Even though the United Arab Emirates has many historic forts, Dhayah Fort in Ras Al Khaimah is the only hilltop, fortified castle that’s located up in the mountains. When the Al Qawasim tribe was battling the British in the early 19th century, this isolated fort in the northern emirate was the last holdout before eventually falling in December 1819. More recently it housed the royal family until 1964, and after a very short period as a local prison, was opened to the general public as a place to celebrate Emirati history. With its tall, strong, fortified walls, the Dhayah Fort was specifically built for warding off invaders, though travelers today are welcome to climb to the top and enjoy the view. There aren’t really any artifacts on display—just a brief history of the fort—and the jewelry and artifacts that have been uncovered are displayed inside of the National Museum. If you visit as part of a full-day tour of Ras Al Khaimah emirate, your local guide will relay the battles and history behind the fort, and provide a lot more color to the visit—as if the walls could talk.
Insider's Tip: The Dhayah Fort can be a little hard to find and blends in with the desert surroundings. It’s best to visit with a guided tour, or if traveling on your own, follow the signs for Dhayah guest house, which is located across the street.
Dhayah Fort is located 8.5 miles and 15 minutes northeast of Ras Al Kaimah. Reaching the top requires climbing up over 220 steps, so it’s best to avoid the heat of the day—especially when visiting in summer.