x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Memories of the perfect sandcastle

Al Rams beach was my introduction to life at sea in RAK. When I moved to the UAE as a lost 13-year-old far from home, my mother knew that a day at a beach would help.

Al Rams beach was my introduction to life at sea in RAK. When I moved to the UAE as a lost 13-year-old far from home, my mother knew that a day at a beach would help. We followed the stark brown mountains up the coast to the town of Al Rams. We bumped our way past the hunchbacked cows of the village until we reached a rusted iron bridge that led to Rams beach. The bridge did not look like it could support a goat, let alone a 4x4. It had a two-foot-wide hole in the middle. Crossing felt like a rite of passage: if you or your mother was brave enough to navigate the chasm, you deserved the paradise of Rams beach.

The beach offered miles of white sand and a sea that seemed to stretch to forever under the nearby mountains. The rock jetties had all the colour that was missing from the bleached summer sky and desert landscape. The greens, purples, blues and yellow were waiting for me underwater, painted on fish and coral and crabs. I discovered the pleasures of beach life. I watched the fishermen pull in their nets and try unsuccessfully to ride turtles out to sea. I spent hours sculpting the perfect sandcastle.

I stopped going to Al Rams a few years ago when a fence was erected to build a coastguard station. After construction the sandbar was reopened to the public, with an improved bridge. I returned to the beach this week with my mother for the first time in almost 10 years. I was heart-broken to see the pollution. My mother, ever the optimist, was delighted. She did not notice the rubbish as much as the people. Families were cruising in their 4x4s and men were jogging on the shoreline.

Once again, she had found the beauty of the UAE. Though it is covered in rubbish at the moment, I know that the people of Al Rams return to the beach because they see its beauty too. @Email:azacharias@thenational.ae