Inside the ghost town that is attracting hunters of the supernatural

An abandoned town built with coral has found new life among hunters of the supernatural, history buffs and filmmakers.

Al Jazirah Al Hamra is a small town south of Ras Al Khaimah, a city in the United Arab Emirates overlooking the Persian Gulf.

Believed to have been founded in the 1600s, Al Jazirah Al Hamra made a name for its naval fleet dedicated to fishing, pearling, and the linked trades.

Over the decades, hundreds of buildings – including a fort, three schools, mosques and an open market – were built using, among other materials, fossilised beach rock quarried along the coast and sun-baked corals.

The latter porous material was ideal to withstand the harsh wind blowing on the coast as well as providing insulation from the heat.

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The link to the sea this town had was so strong many of the homes were decorated with architectural elements reminding the sky and the same stars helping fishermen navigate their way home.

While in the late 1920s the pearling industry collapsed due to the commercialisation of cultured pearls, locals remained in Al Jazirah Al Hamra for a few more decades, switching to ocean trading, boat building and deep sea fishing.

In the late 1960s, however, the town was abandoned after most of the residents accepted an offer from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to move to Abu Dhabi as the oil extraction industry was gearing up.

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The empty buildings were left behind, but managed to survive the urbanisation experienced in the UAE during the last century and today stand as a testimony of the architecture in the Gulf area before the beginning of the oil extraction era.

Speaking about the uniqueness of this ghost town, Unesco wrote: “The last remaining traditional coastal town in the Gulf comprising narrow alleys, mosques, fort, watchtowers, and a suq set between the thousands of years old heritage of courtyard houses.”

But it isn’t just the architecture and the history behind Al Jazirah Al Hamra to attract the attention of tourists.

Legend has it the town is haunted – not by ghosts but by jinns, or genies, which are creatures that, according to Islamic belief, form a world separate from mankind and are capable of causing harm to humans.

As a consequence, reports of the town being haunted have attracted many interested in the supernatural.

Moreover, the town has also served as background to filmmakers – including Hollywood director Micheal Bay, who in 2018 filmed portions of the action film 6 Undeground in Al Jazirah Al Hamra.

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