Built by three local tribes and ruled by the Al Zaab tribe in the 14th century, Al Jazirah Al Hamra was originally inhabited by around two hundred fishermen and pearl divers. Its name literally means ” The Red Island”, as back then it stood on a piece of land which was also a tidal island. Nevertheless, this settlement gradually grew in its size, reaching almost two thousand people by the 20th century.
Then, something happened. Some of the neighboring locals argue whether it was caused by conflict within the local tribes or a promise of better life. Others say that supernatural forces appeared in these lands. Nevertheless – at some point in the sixties (in 1968, to be precise), the villagers abandoned Al Jazirah Al Hamra, moving to the coast of Abu Dhabi.
Today, the village is more commonly called The Ghost Town. Numerous structures made of coral and mud are being slowly destroyed by sand, winds, sun and occasional rains. Pieces of furniture and other personal belongings can still be found there, abandoned and forgotten. The whole area is completely empty, and it is understandable why neighboring residents consider it to be haunted.
Al Jazirah Al Hamra is an attractive destination for adventure seekers. Numerous traditional fishing houses, a mosque, a dilapidated fort and old watchtowers are well preserved and frozen in time, creating some great scenery and setting. In 2018, it was partly used in the production of Portions of 6 Underground for Netflix. Director Michael Bay said about the place:
“We shot in Al Hamra – an ancient ghost city they called it – that we played for Afghanistan. And literally right around the corner we played another part for Nigeria… It’s very versatile to have a place where literally like five minutes away it’s like a different country”.
Al Jazirah Al Hamra is a well-preserved snapshot of what everyday life was like before the formation of UAE. The government of Ras Al Khaimah, as well as local volunteers, are taking measures to turn this area into a major cultural and historic site, with construction of new hotels and attractions taking place. Nevertheless, the story of The Red Island and its stories of ghosts will surely remain for the years to come.