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61. The Boogeyman in UAT between 1750 and 1850

OCT. 27, 2022


Meet the desert-dwelling spooks and ghouls of the United Arab Emirates in this Hallowe’en special. Ryan drives the History Machine to the period 1750 to 1850, when the seas around Arabia saw piracy, vengeance and violence. But who in this conflict was the real Boogeyman?

This episode took a spooky turn as Ryan introduced Pete to the United Arab Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates, or the Emirates, or UAE, is a country in Western Asia and almost all of the UAE is desert, boasting some of the world’s largest sand dunes.

UAE includes both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but it is actually a federation of seven emirates:
o Abu Dhabi, the largest and the nation's capital – it covers 87% of UAE
o Dubai, the futuristic and most populous city
o Fujairah, the only emirate with a coastline not on the Persian Gulf
o Ras Al Khaimah, which is famous for its beaches and largest share of rainfall
o Sharjah, the emirate famous for it’s arts and culture, recently made ‘World Book Capital’ by UNESCO
o Umm Al Quwain, the second smallest emirate with the least amount of people, and
o Ajman, (Aash-muhn) the smallest emirate at just 260 sq km (308 times smaller than France)
Now, each of the seven emirates are governed by an emir, hence the name.

UAE has a population of 10 million people, but an amazing 9 million of them are expatriates of which 4.5 million are from India.

Arabic is the official language, Islam the religion, and the currency is the Dirham. The national symbol is the Falcon, the national animal is the Oryx, a type of deer which was the first species to have been regarded as extinct but now back in the wild.

Spooks in UAE – the evil trees and a ghostly bride
In Mushrif Park in Jumeirah there are six trees which are said to be cursed. Originally located on a roundabout on the Al Ain road in Dubai, the trees are said to have caused a string of mysterious deaths, including an old man who crashed his car into the trees and in his dying breath spoke of seeing an evil spirit there.

Some say the trees grew on the site of an ancient burial ground and are now rooted in evil, and that is why, for many years, the trees were fenced off to protect the public. But spooky goings-on continued until a brave tree surgeon respectfully dug up all six trees and moved them to Jumeirah.

If that’s not spooky enough for you, if you’re in Dubai, and travel along the airport road you might be unlucky enough to meet the ghostly Dubai Bride!

In this spot, some drivers claim that a woman dressed in an elegant Arabic wedding dress will appear to them in their backseat – disappearing only when they turn to confront her.

The bride doesn’t cause any harm, she just stares sadly out of the window and disappears once you leave the tunnel. Who is this mysterious ghostly bride? Nobody knows.

History of UAE
130,000 years ago, sea-levels dropped by hundreds of metres. In the Middle East this meant the Arabian Gulf dried out becoming a muddy valley which soon turned green and fertile, the perfect home for a small group of about 50 people who migrated out of Africa and settled there.

18,000 years ago the sea levels started to rise, and by 8,000BCE they’d risen by about 400 feet (125 metres), meaning the valley was now submerged under water, causing people to move, sensibly, inland.

It’s estimated that tens of thousands of people lived in the area, kickstarting much of humanity’s technological and societal advancements.

A thousand years later in 7,000 BCE the weather changed again, becoming hot and dry. Lakes dried up and the land became covered with drifting sand.

Sumerian texts written around 3,000 BCE describe a 'Makkan' or Magan people who were trading with civilisations in Mesopotamia, Iran and people in the Indus Valley.

Over 2,000 years the Magan were gradually replaced by the Hafit, Umm Al Nar and Wadi Suq people.

By 200CE, there was a large movement of Arabic tribes which head towards the Gulf.

By the 7th century, Islam started to spread to the area following a letter sent by the prophet Muhammad to the rulers of Oman - who then all converted. Clearly Muhammed could write a compelling letter.

Following the death of the Prophet Mohammed in the year 632, various insurrections spring up which were quickly ended in a violent battle. Meanwhile, nomadic groups were clashing amongst themselves and tribal groupings started to form, some of which are still represented by modern Emiratis, like the Bani Yas, the Al Bu Falah and the Qawasim.

