The United Arab Emirates and Ras Al Khaimah, in particular, have an extraordinary pearl fishing history that dates back over seven millennia. Archaeologists have discovered that Ras Al Khaimah’s pearl industry was thriving in the 12th century, known as the early part of the High Middle Ages or the Age of the Cistercians. Ras Al Khaimah became one of the busiest trading ports in the region because of its pearl industry.

 

Celebrating the history of pearl fishing in Ras Al Khaimah, Abdulla Al Suwaidi opened Suwaidi Pearl Farm in honour of his late grandfather, Mohammed. Abdulla watched in awe as his grandfather would disappear under the water for minutes at a time and return clutching spherical translucent treasures that royal families would wear. Abdulla was convinced that Mohammed was half man and half fish.

Even today, pearl fishing is still revered as one of the UAE’s treasured traditions. Entire communities of men would dive for exotic pearls. In historical times, turtle shell nose clips were used whilst diving; divers plugged their ears with wax and consumed endless sweet dates and coffee before each dive. Every man had a specific responsibility that ensured boat safety and smooth running of the community. Outsiders were strictly forbidden unless they had the approval of one of the local rulers.

 

The current day Suwaidi Pearls Farm is in Al Rams, the northernmost neighbourhood of Ras Al Khaimah. Village life hasn’t changed much over the centuries. The wives of the pearl fishermen will still welcome home their loved husbands, brothers and sons with musk, saffron and amber offerings. You can still, on occasion, hear the chants and songs of seafaring journeys and stories of old. The pearl farm is spectacularly located at the foothills of the Jebel Jais mountains.

 

Suwaidi is endlessly proud that he is single-handedly working to revive this incredible, almost-extinct tradition. He has an intrinsic understanding of the pearl fishing industry and its importance in the Emirati culture. Many magical folkloric myths and legends surround these beautiful gemstones. Visitors can explore man’s history with the ocean and the pearls and how Ras Al Khaimah is fondly referred to as ‘the pearl of the Emirates’.

 

Suwaidi Pearls Farm Tour

Visitors to Ras Al Khaimah can embark on a fascinating journey aboard a traditional pearl fishing boat. From the original fishing village in Al Rams, your tour will begin as your guide explains the importance of the shallow bay and its protective mangroves. He will impart courageous stories of the fishermen, the diving techniques that they once practised, and explore the various tools they used from the trader’s box ‘bish-takh-tah’. Next, you will discover the innovative scientific techniques used in modern-day pearl farming and explore The Suwaidi Pearl farmhouse, located on the floating pontoon. Finally, visitors can open their oysters and see if they hit the jackpot and find their very own Arabian pearl to take home and treasure. The gift shop is home to an exquisitely curated collection of some of the most delicate pearls from Ras Al Khaimah.

 

Suwaidi Pearls Farm practices an environmentally friendly system to protect the marine environment. The farm is basic, simple, authentic, and powered by solar panels. Please remember that you are visiting a local area, so dress appropriately and wear sunscreen at all times.

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