Ras Al Khaimah boasts diverse landscapes from white sandy beaches, jagged mountain ranges, mangroves and verdant parks for you and…
Ras Al Khaimah and the rest of the United Arab Emirates have an eclectic population of almost 200 nationalities; consequently, the souvenirs available are playful and diverse. Whether you seek unusual gifts, food offerings or traditional souvenirs, you’ll be able to find something suitable for you or your nearest and dearest in one of the many souqs, boutiques or shopping malls around the northernmost emirate.
From Gaudy Souvenirs to Gold
Established over half a century ago, Kuwaiti Souq lies in the old town of Ras Al Khaimah. Its bustling streets come alive in the early mornings or late afternoons. Amble around the slew of shops selling everything from colourful rugs to beautifully tailored garments, including traditional Emirati clothing such as shemagh, ghatra, shawls, undershirts, wezar, egal, sandals, cufflinks and wallets. You’ll find summer clothing, shawls, the finest gold jewellery, old-fashioned miswak toothbrushes and even falconry hoods. Have fun trying to identify some of the ancient wares that are still in use today! If you are a cook, check out the spice markets for popular Arabian spices such as cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, sumac, bahārāt, caraway and anise seed. At the market, try Karak Chai, a traditional Indian tea that is a deliciously sweet blend of evaporated milk and spices.
Ras Al Khaimah pearls represent millennia-old Emirati culture. Today, pearl fishing is still revered as one of the UAE’s treasured traditions. Magical folklore surrounds the beautiful gemstones, leading Ras Al Khaimah to be known as ‘The pearl of the Emirate’. Enjoy a fascinating tour or visit the pearl gift shop at Suwaidi Pearl Farm in Al Rams, a little fishing village near the Omani border. The gift shop is home to an exquisitely curated collection of some of the most delicate pearls; if you choose a tour after learning all about the ancient pearl fishing traditions, you can open an oyster to see if there is an Arabian pearl for you to take home.
Whilst Bedouins have used camels for their milk for centuries; camel milk products are tricky to find. Call into Spinneys on the ground floor of Al Hamra Mall, and you’ll find an impressive selection of milk, ice cream (eat it straight away!), delicious chocolate and beauty products packed with omega oils, vitamins, collagen and anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
The musky scent of Oud is synonymous with Arabia. The complex fragrance is warm, animalic, slightly sweet, and lingers long after it’s been applied or burned. Across Ras Al Khaimah, you’ll find various family-run shops or large branded stores in each of the malls that sell Oud in various guises, from perfume to oils and incense.
Many traditional Emirati homes have centrepiece lanterns handcrafted with coloured glass and mirrors. Artisanal lanterns are often made from copper and tin with delicate filigree detailing. The beautiful lanterns are intentionally designed to play with light, casting pretty shadows across your room. Have a hunt in some of the eccentric shops in Kuwaiti Souq for a bargain, or head to one of the interior design centres in Manar, RAK, Safeer or Al Hamra malls for a greater choice.
Kava Pots and Cups
An intrinsic part of world-famed Arabian hospitality, the locals, regularly drink kava, strong black coffee. The cups are usually made of copper or silver and set on a tray. The coffee pots are often plated with gold or silver and can even have intricate carvings and inlaid semiprecious stones. In traditional Emirati homes, the kava sets are customarily family heirlooms passed from generation to generation. You’ll find kava pots and cups in most homeware stores or hidden away in a little shop in Kuwaiti Souq.
Recognisable as ‘Aladdin’ shoes, the slim-fitting slippers are a riot of colour that taper at the toe-line embellished with tiny beads or whorls of tightly rolled cloth. The men’s shoes often have a curled-up tip. Hunt through Kuwaiti Souq for your perfect ‘wish come true’ shoes.
Part of the traditional attire of the elders or tribesmen, the khanjar is a wooden dagger beautifully embossed in gold or silver and worn on a belt over a kandura. Ornate daggers have marble, silver or sandalwood handles, and the sheath is often decorated with a fine silver-thread weave. The sheath should have two rings so you can attach it to your belt. Explore the shops in the old part of the city or Kuwaiti Souq for your own tribal collector’s item!
Lucky birthstones are thought to bring good fortune to the wearer. January’s birthstone is garnet, April’s diamond, June’s pearl or moonstones, September’s sapphires and December’s turquoise. The variety of designs is mesmerising, from inlaid gold, silver and platinum rings, to necklaces, bracelets, earrings and cufflinks. The Middle Eastern filigree work is exceptional and enhances the stones and setting. You’ll find simple linear designs and fancier work in many of the shopping malls and Kuwaiti Souk across Ras Al Khaimah.