Ras al Khaimah, the last of Emirates

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We conclude our week in the United Arab Emirates by talking to you about Ras al Khaimah, the last to join the newborn state.

Ras al Khaimah and Sharjah, lords of the Persian Gulf

Like the other countries of the United Arab Emirates, Ras al Khaimah was inhabited starting from the 3rd millennium BC, with the inhabitants who dedicated themselves mainly to the pearl trade and navigation. A famous example of this is undoubtedly to be found in the legendary navigator ibn Majid of the 15th century, who was a native of these places.

Ras al Khaimah

As for the emirate of Sharjah, however, its fortune is due to the al Qasimi who, starting from the 18th century, became prominent figures, so much so as to become the undisputed masters of the area and favoring its naval development.

Punitive expeditions

As already said yesterday, this dynasty aimed above all to extend its influence also on the Persian coasts and of present-day Pakistan, bringing great tensions in the region which will then result in an armed intervention by the British. The al Qasimi win, in particular, some ports and islands, provoking a very heated protest from the Sultan of Oman, who has always been their bitter rival.

Ras al Khaimah

The latter, united with Persia and India, put a lot of pressure on the British to restore “the natural order of things”, bringing, at the turn of 1809 and 1819, a real revolution in the balance of power in ‘ area. The first campaign completely destroyed the military forces of the family, although it was not followed by any type of treaty, but gave a very strong signal to the whole region. However, it will be the second, dated 1819, to definitively subdue the population, prompting them to sign a treaty in which the latter undertook to keep the peace in the area, especially in view of British boats.

A question left open

The treaty will place, de facto, the current United Arab Emirates under the Albion orbit, creating no small difficulty in highlighting the real borders of each nation. Under a single flag, in fact, it was almost irrelevant to establish who this or that island belonged to, freezing for a long time a problem that still exists today. In fact, it was never clarified who belonged to the Tunb islands and that of Abu Musa, territories colonized in the 16th century by the Portuguese and since then coveted by both the Arabs and the Persians.

Ras al Khaimah
Ras al Khaimah

A few days before the definitive end of the Truce States, Iran sent its navy to occupy the islands, a measure that infuriated the then Emir of Ras al Khaimah, Saqr bin Muhammad al Qasimi. The latter refused to be part of the newly formed nation until 1972, the year in which he was promised an intervention by Abu Dhabi to resolve the issue, which is still pending today due to the difficult balance of power between the two countries.

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