Al Hamra Ghost Town

A ghost town or a crumbling piece of history?

Jazirat Al Hamra is located in Ras Al Khaimah, the most northern of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates. It is also known locally as the ghost town.

Al Jazirat is the ancestral home of the Za’ab tribe who left Ras Al Khaimah following an ongoing dispute with the then ruler, and were given refuge and housing in Abu Dhabi by the late Sheikh Zayed.

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The main paths meander through the village taking you through hidden doorways into a forgotten past.

If you visit when the time is right, you’re bound to stumble into a few jinns, possibly in the form of some animal (maybe a goat or a large cat).

Jazirat Al Hamra has fascinating old buildings that take you back in time. The old homes are mostly built around a central courtyard, often with a henna tree at its centre. Bricks made from coral and sea shells together with stone and mud created the walls of the oldest buildings. Most of the houses were built from coral rag, the roofs and supports constructed from palm trunks. The newer buildings were built from bricks of crushed coral.

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The faded glory taken by Jan-Phillip van der Merwe

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Jazirat Al Hamra may be a ghost town to many, but it’s an amazing piece of history. It’s also the last authentic and traditional town still standing in the U.A.E. If the government does not do anything to preserve it soon, it’s going to be lost to us forever.

I’ve been visiting and photographing this place for the past 10 years now. I love the quiet energy and the eerie calm that settles around you when you wander the old streets. The last couple of visits I’ve noticed that parts of it have been cleared up and other parts have been fenced off. As sad as I am about the fact that access is becoming more restricted, I do hope that this is the beginning of its preservation.

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If you want to know more about the ghost town, I recently posted a video about it on Youtube. Feel free to have a look here.

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