Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

Ras Al Khaimah restores Al Jazirah Al Hamra historic watchtower

The edifice was used to secure a maritime village home renowned for its fish, pearl diving and boat building trades

Ras Al Khaima’s Al Jazirah Al Hamra watchtower is restored. Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office
Ras Al Khaima’s Al Jazirah Al Hamra watchtower is restored. Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office

A historic Ras Al Khaimah monument is back to its former glory.

The century-old Al Jazirah Al Hamra watchtower has retained its commanding presence, with its restoration announced by the local government.

Located on the mainland, the 11.9-metre edifice, constructed out of coral, beach stone, mangrove beans and palm fronds, was a security measure to protect the nearby island, Al Jazirah Al Hamrah. The island was home to a 100-year-old maritime village renowned for fishing, pearl diving and boat building.

The watchtower was a security measure to protect the nearby island, Al Jazirah Al Hamrah. Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office
The watchtower was a security measure to protect the nearby island, Al Jazirah Al Hamrah. Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office

With the advent of civil development in the 1950’s, the tower’s role was gradually reduced. It was eventually rendered obsolete once the island was connected the emirate’s mainland in the 1970’s

The last few years saw parts of the tower’s roof collapsing and its stonework falling into disrepair.

A four-week restoration project was underway in April to rehabilitate the tower.

And how was it done?

The restoration used locally sourced material and traditional building methods, according to Ahmed Hilal, director of archaeology for the emirate’s department of antiquities and museums.

“The traditional technique of wall-building leaves voids and gaps in the structure. The tower was built using the same technique, which is one of the reasons for its partial collapse,” he said in a statement. “No chemicals or modern materials were used in the repairs to reflect the original process and maintain the tower’s historical integrity…We have also tried to avoid material containing salt, which is a major problem in many structures because it can cause corrosion.”

Ras Al Khaima’s Al Jazirah Al Hamra was restored using locally sourced material and traditional building methods. Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office
Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Jazirah Al Hamra was restored using locally sourced material and traditional building methods. Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office

With plans already underway to have the tower open to tourists in the near future, it marks the rejuvenation of Ras Al Khaimah’s latest traditional landmark.

The restoration is part of a wider government strategy to document traditional buildings across the emirates, with more than 1,600 structures already recorded.

The Al Jazirah Al Hamra tower is one of 75 similar structures, with many historically used for defensive fortifications or civilian use.

Once all the information is collated, the department of antiquities and museums will then create an expansive digital database showcasing Ras Al Khaimah’s rich and varied architectural wonders.

For more information on the program visit www.rakheritage.rak.ae.

Updated: July 4, 2020 03:06 PM

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