Widely known as the Ghost Village, Jazirat Al Hamra is an abandoned and closed off area in Ras Al Khaimah with a long history of spooky stories. Dubai Week spent the day at the deserted village with renowned photographer Wouter Kingma and Canon cameras to explore and capture our findings through photographs.
Before we embarked our our adventure, we were provided with a variety of cameras to choose from Canon’s latest collection – courtesy of Canon Middle East, followed by a brief description of each one. From the large EOS 5D SR to the mini G9X, there was a camera suitable for everyone.
“This area is a restricted site, and has been closed off to the public,” Wouter told us as soon as we walked through the chainlink fence surrounding the village – giving us just another reason to be afraid.
One of the site managers talked us through the history of the abandoned village.. It used to be a village with schools and shops; the biggest trade area in the 40s. But after the oil exploration began in the UAE, everyone moved out. In fact one of the areas, which is now under renovation, had a big prison underground.
Fun fact: Brad Pitt recently flew down to the Jazirat Al Hamra village by helicopter to film scenes for his upcoming movie War Machine.
With only three hours till sunset, I quickly decided to begin my ‘urban exploration’ with the Canon EOS 5D SR, which was surprisingly simple to use. All the grey brick walls in the village were broken down, the wooden plank doors had large cracks in them and the stairs crumbled below our feet with each step.
The whole village, which looked more like it was demolished rather than abandoned, was filled with interesting things to capture on camera, from the shadows and shapes of the broken walls, to the contrasting textures of stone, to the little white lizards roaming about.
Wouter gave us photography tips and helped us throughout, allowing us to take better pictures. One piece of advice was to try taking photographs from various angles and heights, which inspired me to fearlessly run up stairs, climb walls and stand atop piles of wobbly rocks. All of which paid off as I got some really great unique shots.
One of the most interesting things I discovered were drawings of kids on some of the walls, which brought some life to the deserted village. We also stumbled on a dusty green truck that seemed to have been abandoned years ago, and weirdly enough – a long boat.
As the sun began to set, and it began to get a little spooky, Wouter showed us how to take sunset shots having only a ten minute time frame and explained how to adjust the aperture and shutter speed.
By the end of the day, although we were disappointed (relieved) that we saw no ghosts in the Ghost Town, we had an amazing experience exploring the village, learning about photography from the talented Wouter himself, and were very very pleased with our final shots taken by Canon’s new camera range.
Jazirat Al Hamra is currently under renovation, with plans to build a five star hotel, fountains and possibly a river. The renovation of the entire site will take eight years, and is being funded by HH Sheikh Khalifa.