In the 16th century, the Portuguese arrived, as they were wont to do, followed by the English and the Dutch. Of those, by the 18th century, only the British remained.

During the 19th and early 20th century, the main export of the area was pearls fished out of the Gulf - but the First World War, the depression in the 20s, and the creation of artificial pearls, wiped out the trade – and locals faced extreme economic hardship.

That hardship was not to last though, thanks to… oil!

In 1935, a British-led oil company, the Iraq Petroleum Company started drilling in Abu Dhabi and by 1958, vast reserves of oil had been found and exports began.

As money rolled in, the leaders of Abu Dhabi and Dubai began massive construction programs, building housing, schools, hospitals and roads – marking the start of the modern global cities we know today.

In 1968, Britain decided to end its relationship with the region. Good news for those not keen on Britain, but this also had the effect of leaving the area unprotected against invasions by Iran.

Negotiations resulted in a shaky peace agreement with Iran, but then Saudi Arabia started to eye up large parts of Abu Dhabi for invasion.

So, to protect themselves, on 10 January 1972, all seven of the emirates agreed to enter into a union called the ‘United Arab Emirates’.

In 2004, UAE's first president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan died, and his son was elected as the new President. Two years later, the first ever national elections were held on 16 December 2006.

More recently, in February 2021, the UAE successfully sent a probe to Mars, the first country in the Arab world to do so.

And in May 2022, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected as the new president of UAE following the death of his father.

Who is the Boogeyman?

Not so much a creature as an idea, the essence of fear and terror, the boogeyman, also known as the bogeyman, the boogie monster or the boogie woogie is a generic name for any mythic creature that personifies terror.

The Boogeyman has no specific appearance with different cultures describing different versions. Linguistically it originates from the mid-19th century, it comes from the word ‘Bogey’, which is a name for the devil and used to describe anything that brings terror and dread.

Bogey was eventually combined with the word bear to create ‘bugbear’, an imaginary demon in the form of a creature that was part goblin, part bear, part scarecrow that ate small children who had misbehaved. Which is one way to get them to eat their vegetables.
The Bugbear which eventually morphed into the Boogeyman, but it could be said that many of the creepy creatures of the UAE are versions of the terrifying bogeyman of legend, including…

The Donkey Lady
No one knows the true origins of Um Homar, The Donkey Lady. This creature is half-woman and half-donkey, and she seeks out children to eat.

Wearing all black and approaching with the sound of hooves, this cunning and deceitful creature waits for parents to take their afternoon nap then approaches homes and cries out to children for help, begging for food and water.

God help any children that do help, for surely they will be snatched away to her lair where she eats them slowly. And for those children who do not open the door, Um Homar will not leave, she bangs on the door and encourages them ever sweetly to come outside

So, if you’re ever in the Emirates when the sun is high, listen out for the sound of the Donkey Lady’s hooves, and if you hear them – run inside as fast as you can - because the Um Homar is coming for you - and she’s hungry

UAE history – the pirate coast

Health warning: history, as they say, is written by the winners. The history that follows is no exception and is disputed by some. For a different view on the story, the works of historian and current Sultan of Sharjah, Sulṭān ibn Muḥammad al-Qāsimī present a different perspective.

In central Arabia in the 17th century there lived a race of Arabs called the Salafis (aka the Wahhabi).

One day, a group of their descendants decided to leave the sand, and pack up and move east to the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf.

Once there, they hunt for pearls and set up a series of trade routes to sell their finds.

To distinguish themselves from the Salafis who had stayed in the desert, they become known as the Qawasim.

Time moves on and by 1750, the Qawasim have become one of the major power players dominating the Gulf, alongside the Persians, the French and the East India Company, a British company that was operating out of Bombay in India.

In 1751, the Qawasim and Persians formed an alliance against the threat of their European rivals, and together they became the strongest naval power in the Gulf.

This alliance used their new-found strength to attack East India Company ships travelling in the Gulf on their way to trade.

However, their ships are not as well armed as the British boats who are usually carrying a few cannons, so the general tactic adopted was for the Qawasim sail up close, board the ships, kill those who resisted, take command of the ship, and its cargo, and then either reuse them, sell them or ransom them.

