Sham, Ras al-Khaimah
most northerly village on the UAE's Arabian Gulf coast, lying on the roadside
north to Khasab in the Musandam of Oman, Sham is a bustling Ras al-Khaimah
fishing village. Compared with earlier times, most fishing boats are now
of fibreglass construction and fitted with powerful outboard engines.
These lie either at anchor close to shore or run up on the gently shelving
beach. Migrating fish shoals regularly pass close to shore and when the
boats are able to intercept them a massive catch may be landed. Landings
of shark have declined, however, and there are now moves to protect stocks
and to outlaw export of shark fin.
The Ras al-Khaimah fish soukh is a naturalist's paradise, with species
of fish never previously recorded in the Arabian Gulf sometimes being
found on offer! As recently as 1999, the spotted ocean triggerfish (Canthidermis
maculatus) was found in such a way. This fish is known from the western
Indian Ocean, but had not previously been recorded closer to the UAE than
the Gulf of Aden, off Djibouti and the Maldive islands.
As the heat and humidity increases along the coast in summer, Sham takes
on a soporific air, with some people seeking relief, albeit minor, by
retiring to the relative cool of their former homes high up in the hills.