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Ras Al Khaimah Draws U.K. Tourists for a Much-Needed Pandemic Get-Away

British travelers will finally be able to return to one of their favorite destinations after the U.A.E. made it to the U.K.’s Amber list on Sunday, August 8. In Ras Al Khaimah, extreme diligence has ensured that it is prepared to face the new demands and adapt to them.

Ras Al Khaimah is the first city to be granted the Safeguard Assurance label from Bureau Veritas. It also got the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels stamp ahead of any other location globally. This archaeologically rich location was also the first to provide free polymerase chain reaction tests to inbound travelers – a gesture that continues to date.

In addition, the fast-growing popular destination of RAK, voted the gulf tourism capital for the second consecutive year, is the hub of adventure and outdoor activities, along with sustainable tourism initiatives.

But how has Ras Al Khaimah managed to pull this off? 

It is not a secret that R.A.K. has been trying to come out of the shadow of the two more popular destinations Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Blessed with the uniqueness of its natural landscape, the visionary leadership of this Northernmost Emirate realized tourism is the best way to match and, in the long term, surpassing the accomplishments of the bigger cities.

With this realization came the continuous investment in its tourism sector. The U.A.E.’s fourth-largest region recently invested over £96 million (half a billion in AED) in its tourism sector, resulting in over twenty exciting sustainable tourism initiatives to attract 1.5 million tourists by the end of 2021 and 3 million by 2025.

Adding to its credentials as a destination of distinction, a new pop-up hotel concept in the U.A.E.’s highest peak, Jebel Jais, further underscores its position as a destination of importance in the post-pandemic era.

Among the city’s other efforts, Ras Al Khaimah and Bear Grylls have partnered to offer a new outdoor adventure camp on Jebel Jais, the U.A.E.’s highest mountain.

With a camera crew attached to him, the former Special Air Service trooper goes on televised expeditions into the unknown. His outdoor witticisms are a part of the courses offered in Ras al-Khaimah, which last for several hours or include a whole overnight experience, including courses in learning to use knives, knot tying, and dining far beyond beach resort standards on a beach vacation.

In an interview, Bear Grylls Survival Academy’s lead instructor Martin Norton stated that people today want to challenge themselves. He said further, “We try to take everyone to their sort of limit where they feel like they’re uncomfortable, and we can, you know, push them. And people then believe after the course they’re capable of a lot more than what they think they are.”

Tourists today seek rather personal space and a close connection to nature than the crowded beaches and bustling cities of the past. By taking this step, Ras Al Khaimah will be able to step out of the shadow of its well-known neighbors, offering luxury hotels and infrastructure in an unspoiled desert, beach, and mountain setting.

R.A.K. has taken proactive steps to prevent the spread of the virus among travelers, collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Prevention in the U.A.E.

According to the C.E.O. of the Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), Raki Phillips, the region also provides free coronavirus nasal-swab tests for international travelers. This move is to assure tourists that they are free from infection. The government subsidizes the tests to help remove that financial burden on tourists.

The destination has also collaborated with EarthCheck, a global environmental expert, to develop and implement genuinely sustainable practices in its hotels, such as reduced food wastage, increased recycling, deregulation of energy usage and water usage, and clean-ups of tourist areas.

Furthermore, in addition to the existing 6,726 hotel rooms, 4,718 more rooms are in the pipeline in the Emirate: a 70 percent increase.

The Bottom Line

Ras Al Khaimah is a testament to the work of visionary leadership that recognizes tourism as an essential pillar of its economy and hopes to create a future where this sector is a primary contributor to the region’s economic growth.

The destination has also taken two significant steps in recent years to keep tourists coming back: It has added more luxury accommodations and infrastructure and explored sustainable tourism practices. It is no surprise that since being off the U.K.’s amber list, British tourists are now flocking back to this popular destination.

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