Jazirat al Hamra, which translates to Red Island, has a reputation for being haunted. Established sometime in the 14th century, the once thriving fishing and pearl-diving village of over 300 houses and 13 mosques was suddenly abandoned in 1968. And since then, while the rest of the United Arab Emirates has marched to the drums of progress, this little corner of Ras al Khaimah has remained unchanged, protected from modernity, embalmed in myth and mystery.
If stories circulating on the local grapevine are to be believed, the village of Jazirat al Hamra is a hotbed of djinn activity. Tales of strange noises, chilling wails, and unexplained apparitions are shared in huddled whispers around majlises and campfires across the country. May be this is a reason why most Emiratis and expats tend to stay away from the place. Especially at night. So intrigued by the these stories my friends and I decided that we should go there and do a bit of ghost hunting.
We reached there by 2.30 am. Most of my friends were spooked and unwilling to enter the village, but I convinced them to come along and told them that they could sit in the car while we explored the place. We were about 12 people in 3 cars: 2 SUVs and 1 sedan. We decided to leave the sedan outside near the main road in case the road is bad and the car gets stuck somewhere in the village. So we cramped into the 2 SUVs and entered the village. We found the very thing we were looking for.
I couldn't have mistaken the sheer neglect and the complete seclusion of the place. The crumbling walls of the once lived-in homes, the narrow, sandy alleys that meandered around the village. The walls of the derelict village were made up of shells and corals and sands were a peculiar red. It was very quiet, except for the sea crashing against the shore.
The village is a maze of narrow streets and narrower alleyways, covered in a thick layer of sand, punctuated by mounds of ruble and prickly overgrown bushes. The place was truly very creepy. The alleys are so narrow that when you look out of the car window you are faced with the dark black interior of one of the abandoned house.
We reached a large clearing in the middle of the village where we decided to get out of the cars and snap some pictures of the old houses. We were entering houses together and taking pictures. It was funny to see how nobody wanted to be left alone. Even the ones that didn't want to get out of the car came cause they didn't want to be left alone in the car.
Few of my friends decided to get their picture taken in front of the old fort. The camera was a digi-cam and when she clicked the picture, she showed us that there was what seemed like a shadow holding my friend around his waist with the head on my friend's chest. We were freaked and tried to click a few more pictures of the same scene, trying to get that image to show up. Well nothing came up in the other pictures. There were no lights or lamps in the village and the only light that came was from the moon and the camera flash, so we didn't know what to make of the picture.
Anyway we continued to explore the houses around the village. The atmosphere around that place was most unwelcoming. While exploring we came up on a house, which we entered and each and 5 of my friends and myself had the same reaction. We felt like we were punched in the gut and had the urge to throw-up. We ran out of the place as we could see shadows emerging from nowhere and thought that this was enough of ghost hunting for the day. We got in the car and everyone was still complaining about having the worst stomachache ever. We raced out of the village and came upon the main road when we started feeling a bit better.
We drove away thinking that was one of the experiences that we would not forget easily.