Visit the Suwaidi Pearls Farm in Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah, in the United Arab Emirates, has lots of interesting and cultural activities for the discerning visitor. Although compact, the country offers everything from riding the highest zip-line in the world, to hiking in the Hajar mountains, to swimming in the stunning turquoise waters or relaxing on beaches with silver sands. However, one of the most interesting things I did on a recent trip, was to visit the Suwaidi Pearl Farm in Ras Al Khaimah.
Ras Al Khaimah’s history of pearl fishing goes back over 7,000 years. In the 12th century, during the Middle Ages, they had a flourishing pearl industry and the city became one of the busiest trading ports in the region. Today, the tradition of pearl fishing is celebrated by Abdulla Al Suwaidi, who opened the Suwaidi Pearls Farm in honour of his late grandfather Mohammed.
Pearl fishing is very much cherished in the UAE. In the past, men from entire communities would dive for exotic pearls, using turtle shell nose clips and wax in their ears, consuming sweet dates and limited amounts of water. Each man had a specific responsibility to ensure the safety of the boat and the smooth running of the community. Outsiders were strictly forbidden unless they had the approval of a local ruler.
Suwaidi Pearls Farm, is located in Al Rams, in Ras Al Khaimah at the foothills of the Jebel Jais mountains. We took a ride on a traditional pearl fishing boat to the pearl farm to learn all about this almost-extinct tradition belonging to the Emirati culture.
Our guide told us all about the different types of pearl, how pearls are created in the first place and about the history of pearl diving. He explained how the crew of between 30 and 50 locals went out to sea in one boat for four months at a time in search of pearls. Making between 50 and 100 dives a day in search of elusive pearls – their hit rate was around one pearl per hundred dives. This was indeed a tough way to make a living, although the pearls were highly prized once they had been caught.
Through their endeavours in pearl fishing, Ras Al Khaimah’s earned the nickname of the “pearl of the Emirates” and Abdulla Al Suwaidi takes pride in reviving this heritage with the Suwaidi Pearls Farm.
The tour explains the importance of shallow bays and mangroves, the traditional diving techniques, and the tools used in pearl trading on a floating pontoon. The tour ends as you watch an oyster being opened to see if it has an Arabian pearl inside!
There is also a gift shop where you have the opportunity to buy one of the exquisite pearls from Ras Al Khaimah.
Suwaidi Pearls Farm use environmentally friendly methods to protect the marine environment and their farm is solar-powered. It’s a really unique experience and a great way to spend an afternoon.
Tips for the trip: wear sunscreen and comfortable sandals or shoes and dress appropriately / modestly. It can get windy and the sun can be strong on the pontoon.
Suwaidi Pearls Farm Ras Al Khaimah UAE
Address: Al Rams – Ras al Khaimah – United Arab Emirates