It was clearly effective. British sailors soon dubbed the area - the Pirate Coast!

Unsurprisingly, the East India Company wasn’t happy about the Qawasim threat, and saw an opportunity to end it peacefully, when in 1797, Qawasim commander Sheikh Saleh met with the British to ask for help attacking his enemies in Oman.

Sensing an opportunity for a new way forward, the British handed over a supply of cannonballs and gunpowder from a Company ship called the Viper.

This was, it turned out, a mistake. Sheikh Saleh thanked the British for the ammunition, then as he was sailed off, turned around and fired on the Viper using the ammunition they had been gifted.

Despite this, the Qawasim did stop attacking ships for a while.

But not for long. Word of the Qawasim’s power had travelled, and religious leaders in their original tribe (The Wahibi) saw an opportunity to be part of what was a lucrative business.

They made a deal with the Qawasim to help support their fight against their enemies, the East India Company and the country of Oman. In return, the Qawasim had to agree to return to Wahhabism and also pay the Wahabi leaders one-fifth of any booty that they captured.

With this agreement in place, by 1804, when the Sultan of Muscat in Oman, died – the Qawasim took full advantage of their enemy’s disarray by returning to attacking ships in the gulf.

In fact, within weeks of the Sultan’s death, the Qawasim were masters of the Strait of Hormuz which controlled entry into the Arabian gulf.

This left the Qawasim able to strike at any vessel entering or leaving their waters. So that’s what they did.

In 1804, the Shannan and the Trimmer, two of the Company’s ships were taken and in 1805, a fleet of 40 Qawasim ships attacked the East India Company's ships, the Mornington and the Queen.

These attacks were bad for the East India Company, but what was worse was the lack of a ruler in Oman. If the Qawasim took this opportunity to take control there they would be substantially more powerful.
So, the British decided to do something about it and decided to appoint a new successor in Oman as soon as they could.

To that end, they sent a Company man called Seton as an ambassador to Muscat, the capital of Oman. He was given a ship and told to use it in operation with the Omanis to recover any ships or cargo that had been taken.

Seton reached Muscat, and with the Omani’s help, made two successful assaults on the Qawasim – which compelled them to negotiate peace.

The Qawasim made an offer to return a stolen Company ship and its cargo – but this wasn’t enough for Seton, who was under orders to recover all stolen ships and cargo.

So, Seton made a new arrangement with the Qawasim leader Sultan Bin Saqar which stated that the Qawasim would respect East India Company property (and people) from now on, and if they broke that promise, they’d be fined 30,000 large silver coins (about 300m USD today).

This agreement even had a notice period – with the Qawasim agreeing that if they were going to break the peace and attack Oman or East India company ships, , they would have to give three months notice!

In return, Seton allowed the Qawasim to keep all stolen goods taken to date, and he removed all restrictions on their commercial ships being able to access ports in British India to trade goods.

It seemed like a reasonable and lasting peace had been achieved.

Or had it?

Spooks in UAE - Baba Daryah the Father of the Seas

The people who live by the coast of the Emirates – especially those who work at sea – tell tales of a frightening creature called Baba Daryah, ‘the father of the seas’. A frightening and horrific creature, Baba Daryah is said to be slender and dark, with mutilated lips and amputated hands.

He appears in the darkness, sneaking into boats at night between prayer and morning call and , once onboard, he hunts sailors, approaching them from behind, grabbing them and jumping overboard, dragging them down to the depths, where he eats their corpse.

It is said that if you hear the sound of his movement behind you - it is already too late.

Others say Baba Darya is a devil who lives in the sea, a creature who swims to the surface and pleads as if he is drowning, but when brought on board, kills the sailors and destroys their ship
Some say Baba Daryh is just a joke, a fun initiation to horrify new sailors, or a harmless way to frighten children and prevent them from swimming after eating.

But do you want to take that risk?

UAE history – the return of “piracy”

The Qawasim leader, Sultan Bin Saqar returned home with the new agreement, but they were not happy with the agreement or about not being consulted. So they rejected the terms, deposed Bin Saqar, and made his uncle the new leader.

