Ra's al-Khaimah, (meaning "The Top of the Tent"), is the northernmost of the emirates of the UAE, bordering Umm al-Qaiwain, Fujairah and the Musandam Peninsula of Oman. The emirate has a population of about 300,000 inhabitants and covers an area of 1,700 km², mostly desert, but with a backdrop of the Hajar Mountains.
Ra's al-Khaimah emirate is ruled by Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qasimi. The capital city and home of most residents is also called Ra's al-Khaimah and has a population of almost 300,000. The city has two main sections, Old R'as al-Khaimah, where the fort is (now museum) and Nakheel, on the other side of the creek.
Historically the site of Ra's al-Khaimah city was known as Julfar and inhabited by the Azd, an aboriginal Arab tribe during the eighth and ninth century CE. In the early 18th century the Qawasim clan established itself in R'as al-Khaimah and it was this clan that attacked British shipping after the British had signed an agreement with their arch rivals, the Al-Busaids of Oman in an effort to keep the French from establishing themselves in this region. In the early 19th century a British naval force attacked and occupied R'as al-Khaimah from 18 December 1819 to July 1821 to put a stop to the piracy perpetrated by the Qawasim on their ships. Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr al-Qasimi then signed the General Maritime Treaty with Britain in 1822.
In 1869 Ra's al-Khaimah became fully independent from Sharjah, but still ruled by a collateral branch of the Sharjah Qawasim dynasty. However, in September 1900 it was re-incorporated into Sharjah, until on 7 July 1921 the emirate was recognised as independent by Britain. When on 2 December 1971 the United Arab Emirates was proclaimed, Ra's al-Khaimah initially declined to join; however, after further consideration Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad al-Qasimi joined the United Arab Emirates on 11 February 1972.