From Doha to Ras Al Khaimah ……

This is part of my trip report on my Middle East visit last week.  I have already looked at the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4 and Qatar Airways A380 Business Class.

This article is not so much a report, more like joining a few dots before the main story continues tomorrow ….

You will remember that I was in Hamad International Airport in Doha after arriving from London:


I headed up to the Al Mourjan Business Lounge.  This is an excellent facility but, as I reviewed it in depth 16 months ago, I won’t repeat myself.

It remains a very impressive, although overtly large, lounge with excellent food and drink.  They seem to have stopped serving Krug now, however.

Al Mourjan lounge

The connection time to my Ras al-Khaimah flight was short.  I was upgraded to First Class at the gate (this had been pre-arranged with Qatar as part of my press ticket, subject to availability).  It turned out that I was the only person in First Class:

Qatar Regional First

I did a full review of Qatar Airways regional First Class just before Christmas so I won’t repeat myself.  This time the meal, for what was the equivalent of a London to Paris flight, was the prawn dish below.

Qatar Regional First Food

At Ras al-Khaimah we were bussed to the terminal.  One bus turned up – possibly the only bus they have!  The crew had closed the curtains between First and Economy. I disembarked the aircraft, got onto the bus, and off it went on the 100 metre trip to the terminal.  It dropped me off and drove back to the plane to collect the other 30 or so passengers ….

Visiting Ras al-Khaimah airport is not like visiting Dubai International, Abu Dhabi or Hamad International.  It is like visiting London City Airport circa 1985 When you were in Hamad International – one of the longest free-standing buildings in the world – 45 minutes earlier, you can’t help but feel a little strange.  It felt like arriving in the Caribbean.

Ras Al Khaimah airport

With only a handful of flights per day, the immigration staff were not busy.  I was through in record time (I could have walked through the terminal in 20 seconds were it not for the immigration desks) and into a taxi for the £12 ride to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

I first visited Dubai in 1997 when I was working on the financing of a chemical plant at Jebel Ali.  At that time, there was a long stretch of desert between the city and Jebel Ali, a gap which no longer exists.  This is what Dubai was like in the late 1990’s:

Dubai 1997

This is, to be honest, what I expected to see as I drove through Ras al-Khaimah.  In truth, this is probably a picture of what Ras will be like in 10 years time.  It is, today, a very low rise city and the drive reminded me of driving holidays in small-town USA from my youth.

To be continued ….

Bits: 30% off and double Virgin miles with East Coast trains, new Singapore flights to Oz & NZ, Best Western sale
My review of Qatar Airways impressive A380 business class
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  1. Ronster says:

    Qatar Airlines expansion plans continue:-

    This will include whats set to be world’s longest non-stop route, Doha – Auckland.

    Interesting add-ons include flights from Doha to the South of France (Nice) and Tuscany (Pisa).

    Now all we need is QR to add ‘fifth freedom’ flights from the UK to either of the above,(NCE or PSA)?

  2. Richard Brown says:

    I worked in RAK in 1983 and in the main, time has stood still for it. The airport is more of a graveyard for old DC-8s and Tristars, RAK Air went bust and has not been replaced and the town is very different from the other major cities on the Emirates. There are some good modern resort hotels in the form of the new Waldorf Astoria and The newish Hilton Resort just to the north, though these are often filled with tourists who have had RAK marketed to them as being part of Dubai. The desert morphs into mountains, which whilst not quite as spectacular as Fujairah and The East Coast, make an interesting back drop and still some spectacular sea life. Worth a trip from Dubai just to see something different

  3. Does RAK “feel” safe in these testing times…….is would be suitable to take a family for winter sun that find Dubai abit blingy ?

    • If Jordan feels safe then RAK should feel like Disneyland.

    • Dubai is blingy. Ras is less blingy because there is nothing there!

      What you do get is Ras is a) cheap (I have a friend who has a corporate rate of £17 – yes £17 – per day at the Hilton resort next door to the Waldorf) and b) quiet as hotels are nowhere near as full.

      If you are happy to spend virtually all your holiday in the hotel (ie none of the shopping trips you’d do in Dubai, no skiing etc) then you’ll get an identical holiday to Dubai for less money.

  4. For the Arabic speakers among us can we call it Al Mourjan not the Al Mourjan? Also you forgot to rate the lounge on the important HFP matrix the Soulometer.

  5. Availability pretty wide open for anyone fancying a trip in Biz to NZ – even 4 seats on some flights! Being able to go EDI-DOH-AKL is pretty damn nice too for those of us from up North 😉

    • When are you looking? I’m not finding them. And how many Avios would it be?

      • Hmm should be from December onwards – however I wonder if they mistakenly listed lots of availability then pulled back!

        Cost – annoyingly difficult to work out now but I’d imagine 64,500 each way EDI-DOH, then 150,000 DOH-AKL (if similar cost to DOH-MEL) so a pretty eye-watering 429k+fees/taxes return in business – eek! I paid 100,000 Avios + £364 to fly QF First MEL-DXB-LHR-EDI!! (booked before the introduction of peak pricing on partner flights by BA last year). Also by comparison only 45k one-way Middle East to AKL with AA before 22nd March devaluation!

        • I was looking at Venice to DOH yesterday (it’ll take as long to fly to Venice from Southend as it will take me to get to LHR by train), and that was 75000 return, so Venice-DOH-AKL-DOH-Venice would be 375,000.

          Yeah, I’m never going to manage that! I’ll still be aiming to use a Lloyds updgrade voucher on the gold-dust LHR-SYD route, then hop to AKL from SYD.

          • Lots of good NZ options from Oz. Avios pricing is excellent with QF too (low taxes) so keep that in mind – I popped over to Wellington for the weekend from Melbourne 😀

            As mentioned elsewhere on the comments today collecting SQ miles is also a good option given their fairly reasonable availability (certainly better than BA)

            • I’d struggle to collect a worthwhile balance of SQ miles before they expired, since I’m not a frequent flyer and not a huge credit card spender.

  6. Is the tower building in the top right of your Dubai pic the old(?) Dubai World Trade Centre? If so then I spent 2 months in the long low one next door in the early 80s. Has it changed much? 😉

    • We would have been neighbours. We lived in the Toyota building directly under the A. My dad told my step-mother ‘one day this street will be really something’. :)

      • Howdy Neighbour! Who knows, we might have been playmates – I was 11 and also with Dad & step mum. Small world (and friendly one on HfP) :-)

  7. Aeronaut says:

    “Visiting Ras al-Khaimah airport is not like visiting Dubai International, Abu Dhabi or Hamad International. It is like visiting London City Airport circa 1985.”

    Or maybe not, given LCY didn’t open until 1987! 😉

  8. Just returned from a 4 night trip to one of the other Emirates – Ajman.
    Seems pretty similar in infrastructure to RAK – not much to do outside of the hotel. But if all you want is some attractively priced R&R in the sun then it pretty much ticks all the boxes. Stayed at the Fairmont Ajman which only opened last year – property was gleaming! Located 30 mins in the opposite direction of Dubai from DXB. Had the benefit of a comp shuttle to/from Dubai Mall operating daily. Room rate booked on the Fairmont website for a tad over £80 per night for a 49m2 room with balcony overlooking the ocean – when the Fairmont on Palm Jumeirah wanted 5x this amount. 500 avios bonus for exec club members per stay and comp high speed wifi when you join Fairmont Presidents Club which saves another £10 per day. I’m interested in giving WA RAK a go – have stayed on the one on The Palm Jumeirah before.