waves lashing out against them. Titled ‘Hope’, the artist, Gillian Robertson who has been living in Ras Al Khaimah for the past four years says, ‘It was a day after a stormy night that I came across this scene, of camels crossing the sea with their owners. As I witnessed their struggle to lead the animals forward while navigating the crashing waves, I could see a range of emotions cross their faces, hoping that the animals will get through without any harm.’
Gillian, who is currently working on a UK-UAE based inter-culturalism project, says, ‘Hope, for me, is a word that evokes expectations of positive outcomes, and this was the dominant emotion reflected in the eyes of these camel handlers.”’
‘Hope’ won the first prize in the Digital Art category at RAKFAF. ‘It is a great honour and I am humbled by the recognition,’ says the artist.
Walking along the winding pathways, Caitrin points out that this year’s event was inspired by the La Gacilly Photo Festival in France where hundreds of large format photographs are showcased for four months each year in the parks, squares and flowery streets of a picturesque town that lies in the middle of Brittany. ‘It is now the biggest outdoor photography festival in France, and we were inspired to try this format in the intriguing setting of this magnificent site here in Ras Al Khaimah.’
Accordingly, 110 artworks by more than 70 artists representing 30 nationalities are represented at this year’s RAK Fine Arts Festival. The smallest pieces are 1x1 metre and the largest require multiple panels, some reaching five and six metres in length.
Six compounds or villas have currently been restored in the first phase of redevelopment using the architectural guidelines that were apparent from the original structures. Villa 1 is dominated by a UAE theme where Polish artist Kasia Dzikowska’s portraits of the UAE’s founder Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the former Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, Shaikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, are installed. UAE-based Mexican artist Jose Toledo’s ‘Jalboot’ features several dhows in the bluish waters of the Arabian coast while Canadian Maya Esta chose to portray the allure of Dubai’s Old Souk with a passenger-laden abra on the Creek set against the backdrop of a cluster of wind-towered buildings.
Other highlights at the RAK Fine Arts Festival include US artist Karen Knorr’s India Song, a series of digital photographs that celebrates the rich hybridity of visual culture found in northern and southern India that is showcased in the old Al Jazirah Al Hamra fort. Against the backdrop of palace architecture, wild animals photographed on location have been inserted thereby fusing high-resolution digital with analog photography.
A series of images by American photojournalist Jeff Topping that was featured in the book People of Ras Al Khaimah, authored by Anna Zacharias and which tells the stories of many of its most remarkable residents are also a highlight at this event. ‘These images were taken during the course of long conversations, held over several days, with the people living in the emirate, embodying its transition from the 1950s to the present,’ explains Caitrin.
The festival curators have also showcased the artistic talents of several prominent and emerging artists of the UAE. Aman Al Mansoori presents an expression of beauty with her ‘Patience’s Beauty’ while Maryam Al Mutawa has brought out vividly the stereotypical Western portrayal of Middle Eastern men. To balance the rough, emotionless features as depicted by the Western artists, she has placed colourful flowers in the background hinting at the depth of beauty hiding behind the physical features of these men in three portraits.
Final year medical student Noora Al Shehhi, a self-taught abstract artist, has used the power of digital technology to portray what she witnesses in the corridors of the hospital surgery rooms every day. Titled ‘Anticipation’, she explains that she ‘drew it last year when I took the first steps towards realising my dream of becoming a neurosurgeon — a discipline that sees an overwhelming range of emotions from sadness and shock to fear, grief, hope and anticipation.
‘When waiting for a loved one to come out of surgery, it is anticipation that you see writ large on the faces of the families waiting outside; the uncertainty of it all and the desperate hope of an optimistic outcome. I am inspired by the people I meet every day at the hospital. Their expectant glances, nervous energy, glimmer of hope, the silent prayers – all these are a constant source of inspiration.’
However, the biggest inspiration, she adds, stems from just being in the operation theatre. ‘I look at the paint brush as an extension of the surgeon’s scalpel — both need a skilled hand, deft movements and a keen eye.’