Thus, the moment Seton and his fleet left to return to Bombay, the Qawasim resumed their attacks, within months capturing twenty Company ships.

This left the Qawasim a powerful fleet, over fifty ships to terrorise the East India Company. Then on the 23 May 1808, they added to this when a fleet of Qawasim overwhelmed the British ship Minerva and executed most of the crew and passengers.

Mrs. Taylor, the Captain’s wife, and her infant son were captured and Mrs Taylor was sold to an Arab for around $2m in modern money and ransomed a year later for the equivalent of $3m.

For the Company, this was the last straw.

In November 1808, the heavily armed Company ship, the Teignmouth, was ordered to sail to the Gulf to “do some training in the area” which was a coded way of saying to destroy or capture any Qawasim vessels that it found such that, “their chief may be made sensible of the enormity of their aggression and reduced to solicit a restoration of peace".

Seton, who had negotiated the initial peace deal, knew this was unlikely to work on its own. He suggested that the British ally with the new ruler of Muscat in Oman, and work together to eliminate the threat.

The Bombay government agreed and in May 1809, Captain Wainwright and several hundred troops were sent to Muscat to work with the Omanis to destroy the Qawasim war fleet, attacking only major ports and harbours.

In early November 1809, an expedition set sail.

The force consisted of the Chiffonne, the Caroline, the Fury, the Stromboli and three other transports carrying over 1300 troops. Together they had a total firepower of 150 cannons.

On 11 November they arrived at the Qawasim stronghold fort of Ra's Al-Khaimah, and bombarded it for three solid hours. The next day troops were put into boats and rowed towards the shore.
The Qawasim were in the mosque at prayer when the soldiers opened fire, and despite rushing to repel the attack ‘with tumultuous shouts’ they were, in Wainwrights own words.. “shook a great deal.. the grape shot from the gun-boats, and the troops landing in great style, soon overpowering them.”

By ten o'clock the Qawasim were driven out of the town, with Wainwright saying, “the shells and spherical case shot from two howitzers and five field-pieces annoying them very much.”

The town was set on fire and by four o'clock fifty ships and all the buildings were destroyed. As Wainwright said, “Thus, in a few hours was this enterprising and powerful people reduced to poverty and weakness.”

In his turn, Wainwright had suffered the loss of just 4 men.

But this wasn’t the end of the attacks. On 15 November the expedition sailed to the Persian coast and attacked the Qawasim based there, destroying 20 ships.

On the 26th November, Wainwright and his fleet arrived at another Qawasim stronghold and appealed to the leaders to surrender, but they refused.

So the next day, Wainwright ordered troops ashore but when they arrived, they found the town abandoned, the Qawasim having moved to a large fort at top of a steep cliff.

This wasn’t the end of the destruction though. Wainwright’s men destroyed 11 ships, the town and the fort.

Within 24 hours, 90 Qawasim had been killed and the leader had surrendered

Still they went on. Wainwright ordered his men to set sail, and arrived at the port of Shinas on New Years Eve 1809.

A call was sent for surrender - again it was rejected – and again, bombardment began.

On the 2nd January, Wainwright landed his troops with mortars and howitzers and on the 3rd January, they breached the fortress walls.

By the end of that day, 400 Qawasim were dead, versus just two British soldiers

Within two months, Wainwright and his forces had turned the tables completely.

But with such death and destruction, who was the Boogeyman now?

Spooks in UAE - Ghareeb – ‘The Man who makes you say ‘Qeeq’’

There is a man whose name is said to bring dread into your heart. His name is Ghareeb – and he was a real man, from a well-known family.

Described as slender, short and with no real signs of strength, his skin is pale, his clothes covered in blood, he carries a stick which he waves menacingly in the air.

Ghareeb adores violence and he does not like lying, joking or bad manners. And so his favourite activity is to punish misdeeds.

It is said that every afternoon Ghareeb would walk in the alleys of the neighbourhood, waving his stick - and when children heard his voice, they would run and hide.

Because Ghareeb was famous for one particular punishment – a brutal and bloody contest of pain and submission. The punishment begins in alleyways, where he blocks the path of naughty children, then attacks them, before carrying them under his armpits to the beach where the public are gathered to watch.

