The grand opening of the eighth annual Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival takes place tonight in an abandoned pearling village. The festival runs for two months and is less than an hour's drive from Dubai. Running until Saturday, March 31, attendance to the festival is free. The full schedule of events can be found on rakfinearts.ae . The festival runs until March 31.
Here are four things to know...
It takes place in an abandoned pearling village
Art lovers can stroll through the ancient maritime town of Jazirah Al Hamra to view artwork either exhibited in winding alleyways or in in the homes of pearl divers and merchants. The village is the traditional home of the Za’ab tribe, who used more than 12 million pieces of coral to construct the mosques, homes and shops until the practice was abandoned from the late 1960s.
The settlement has about 500 buildings and is the region’s best example of a coastal pre-oil village, displaying three distinct types of early- and mid-20th century Gulf architecture. The eerie location has inspired its share of local films, literature and lore.
There are 49 films playing every Wednesday night
Four sets of regional short films will be screened on Wednesday evenings throughout February and March at VOX cinema in Al Hamra Mall from 7 to 8pm. The films hail from the UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. This year’s film grant recipient was the Emirati filmmaker Hamad Abdullah Saghran, who will present his documentary And What’s Next? a look at retirement in the Emirati community.
Award winning arctic photographer Kiliii Yuyan presents on Saturday
The award-winning photographer and National Geographic contributor will give a talk from 1 to 4pm on Saturday, February 1, at the Jazirah Al Hamra. Yuyan’s work strives to subvert the colonial narrative of the Arctic and documents the community ties to the land. His exhibition at The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah features images from his series The People of the Whale, which captures the whaling traditions of the Inupiaq people in Alaska, and The Women of the Iditarod, which shows female dog-sledders as they prepare for a 1,000-mile race across Alaska.
You can take free tours of two historic towns
If wandering the coral stone alleyways of Jazirah Al Hamra makes you curious about the daring escapades of the sailors and pearlers who called Ras Al Khaimah home, then you’re in luck. Learn more about Ras Al Khaimah’s incredible history on free tours of two historic towns. There are four walking tours of Al Jazirah Al Hamra, a coastal settlement that had one of the mightiest pearling fleets on the Arabian Gulf coast. The emirate's modern history will be explored on a food walk through Ras Al Khaimah's creek-side quarter led by The National’s Anna Zacharias.
Jazirat Al Hamra tours take place on Friday afternoons on February 7 to 21 and March 6 and 27, from 4 to 6pm. Old town food walks will take place Saturdays evenings on February 22 and 29 from 5 to 8pm. Reservations can be made through the RAK Fine Arts Festival app or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org