Noora, who was born and grew up in Ras Al Khaimah, says ‘it is an honour for me to have the privilege of exhibiting in my home town. This is where my artistic journey began; I drew my first pieces here starting with cartoon characters and images from my bedroom wallpapers. And to be featured alongside other national and international artistes is humbling indeed.’
The setting for this year’s RAKFAF is phenomenal, she adds. ‘The way the artworks aesthetically blend into the restored structures is mesmerising; it is surreal.’
Know before you go
The outdoor art exhibition at Al Jazirah Al Hamra Old Town runs until April 20. Timing: Sunrise to Sunset, free entry. Wear closed shoes preferably to offer protection as you wander through the site. Don’t forget your cameras — this is a great spot for Instagram-worthy images.
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Photos: irish expat visits 'haunted' palace in uae.
Ras Al Khaimah - "You name it, and every spooky connotation you could think of popped up when I typed 'Al Qasimi Palace'," KT reporter Kelly Clarke.
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You Can Now Visit The Haunted Palace In Ras Al Khaimah
UAE is known for the tallest, largest and the craziest, but did you know the country has a few haunted sites too? If you remember, the Haunted Palace of Ras Al Khaimah has been one of the most mysterious buildings in the country. And, this haunted palace is now open to the public. The haunted site in the northern emirates can now be added onto UAE’s list of attractions , if you dare to!
The Haunted Palace in Ras Al Khaimah is now open to the public. The palace was constructed in 1985 by late Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi. and is known for its extraordinary architecture. However, the palace was considered haunted, after horror stories and mysterious incidents cropped up.
And in case you didn’t know the UAE has a huge list of attractions coming up in 2020.
Inside The Palace
The palace features 35 rooms, each boasting spectacular antique artifacts and paintings. The central area has a glass pyramid- made of Islamic, Moroccan, Indian and Persian designs. This allows sunlight to pass through, adding to the palace’s beauty. The glass chandeliers inside the palace are imported from Belgium and France.
Guests can visit the palace from 9am to 7pm. The entry costs AED 75 for each individual, and AED 50 per person in a group.
Meanwhile, this is not the only haunted place in UAE. From abandoned houses to tunnels and towns, here are five most haunted places in the UAE.
1. Al Jazirah Al Hamra
Known for its collection of abandoned houses, and other buildings including a mosque, Al Jazirah Al Hamra was once home to three indigenous tribes. It is located to the south of the city of Ras Al Khaimah and is built on red sand, hence the name ‘Red Island’. The town is now abandoned so much so that you might find no sighting even if you visit it during the day.
Credits: Al Jazirah Al Hamra
2. Al Qasimi Palace
If you are the kind to get scared of palaces and children as ghosts, this one’s not for you! Built at a whooping AED 500 million over 25 years ago, the palace has reportedly remained empty, but for one night. Rumors have it that strange things were sighted in the palace – furniture gone ‘missing’, faces of little children peeping through the windows in the night, which ultimately drove people out of the huge abode.
Credits: Al Qasimi Palace Facebook
3. Pan Emirates And The Tunnel
The tunnel leading to the airport is considered spooky especially while passing through it. People have reportedly felt someone next to them, even when they were traveling alone. And, thanks to the neighboring cemetery for adding on to the over all creepiness.
4. Jumeirah’s Horror House
There can be nothing spookier than horror homes and this house at Building-4 housing in Jumeirah is proof enough. Owned by Filipinos, reports are that people hear moans of a man, cries of a baby and other paranormal activities from the house. The house is considered haunted, so much so, that people fear even to pass by it.
5. Al Khail Gate
This one’s Dubai’s recently halted place. The Al Khail Gate at Al Quoz was built in 2011 and was first occupied by three people. However, they vacated the place in no time after they noticed cell phones, combs and other things missing every night. After this incident, no one dare to move in.
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