WAM 200129 RAK5-1580307801585
Valleys, dams and mountains and a green carpet covering the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah have turned the region into a beautiful oasis. Image Credit: WAM

Ras Al Khaimah: Valleys, full dams, mountains and a green carpet covering the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah have turned the region into a beautiful oasis.

Starting at Wadi Shawka or Shawka valley, where you can feel a cold breeze, you walk past fragrant palm trees, flowers and plants.

Wadi Shawka showcases the beauty of nature through its charming environment, mountains and gardens, as well as the plants that decorate the summit of Al Sahab, which allows adventurers to hike up the mountain while enjoying nature.

From the summit of Yanas Mountain, you can see the old houses of the ancestors of the Emirati people, which tell visitors the story of their lives full of patience, wisdom and determination.

Wadi Al Beeh, which has been settled in by people in 1982, is located at the entrance of Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE.

WAM 200129 RAK64-1580307811639
An oryx is spotted in the lush RAK landscape Image Credit: WAM

Rich system

Valleys and dams create a naturally rich ecological system, as they supply nearby farms with water throughout the year and during drought. They are also important to tourism, enabling residents and tourists to camp and enjoy nature.

Valleys and dams in Ras Al Khaimah have become attractions for tourists seeking to enjoy nature and provide a sustainable water source by collecting rainwater used for agriculture.

WAM 200129 RAK455-1580307797082
An usually wet winter has led to scenes like this, more synonymous with Salalah in Kareef season than RAK in January Image Credit: WAM

Heavy rains

Ras Al Khaimah has 31 dams with a total storage capacity of 26.2 million square metres of water. These dams collected large quantities of rainwater on January 11 and 12, amounting to 23.33 million square metres.

A 62-year old resident, Ahmad Al Mazrouei from the village of Adhen, expresses his happiness at the recent rains witnessed by the emirate, noting its positive effects on people’s lives and plants and trees, as well as the increased level of water in dams.

He described the large amount of water flowing through Al Ghail Falls as a blessing, adding that the area has not seen this level of rain for over 30 years.

Dr Marina Tsaliki, Plant Conservation and Research Specialist at Public Works and Services Department, Government of Ras Al Khaimah, says that rainfall in many areas of the emirate has contributed to an increase in its variety of plants, including common and rare species.

WAM 200129 RAK33-1580307792820
Clouds continue to blow over during these cool and fresh winter's days Image Credit: WAM

Greener pastures

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency, WAM, Tsaliki says that Ras Al Khaimah’s flora abounds with many different types of plants, numbering over 320 species, which is increasing annually. She adds that the emirate accounts for some 50 per cent of the total number of native plants in the country, amounting to more than 650 species.

Tsaliki also notes that the emirate is currently witnessing climate conditions that help flora flourish and grow, adding that green spaces have appeared around the emirate due to rainfall.

WAM 200129 RAK5455-1580307805029
Grazing oryx have plenty to chew on as they feast out on the dunes Image Credit: WAM

New species

She points out that through her fieldwork in over 270 separate locations in the emirate, she expects the emergence of new species of plants in different areas and environments, in light of the expansion of green areas in many regions, especially in dry desert areas where flowers are not normally expected to grow.

Tsaliki stresses that rainwater is very useful and has positive implications on the sustainability of local flora. It leads to the appearance of new species of plants and also helps protect flora and their life cycles, as well as animals and other organisms that feed on plants.

WAM 200129 RAK77-1580307818042
Lush scenes have prompted visitors to flock to RAK to catch a glimpse of the greenery Image Credit: WAM

Eco tourism

Regarding the possibility of organising tourism tours in areas with diverse plant life to introduce visitors to the emirate’s native plants, she says they are currently investing in education and training courses and are in the process of developing related programmes while highlighting the difference between different plant species for tourists and visitors interested in flora and nature.

She adds that the Ras Al Khaimah Museum features a selection of native plants at its front yard with labels explaining their names and uses, with some even having specific medical uses.

Sustainable upkeep

Regarding the possibility of using these plants in landscaping and gardening, Tsaliki says: “Our plan consists of presenting a significant number of various plants for landscaping and gardening, to encourage the use of native plants that are easier to sustain than imported ones, which require more water, care and maintenance.”

WAM 200129 RAK223-1580307788566
A lone ghaf surrounded by the sprouting greenery of a RAK meadow Image Credit: WAM

Raising awareness

Tsaliki emphasises the importance of raising public awareness of native and imported plants, noting that related efforts are being taken, which is reflected by the emergence of native plants and the control of imported plants.

“We already have a nursery and we are working on expanding it to protect native plans from any future changes,” she says.