Constructed in the 18th century, Falayah served as a summer residence for the ruling Quwasim family. Surrounded by lush date palm gardens, the attractive retreat provided a peaceful respite from the city of Ras Al Khaimah during the hot summer months.
Its historical importance dates back to the 1819 war between the Quwasim tribes and the British and Omani forces. During the summer of 1820, the ruling sheikhs of the Gulf coast and the British government signed the peace treaty at Falayah to pacify the Gulf States. The peace treaty is cited as forming the foundation of the United Arab Emirates.
Today, Falayah has three buildings: a mosque in the western quarter, a stone tower in the centre and the main building that housed the domestic quarters in the east.
The main building, known as hareem, is a private area that combines a string of rooms and a mud-brick tower. It’s thought that the tower, with two doors on either side, was used as a private entrance into the complex. The adjacent rooms were used as a reception room or majlis, a living room and a stable.
The large stone tower marks the western side of the secondary courtyard used as a public area. The reception room on the first floor may have been where the peace treaty in 1820 was signed. The central tower was the central defence structure; residents could barricade the entrance with a large beam. Soldiers would use the crenellated walls and loopholes at the roof level for fighting and protecting the residence.
The Quwasim family and the local residents used the mosque each Friday for prayer. The mosque combines the partially covered courtyard and prayer room illuminated by light from low windows and ventilated by small holes in the upper walls. The eastern section of the mosque houses a raised platform used for open-air morning and evening prayers. The raised minaret would call for prayer at different times of the day. Interestingly, tall minarets had no history in the region until their introduction in the 20th century. It’s one of the few surviving examples of a typical traditional mosque in the United Arab Emirates.