Ara­bian NIGHTS

The glitz and grid­lock of Dubai sends Frances Hib­bard scur­ry­ing in search of quiet at Ras al-Khaimah, the lit­tle emi­rate that could.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Life -

as the shad­ows grow longer and the st­ing fi­nally goes out of the sun here at this ar­rest­ing place at the base of the Al Ha­j­jar Moun­tains, in the north­ern­most United Arab Emi­rate of Ras al-Khaimah. A herd of grace­ful Ara­bian oryx, em­bold­ened by the on­set of evening and new­found fresh­ness in the air, stalk their way down to the re­sort’s wa­ter­ing hole. Up on the grassy fal­conry deck, the leather hoods used to soothe, rather than se­date, the re­treat’s res­i­dent birds of prey are re­moved in readi­ness for their late-af­ter­noon flights of fancy. Equally dozy guests emerge from af­ter­noon slum­bers or yet another plunge into their pri­vate pools (they shim­mer, too) to watch th­ese preda­tory crea­tures per­form for the gath­ered dig­i­tal cam­eras, lured by the prom­ise of raw meat and a safe land­ing spot atop a leather glove.

First-time visi­tors emerg­ing from the glossy new A380-ded­i­cated ter­mi­nal at Dubai air­port to a spec­ta­cle of height and light would be for­given for as­sum­ing the UAE was all traf­fic snarls and build­ing sites. But that’s only one chap­ter in its everun­fold­ing story. In truth, it’s lit­tle more than 50 years since oil was first ex­ported from the re­gion and less than a cen­tury since Be­douins moved in from the desert to take up a res­i­dence along Dubai Creek, be­gin­ning the dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion of this trad­ing port into a mod­ern mega-city.

Even so, cos­seted away out here in a na­ture re­serve dot­ted not just with wildlife but also dis­creet tented dwellings and re­gal­look­ing watch­tow­ers, such moder­nity – how­ever re­cent a de­vel­op­ment – seems far

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