Here the child is tied by a thick rope to a rock buried in the sand. Then Ghareeb ties another naughty child opposite them and gives both a bamboo stick which has metal nails pointing out of it.

Ghareeb tells the crowd that the children have disobeyed their parents and not done their duty toward their families, and so it is down to him to “rehabilitate” them.

He explains the rules of the game.. the children must beat each other with these sticks and there must be no surrender until one of them says ‘qeeq’, an Emirati word which indicates a great deal of humiliation and indignity.

The one who says Kik is then thrown into the sea so that salt water can enter their wounds and their pain felt more intensely.

Which is what you get for being a naughty child when Ghareeb is around.

That said, it was believed that those children who were punished would grow up to become the most friendly and polite people in the neighbourhood, so perhaps the punishment did, in the end, fit the crime.

Either way, it’s best to remain a polite, and well behaved child, unless you want to find yourself under the arm of Ghareeb.

AE history – the chasing of Ibrahim

From a military point of view, the British Government’s attack on the Qawasim was a complete success, and by February the bulk of the troops had left to return to Bombay

"It was the prevalent opinion in the Gulf, founded on the result of this expedition, that the Qawasim had been rendered incapable of committing any further depredation by sea”

However, in reality most of the Qawasim fleet had actually escaped before the attacks or they had been hidden in various inlets along the coast.
This was enough to ensure that, within four years, Qawasim ships were back in force in the Arabian Gulf. In 1816, they took three vessels under British colours and killed the crew, shortly followed by a string of other attacks.

In fact, the Qawasim were also beginning to attack pretty much any other ship that sailed in the Gulf, including an American ship in 1818, the Persia, and a French schooner, both of which were boarded and looted.

They also turned their attentions to villages too, carrying off cattle, and killing inhabitants.

Fear of the Qawasim had returned, and the Bombay government knew they had to act again.

The Governor of Bombay, Sir Euan Nepean, gathered information about the Qawasim and in September 1818, he submitted a report to the Marquis of Hastings (the Governor-General of India). He proposed an immediate preparation for military action.

Hastings agreed, but suggested that they wait another year, to build up the men needed for an effective military, and to give time for an alliance to be formed with Ibrahim Pasha, the son of the Ottoman sultan, who was currently fighting through the Arabian peninsula and was soon to battle the Wahabis.

If the Ottomans won, the Qawasim would lose support from their Wahabi benefactors and it would weaken their position in the gulf.

According to Hastings, having Ibrahim on-board was vital in turning the tides.

To make this so, a special envoy was sent to meet with Ibrahim Pasha, congratulate him on his military successes - and invite him to join forces with the British against the Qawasim.

The man chosen for this mission was Captain George Forster Sadlier, and on 14 April 1819, Sadlier set sail from Bombay to the Arabian shore armed with a letter and a ceremonial sword as a gift for the Pasha.

He reached Oman on 7 May and spent 11 days there before heading off to the Persian coast, where on 7 June he learned that Ibrahim Pasha was preparing to leave Arabia for a pilgrimage to Mecca, after which he was likely to return to Egypt.

Sadlier had to get moving.

So he left Persia and arrived on the Arab coast on 18 June, when he finally arrived he found that none of the Pasha’s officers knew where their commander was.

On a hunch, on 28 June, 1819, Sadlier, accompanied by a group of Bedouins, set off into the Arabian desert to find Ibrahim and hand over the letter.

After a difficult two-week journey he reaches the remote town of Al-Hassa, only to find out that the Pasha had long ago left for Daraeia, which was 310 miles (500km) away.

It looked like Sadlier would have to travel again. After a 10 day rest, on 21 July, he also leaves for Daraeia in pursuit of his goal.

The journey took three weeks. When he arrived, Sadlier finds that Ibrahim has left yet again, this time for for Hejaz another 400 miles (600km) away.

Undeterred, after another 10 days of rest, he set off on again, back into the desert.

More weeks pass and eventually he arrived at Ibrahim’s camp. Hurrah!

Except Pasha himself had left two days earlier for Medina, near the coast of the Red Sea.

Now Sadlier had had enough. He demanded that the Pasha be escorted back to meet with him.

