BEIRUT: Over the years, Medina Publishing has established a reputation for its quality books about the Arabian Peninsula and a recent publication sheds light on one of the lesser-known emirates, Ras Al-Khaimah.
The cover photograph of “People of Ras Al-Khaimah,” featuring three elderly women wearing the burqa, a mask covering the eyebrows, part of the nose and the lips, sets the tone of this book.
Author Anna Zacharias tells us the story of Ras Al-Khaimah “in the words of its people” with an impressive series of portraits highlighting the smooth integration between the immigrant population, the Emiratis and their rulers.
The “Gulf culture is neither static nor at risk” and there “is also evidence of the continual cultural adaptation,” writes the Canadian author.
Ali Rashed, a camel-race commentator is a good example. Pragmatic and versatile, he quickly understood the potential of the VHS technology during the late 1970s and 1980s. He opened a video shop, bought a camera and was the only one with the right to make videos.
Nowadays people can watch a race on their phone. “Culture and modernity are easily reconciled,” writes Zacharias.
The coffee table book features photographs of more than 50 people who live in the state, including Emiratis and foreign expats from both urbanized areas and the surrounding villages.
Unlike Dubai, the dazzling city with the biggest, the tallest and the most expensive, Ras Al-Khaimah stands at a crossroads between modernity and tradition and this book has captured that elusive moment in time with its engaging interviews, sleepy anecdotes of a bygone era and sun-drenched photography.
American photojournalist Jeff Topping, and Zacharias worked together to produce the book, which charts the state’s history and explores its diverse landscape — a patchwork of inviting beaches, sprawling lagoons, mangrove forests, slithering sand dunes, date palms oases and craggy mountains.
The book was launched with the support of the Ras Al-Khaimah Media Office and should not be used as a historical guide to the emirate, but rather a fascinating and visually appealing collection of amusing stories and gorgeous images from a little-explored corner of the UAE.