x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Caves of wonders

Leading cave scientists in Ras al Khaimah mountains to separate fact from fiction.

A tourist hiking in the mountain caves of Ras Al Khaimah in 2009 snaps a photo of a goblin seconds before it attacks and kills him. The police later find his body, and after developing the film, discover the stunning image.

The story was obviously a hoax, but it caused a minor controversy nonetheless, with British tourism officials claiming that the goblin's home was really a grotto at the ancient Cheddar Caves and Gorge in Somerset, England.

But as The National reports today, some of the world's leading cave scientists are deadly serious about discovering a fabled cave near the Oman border. The explorers have joined Dr Asma al Ketbi, the head of the Emirates Geology Association and a geography professor at UAE University, in the hopes of finding what she calls her "dream cave" in Ras al Khaimah.

For centuries, residents of the northern region have told stories of evil spirits, the supernatural creatures that Arab folklore commonly refers to as jinn. And unlike the goblin, many believe these creatures still exist, with their screeches often heard in the night.

Dr al Kebti has invited the world's top cavers to separate myth from fact and discover what the noises are really about. The public is encouraged to get involved too, with a reward of Dh10,000 to anyone finding a cave with a depth of 50 metres or more. Or, of course, should they snap a photo of the dreaded jinn.