That didn’t work either. So Sadlier packed his bags again and headed for Medina where, finally - he caught up with Ibrahim, gives him the sword and relays the message from Governor Hastings, making him one of history’s most determined postmen.

The Pasha seems interested in the letter, but tells Sadlier that a decision this big would require his father's opinion.

Sadlier sat down and waited.

Well, at least he didn’t have to travel any more.

Spooks in UAE - Abu Fanous – ‘The Man with the Lamp’

If you’re in the desert at night, and you see a mysterious glowing light in the distance – you might think that it’s help, some travelling caravan with food and water – or perhaps it could be a light from a nearby town that can offer you respite from the heat.

But it might be something far more sinister.

Do not attempt to follow the light, because it might be Abu Fanous – ‘the man with the lamp’.

Abu is a devilish character, a man who roams the desert alone at night and tricks travellers into losing their way. If you try to approach him, his lamp will lead you away from your chosen path, then the light will diminish and you’ll realise too late, that you are lost, alone, and left to die.

So, stick to the path, and don’t be tempted by that light in the desert darkness.

Spooks in UAE - The Headless Camel and the camel with a sack.
Deep in the desert you might come across a headless camel - slaughtered camels who have lost their head but not their soul. Every evening they rise from the dead - appearing in the darkness and intent on revenge.

Or worse, you might encounter a huge wild camel that hides behind trees, appearing only during the afternoon siesta to capture people using a large sack which it launches out of its mouth.

Once trapped inside the Camel’s salivary sack, the victim’s fear and terror feed the camels insatiable hunger, until finally, it spits you out, and you are left alone and lost, afraid that the camel will return to eat you again.

Then again, it might just be a normal camel. Why not go up and pet it and find out?

UAE history – Ibrahim finally appears

In the end, Sadlier had to wait over a month until finally he heard that a reply had been received from Cairo from Ibrahim’s father.

He then had to wait several more days to meet with the Pasha to hear what the message said.

The meeting with Ibrahim never came.

20 days later he was finally called, and the Pasha revealed that he would write to Governor-General Hastings with an answer, along with a gift of an Arab stallion and mare.

Before the meeting ended, Ibrahim asked Sadlier to help him address the letter to Hastings properly, wanting the Governor-General's full title and address. When Sadlier told him to address the Governor-General as "the Honourable", the Pasha was furious, saying that that title was worthy only of the Prophet Mohamed and together they settled on addressing the letter to "the Illustrious" Governor Hastings.

A few days later Sadlier boarded the boat to start the journey, and only now inspects the horses which were a gift for Hastings.

He finds the saddles and stirrups used and well-worn, and so he rejects them and demands another meeting with the Pasha. Well, we know how well that went last time.

He waited ten days later, when he is granted a meeting with the Pasha, only to find that the Pasha has sent his private surgeon in his place, which is not quite the same thing.

Angrily, Sadlier refuses the gifts, saying they are an insult and unworthy of a man such as his boss. The surgeon leaves, not hugely perturbed by the threat.

A day later the horses were unloaded from the boat, Sadlier himself was then loaded on the boat, and told to leave town immediately.

On the way he is informed that the Pasha has decided to cancel his reply, and send a different message to the Governor-General instead – and is returning his gift sword too.

Sadlier had no option but to leave empty-handed. Unless you count the returned sword.

After a journey across Arabia that lasted two years, he reached home on 5 May 1820 having utterly failed in his mission.

What did Sadlier do wrong? Possibly nothing. It later became clear that Ibrahim Pasha never had any intention of meeting with Sadlier and that his continuous movement across the desert was intentional. He wasn’t even really bothered by the Governor-General's title, or the criticism of his horses - it was all a pretext in following his father’s advice which was not to trust the British.

And the consequences of all this were.. very little.

The British weren’t bothered by Pasha’s rejection either, because whilst Sadlier had spent his days on a wild-goose chase across the entire Arabian Peninsula, Hastings had already written that project off and started his attack on the Qawasim in any event.

Which just goes to show, it’s the journey, not the destination.

