I have a hunch my readers believe in curses. You seem like a superstitious bunch. Some of you believe in all kinds of things – magic, Bigfoot, human rights – all are equally horrifying. But there’s something especially scary about curses. Many places in the world are said to be plagued by a curse. Among them is the tomb of Cornelius Vanderbilt. It’s said that after he died someone he cheated in business placed a curse on the tomb. And ever since then, anyone who visits it will die young. Another is Corvin castle, where Vlad the Impaler was once held as a prisoner. But these places and their alleged curses are relatively small. In fact they are barely worth mentioning. However there is an entire village believed to be cursed, a mysterious village abandoned after centuries of unexplainable events. This is the story of Al Jazirat Al Hamra.
Deep in the Arabian desert there is a little known ghost town called Al Jazirat Al Hamra. Though abandoned for decades, it stands almost exactly as it did then, only with less people and more weathered by sand storms. Frozen in time it gives a glimpse of a traditional existence now largely gone from the region The town was first settled in the 14th century by a tribe called Za’ab. A small tribe, they made their living raising sheep and diving for pearls. They had a fleet of pearling boats and regularly sold valuable pearls. In fact they found so many pearls rumor spread they were being supplied them by Djinn.
According to Arabian folklore Djinn are a form of invisible beings. Not quite human, the Djinn possess magical powers and are able to take on any form they chose. In their natural form we can’t see them but they can see us. It is said they were born from smokeless fire, and are generally feared as demonic figures. But Djinn possess free will and can be good or evil. In this case it was said the Za’ab had made some kind of pact with them. Some said the Djinn were simply showing kindness to the tribe. Others said they were exchanging pearls for human children, who they would later cook and eat. Whatever the truth the Za’ab grew wealthy from the pearl trade.
But apart from rumors of mysterious forces, the Za’ab lived a fairly un-noteworthy life. Their small village never grew to more than a few thousand people. In the 1920s the pearl market collapsed, pushing their community into poverty. This began another dark rumor – that they were cursed, a rumor still told now. Al Jazirat Al Hamra itself is in the United Arab Emirates, specifically the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Unlike other Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah is very traditional. In the 1960s a conflict broke out between it’s ruler and the Za’ab.
The Fall of Al Jazirat Al Hamra
The exact nature of the conflict is unknown, but it got so bad the entire population was rehoused in Abu Dhabi. And so the village was deserted, left to crumble into the sand. It’s held up surprisingly well considering she;s been abandoned for decades. This might be because coral was used as a major building material. But for some, it’s well preserved condition is evidence something much deeper is going on. Still now the village is said to be occupied by Djinn who walk it’s streets endlessly. Many surviving members of the tribe have returned to visit Al Jazirat Al Hamra. But even they tend to advise against staying too long. Such is the strength of the curse believed to surround it.