Around 12 miles south of Ras Al Khaimah in United Arab Emirates lies an abandoned pearl fishing village. This small fishing village was once a thriving community but for some unknown reason was abandoned leaving the entire village totally abandoned.
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.
Huge sections of the village are still just piles of rubble. 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 is fascinating to walk around this abandoned village and try to imagine the tough existence the local residents had to put up with with the hot desert conditions and lack of resources.
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