Driving to Ras al Khaimah

I DROVE up to Ras al Khaimah (which means ‘head of the tent’ in Arabic, which refers to its position at the top of the UAE map) on Sunday with my colleague Rym to hand out invitations to various sheikhs and sheikhas to attend the launch of our new newspaper The National on Wednesday (April 16) in Abu Dhabi.

Enroute we stopped in Dubai to give an invitation to a sheikh from the ruling family of Ajman. A real joker, in a good sense, this sheikh is actively involved in programs that mentor young Emiratis to help them get jobs and develop their professional skills. I dubbed him the “New Age” sheikh because of his interest in various theories that he has studied about human behavior.

Later, continuing our journey to RAK, getting to Emirates Road from Sheikh Zayed road was a problem. We practically had to drive past Jebel Ali (in the opposite direction of RAK) until we found an exit to a road that led to Emirates Road. Once on that road we hit a lot of traffic in Sharjah, and found that driving around the many roundabouts was both dangerous and scary because of all of the 18-wheeler trucks that were hurtling alongside us! Luckily we survived, in part I’m convinced because of the stop lights that have been installed at all of the roundabouts.

In RAK I met a young sheikha who is forging a career for herself as a jewelry designer. Friendly, intelligent, articulate and most importantly down-to-earth, she impressed me with her willingness to take risks for her own development. Her latest collection has been bought by the Al-Sawani Group of Saudi Arabia, so I’m sure she has a bright future ahead of her.

I also met the head of police of RAK, Sheikh Taleb bin Saqr al Qassimi, who was very friendly and had a good sense of humor.

Driving for so many hours meant that Rym and I were frequently looking for gasoline stations to refuel, use the restrooms and buy some coffee. One annoying thing that both of us noticed on Emirates Roads were two new gasoline stations that were not opened yet and endless signs that warned of no fuel stations for miles to come. Both times we got excited at seeing the two stations coming up, and I would move into the right hand lane only to be disappointed to see the access roads to the stations still blocked and plastic covering the petrol pumps.

I must say that the ADNOC stations look the nicest and had reasonably good coffee. I just hope that more gasoline stations are going to be built along Emirates Road, as that route certainly needs them.