words + photos by Jolandi Steven
In the pursuit of progress, the past is often overlooked, neglected, discarded or forgotten.
But to me, it holds an allure that is enticing, charming, mesmerizing and utterly seductive. Not so for everyone: When I first mentioned the abandoned village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra on the outskirts of Ras-al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates to my husband, he evinced his non-committal with a shrug of his shoulders.
Thanks to Google, I learned that Al Jazirah Al Hamra means “Red Island,” and before the discovery of oil and subsequent land reclamation that linked the old town permanently to the mainland, it was on a peninsula that, with high tide, became an island. The questions puzzling me were: “Why did the people abandon their homes?” “Where did they go?”