Inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC, Ras al-Khaimah’s main city was for many centuries Julfar, a few kilometres to the north of the present-day city. By the 7th century Julfar was an important port of the Sassanian Empire, which was based in Iran and acted as the major power in the region. After occupation by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, Julfar was abandoned and the foundations of the modern city were laid. Ruled by the Al-Qassimi family, which also ruled Sharjah, the emirate was the major power in the Gulf from this time until the British swaggered into the region. It was because of the scars left behind from this earlier British occupation that RAK initially chose to stay out of the federation brokered by the British in 1971. Wisely, its ruler soon decided that the emirate couldn’t survive as an independent state and joined shortly afterwards. Today, the emirate’s economy is based on agriculture, the pharmaceutical industry and petrochemical industries, and its small reserves of oil.