Monday, June 17, 2024 | Dhu al-hijjah 10, 1445 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

An exciting prospect maybe, just down the road?

Ray Petersen
Ray Petersen
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I have seen the future! I said to my wife, feeling the heady euphoria of exaltation as if I had been reborn. But no, the gears had just fallen into place for me, and I can see the next real tourism location is… wait for it… Ras al Hadd! No, I’ve not gone loopy, I’ve gone visionary, because you see I can identify parallels with one of the most successful tourist hotspots in the world, Queenstown, in NZ, once a quaint little family vacation spot with one road in and one road out, that would get busy during the winter when the winter snows came, and skiers would flock to town


for the powdery snows of the nearby Coronet Peak.


Queenstown was the epitome of a small town for many years, serviced by a road from the South which ran around the shores of Lake Wakatipu, it wasn’t a very good road, and became known as ‘The Devil’s Staircase,’ as it took you on a roller coaster ride, twisting and turning, with sheer drops on the lake side, and unforgiving rock faces on the other. On a scary-meter it rated a good 9.5, and required nerves of steel.


The secondary route was that which absorbed the traffic from the West Coast, Christchurch and Dunedin, which got a bit of traffic, but mainly buses which was the most common mode of transport. It was a dusty old drive on the mainly gravel roads, well-rutted, and with heaps of windscreen-smashing stone


chips flying. Not so scary, but challenging in its own way.


Another road in was across the Crown Range, which was mostly gravel. But it looked a good short-cut and a fairly easy drive on the map, the realities only emerging when one started the journey. The main issue wasn’t with the twists and turns, but the fact that it was really only one vehicle wide, and passing someone coming the other way was a matter for genuine negotiation, leaving that too as a 9.5. Anyway, over the years Queenstown started marketing its ‘Kingston Flyer,’ vintage train, its ‘Earnslaw,’ vintage steamboat, built a gondola from the centre of town to the top of Coronet Peak, which opened up more skiing, then came the Jet Boat rides on the Arrow River, AJ Hackett invented Bungy-Jumping from the Arrow Bridge, and then the ‘coup-de-grace,’ Peter Jackson filmed most of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the region. Queenstown had hit all the cherries in the jackpot! It is now even home to an international airport.


Yet, even with all this, a long-serving community member observed to me one day that, “All we have we got most of this through hard work, vision, and entrepreneurship. However what people really want, is evident if you look at how and where the most expensive homes and hotels are built, facing the lake.” He continued saying seas and lakes have always fascinated us, they reflect what’s above and around them, soothe us, offer tranquility even in a storm, and are always changing.


Which brings me to Ras al Hadd, there is plenty of land, plenty of sea, plenty of scope for aquatic water sports and activities, a wonderful coastline with an amazing long beach to rival many of the best, and it’s only a ‘hop and a skip’ to see the turtles at Ras al Jinz. I’m guessing the land isn’t too expensive, and it’s only three hours from the capital.


Build a Marina for boaties and recreational fishermen, the lagoons are perfect not only for windsurfing, kite-surfing, stand-up boarding, but as a ‘schoolyard,’ for aquatics. Rowing, kayaking, yachting could all have full sized racecourses in the big lagoon, and the possibilities all in all are absolutely endless. Just one more thing! How about low cost, small villas and apartments for expat purchase as holiday, second homes? I’ll bet they will sell like ‘hot cakes!’ I’ld buy one!


And as Kevin Costner’s character said, in ‘Field of Dreams,’ “Build it, and they will come.”


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