Spooks in UAE - Um Addwais – ‘The Woman with Sickles for Hands’

Um Addwais is a beautiful woman, both elegant and graceful, slim and attractive, with long black hair.

Sounds nice.

She wears golden clothing and a perfume so strong it can be smelt from a mile away. She also has eyes like a cat.

So far so good.

And where you would expect to find hands, she had sharp, curved blades.

There’s always a catch isn’t there?

Um Addwais, can appear anywhere, to anyone, and when she does she will seduce them and then kill them.

One man was riding a donkey when he saw a beautiful girl on the road near a mountain. The girl approached him timidly, lifted her veil and with a grin, called out to the man in a lovely voice, suggesting that he follow her.
The man was tempted, but thought to himself, who was this woman? How did she come to this remote place?

And so he refused – and immediately Um Addwais revealed her true identity – an old hag whose looks were so scary that the man could not stand to look at her.

He turned his face, and began nervously reciting passages from the holy Quran and when he looked again.. she had disappeared!

The man knew that if he had surrendered to immorality - he would surely have surrendered to death itself.

UAE history – bringing out the big guns

While Sadlier was wasting his time traipsing across the Arabian desert, the Bombay government had given up on the idea of an Egyptian-British alliance, and had decided instead to rely on the Omanis.

The Muscat contribution was generous, 70 boats with 800 sailors, and 4,000 soldiers for the land.

In Bombay, Major General Sir William Grant Keir was selected to command a fleet of warships, cruisers and transport ships carrying a total of 212 cannons and 3,000 men.

On 27 October 1819 Keir was given instructions to proceed to the Qawasim fortress of Ra's Al-Khaimah and seize it, destroying any ships, and this time, leaving a permanent British garrison there.

After that, he was ordered to continue on and do the same to all other ports which supported the Qawasim.

As predicted by Hastings, Ibrahim Pasha’s attacks on the Wahabis had resulted in them providing much less support to the Qawasim. And with word of the impending British attack, some Qawasim Sultans took the opportunity to shift sides, making alliances with the Omanis.

This left Hassan Ibn Rahama, the ruler of Ra's Al-Khaimah with a bit of a problem – left to face the British-Omani forces alone.

He did have one advantage. Ra's Al-Khaimah was the most strongly fortified town on the entire Gulf coast. It was three or four miles in length and less than a mile wide, with the open sea on one side, protected by a long sandbank which kept large warships from getting too close.

Extra fortifications had been built since the attack in 1809, and now the walls were 15ft wide with defensive towers mounted with cannons taken from captured ships.
And for good measure, inside the walls was a massive building made of stone called the Citadel, widely considered the strongest building on the Gulf.

But, before any of these obstacles could be tackled, the British General Kier had to face a different battle - with disease.

Malaria, cholera and scurvy were all taking their toll on the troops - so many in fact that Kier had to employ several hospital ships to follow along behind them to treat his men.

But they struggled on. Despite issues with disease, and low supplies of fresh food and water, the British-Omani forces finally arrived at Ra's Al-Khaimah on 28 November 1819.

They encircled the area to prevent anyone from getting in or out. Then, at 5 o'clock in the morning on the 3 December vast numbers of boats loaded with troops moved in a long line towards the beach with gunboats on their flanks.

There was little resistance when they landed, and by evening, British and Omani stores and equipment were ashore, including howitzers and six-pounder guns.

The Qawasim withdrew inside their fortress and closed the gates.

By nightfall, the British forces had advanced to within 25 yards of the Citadel. They made a rampart from sandbags and set up a battery of four big guns.

The next day, 4th December, shelling commenced - from land and sea, pounding the citadel for hour after hour.

On the 5th December, the shelling became more intense, but the Citadel held up. On the 6th it continued, and cracks started to appear in the stone.

The Qawasim did their best to counter the bombardment by firing huge stones and unexploded British shells back at the attacking forces, but the British clearly had the force advantage. .

In a desperate effort, during the night, a suicide squad led by the brother of Hassan Ibn Rahama, left the Citadel. They attacked and took the British position.

A fierce battle ensued, during which at least 90 Qawasim were killed, including Ibn Rahama’s brother – and the British regained control of the area.

