Ras Al Khaimah: Abandoned Fishing Village

Jazirat Al Hamra Fishing Village

Ras Al Khaimah Emirate

United Arab Emirates

April 5, 2016

My Friends,

In the guidebook, the abandoned Jazirat Al Hamra Fishing Village is categorized as a “neighborhood….”

“….For an authentic glimpse of the pre-oil era, poke around this deliciously spooky ghost town, one of the oldest and best preserved coastal villages in the UAE.”

“First settled in the 14th Century, its people subsisted mostly on fishing and pearling until they suddenly picked up and left in 1968.”*

Cautiously I make my way up and around the rocky paths amid the cluttered ruins of homes, schools, shops, mosques and towers. 

I am fascinated by the building materials:  bricks and stone of course.  But on close inspection, at least a third of the material consists of hard, durable, dense and long dead coral, crushed coral and an admixture of sea shells!    

As I recall the nomenclature of the oil-drenched Dubai skyscrapers... in this “cluster” of low-rise neighborhood clutter, one huge structure dominates the vista.   At first I thought it was a church.  But once again, on close inspection, there is no sign of any religious décor on the façade.  And besides, would there be such an obvious and clearly grand sacred Christian building in this neighborhood of Islam?  The stone decorations remind me of what I saw at the Sharjah University City: traditional Islamic design. 

The building sits atop a high stone foundation.  To protect the structure and its contents from the rising tide of the nearby sea?  But I can only guess at the purpose of the building.    

Suddenly, as I was about to leave this oddly attractive neighborhood of deterioration,  a sign of ancient life makes a surprising appearance amid the stone cold jumble of debris.  Black, brown and white, a herd of goats hurriedly clatters down the rocky path.  They barely give me a glance.  Single file with their bells ringing, they trot off, to who knows where? **

*Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula.  Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd.  4th edition. Sep 2013.  Pg 321.

** By now you’ve probably guessed that your friend Jan is so much more comfortable as he shuffles, staggers and stumbles around  some unkempt, dusty, sun-bleached neighborhood of ruins in the middle of nowhere than he is pushing a button on a lift to ascend to a viewing platform or waiting for the light to change in some hygienic, clutter-free, modern, manicured, mid-town metropolis.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Whatever makes you happy, Jan.”

I confess, I have to admit, I miss New York.

 

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