The capital of the emirate is Umm al Qawain city. This is the home of the ruler and the commercial and administrative capital. The city has the main seaport and the Marine research institute which charts the development of the fisheries of the emirate. Umm al Qawain is located on a lagoon formed by a narrow peninsula on the west and some islands on the east. This lagoon called Khor al Bediah is well known for its sailing and bird watching sites. The emirate is also renowned for its pristine beaches which dot the long coastline though the emirate which covers only 777 square kilometers is tiny compared to the others.
The emirate has a rich history which dates back to the Bronze Age. It was the cradle of the various Arab civilizations which can trace their history to the Ubaid period around 5000-3800 BC. RAK was previously known as Julfar. Today the district of Julfar houses the biggest pharmaceutical factory in the Gulf. RAK was an important epicenter for the global pearl trade until the 20th Century when the pearl trade lost its luster .The bulk of the trade was with China and India .The British who occupied the area for much of the 19th Century utilized Ras al Khaimah to control shipping routes to and fro from India.