After four days of continual artillery shelling without a breakthrough, General Keir upped the stakes, sending the larger cannons from his ships onto shore. On 8th December they went into action.

The power of the cannons this close to the fortress walls was so damaging that by the evening of that same day, the walls had been breached.
That night, Kier contacted the Ibn Rahama to discuss his surrender, but no agreement could be reached. So on 9th December, firing resumed and a breach was made into the citadel walls.

A group of British sailors rushed in… the place was empty!

Ibn Rahama had used the cover of night to retreat into the hills. It seemed like some success, but faced with the loss of the fortress and 80 of his ships, he had no choice but to surrender.

Hassan Ibn Rahama was placed in confinement while the citadel and all remaining fortifications were destroyed.

In total, 400 Qawasim were killed at Ruz Al Heimah; the British lost just 4 men.

Spooks in UAE - Athyoun – The Sleep Demon
Athyoun is a creature of very real fear. Some say he’s real, some say it’s the result of a bad dream, and others consider him a Satanic demon.

Whatever he is, we know that Athyoun is a creature who will visit you during the night, and will sit on your chest and stretch out your tongue.

He will alter your dreams in a way that causes the most extreme anxiety and horror.

So good night. Sleep tight. And pray you do not get a visit from Athyoun.

UAE history – peace in their time

The fall of Ra's Al-Khaimah was not the end of General Kier’s expedition to the Gulf. He was under strict orders to destroy the Qawasim entirely, wherever it be found, and so over the next month he travelled around the Arab coast, stopping at every Qawasim town and port he could find.

He captured fortresses, took prisoners, reclaimed ships and any stolen cargo he could.

Despite his success at this, Keir realised that it would be advantageous to show willing to his enemey, and so he released the captured Qawasim leaders on a promise to cease their piracy.

It is said that this decision was instrumental in the remaining Qawasim leaders choosing peace rather than continuing to fight. Peace treaties were signed and each stronghold, gun and vessel were handed over without violence.

And that was that.

The operation was over, and it all took less than one month
The East India Company wanted to encourage a spirit of renewed cooperation with their former foe, and so a decision was reached to recognise their continued independence and rights to commercial shipping.

With the tiny caveat that Britain would continue to monitor their politics and military over what would become 150 years of British influence in the region.

Spooks in UAE - The Ghost Village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra
Along the coast, south of (Ruz Al Heimah) Ras Al Khaimah, is a town called Al Jazirah Al Hamra. In 1820, it was home to about 200 people.

They kept sheep and cattle, and had a small fleet of fishing boats which would cruise the waters fishing for pearls.

But one night, the entire village upped and left – leaving the place abandoned. No-one knows for sure why the people left. Some say that they were forced to flee because the town was invaded by an evil spirit.

And even today, it is said that if you stay overnight, there is a chance you will encounter the spirit yourself and not make it through the night. Locals from the surrounding area refuse to visit the town - afraid of the creature that has made it it’s home.

Spooks in UAE - Khattaf Raffay – ‘The Killer Sail’ or ‘The Ship with Limbs’

One evening, around midnight, a woman was walking through her neighbourhood. Suddenly she felt the presence of a man walking behind her.

She turned to face the man and to her horror, he transformed into… a boat!

Yes, you read that right. A boat. A boat with little sails and limbs.

The woman ran, but the boat-man-creature pursued her trying to lasso her with a rope. Eventually she reached her house and yelled for her husband to help.

As luck would have it, her husband was strong and tough, and when he saw that the creature trying to lasso his wife, he grabbed the rope and pulled on it – yanking it out of the Boatman’s grasp.

Seeing how strong the husband was, Khattaf Raffay turned and ran away.

But the story does not end there.. Khattaf Raffay could not live without his rope, because how else was he to capture women? So the next day, the creature went back to the house, and knocked on the door and begged the husband for his rope back.

Demanding that he never come back, the husband reluctantly gave him the rope. Khattaf Raffay left and was never see again in the neighbourhood.

No one knows where he went, but if you’re walking the streets alone late at night, check behind you – because the boat with limbs might be right there!

Which, honestly, you’d kind of want to see wouldn’t you?

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