Al Ain: The Great Oasis of the UAE

Al Ain

The cultural sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bida bint Saud and Oases regions) constitute a serial wealth with the remains of several prehistoric cultures testifying to the sedentary human occupation of a desert area since the Neolithic period. gives. Notable remains in the estate include a wide range of circular stone mausoleums (ca. 2500 BC), wells and adobe constructions: residential buildings, towers, palaces and administrative buildings. In addition, the Hili is one of the oldest examples of sophisticated aflaj irrigation systems dating back to the Iron Age. The property provides important evidence of the transition of cultures in the area from hunting and gathering to sedentary.

Life at the edge of the Rub al Khali, or Empty Quarter—the world’s largest continuous sand desert—has never been easier, yet the inland city of Al Ain has been here for nearly 4,000 years. The reason for this can be found in its name, which means “spring.” For generations, camel trekkers flock to its leafy oasis to drink its fresh waters and sample produce grown in the shade of its palms.

That draw is still felt today. Clearly less modernized than Abu Dhabi or Dubai, Al Ain is now home to over 600,000 people and a popular weekend getaway for locals (and visitors to nearby Oman). Compared to other cities, it is relaxing and the humidity is low. More importantly, no place in the UAE provides better access to the region’s traditional ways of desert life.

Before You Go | Al Ain

It is said – with varying levels of confidence – that the founder of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, was born here, under a tree, in 1918 (the Museum of Qasr Al Muawiji gives the background). By 1971, he wished for a nation out of a fascinating collection of 180,000 Aboriginal residents. The UAE sits on a large portion of the world’s oil reserves, which helped their case. The UAE now has over nine million residents (88 percent are immigrants). And the likeness of Sheikh Zayed, who was killed in 2004, is found across the country.

Another prominent regional figure is the British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger. After World War II, Thesiger had the opportunity to study the movements of locusts in the present-day United Arab Emirates. They didn’t find many locusts, but they took a lot of pictures in this “desert within a desert” over a five-year period. Their experiences eventually led to a fantastic travelogue, the Arabian Sands, which describes nomadic, aboriginal life better than any other outside source.

It’s interesting. Thesigar traveled by camel with the Bedouins, dressed in local clothes and speaking Arabic enough to be mistaken for Syrians. He escapes from dangerous rivals and seeks out elusive grazing sites, using the dunes as markers. Thisiger wrote that these were the five happiest years of his life. According to a guide, one of his companions, Bin Kabina, living in Abu Dhabi, is still alive.

What to See and Do

A great place to start surveying the past is Al Ain’s Al Jahili Fort, a mud fort built in the 1890s and turned into a museum in 2008. The walls are made of clay, straw and fibers from palm trees, and they must be restored every six months. There are some exhibitions inside; The finest features of Thesiger’s 1940s black-and-white photographs.

Al Ain Oasis, the city’s largest oasis and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to hundreds of farms in an area of ​​1,200 hectares. At its entrance is an eco center, a compact complex with panels and a video (with 3-D effects) explaining how the oasis works.

Nearby you can see a model of Phalaj, an irrigation system that was started 3,000 years ago. Then walk down the leafy roads and pass past the fields. (It’s best to go on the weekend, when events are often staged.)

At the time of the formation of the UAE in 1971, local wildlife such as the Arabian oryx was almost extinct. Sheikh Zayed set up several projects to save them (such as Sir Bani Yas Island; see story). In 1968, he started the Al Ain Zoo here as the Oryx Conservation Center. The large outlying areas are now home to many indigenous species, including the oryx. The main attraction of the zoo is its modern Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Center, which opened in 2016. Its interactive exhibits tell the story of the region’s people and wildlife, from the roots of pearls and palms to Tel and Masdar City (a full-fledged “solar city”).

A few miles from the center of Al Ain towards the Jebel Hafit Mountains, the charming Al Ain Camel Market is a collection of grass-fed pens, where traders from Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan keep a range of camels from Chewbacca. grow like that. They are loaded into trucks. Most people speak English and are happy to show the day’s offerings. It is most active in the morning.

For foodies, Al Yahr Modern Restaurant (two blocks northwest of Al Ain Oasis via 143th Street) serves traditional Yemeni mandi (a spicy chicken or lamb grilled and served on a bed of rice). There are tables and utensils, but locals eat with their hands from the carpeted-floor seating area. It is men only on the ground floor, upstairs family areas are available.

Getting Here

Al Ain is a hundred miles east of Abu Dhabi via the E22 (Al Ain Road). Buses take a few hours and depart from Abu Dhabi’s central bus terminal several times a day.

Where to Stay

The Al Ain Rotana Hotel is a modern hotel with a big outdoor pool, a sprawling buffet restaurant, and Trader Vic’s bar. Plus, it’s a short walk from the Al Jahili Fort.

The Hilton Al Ain, southeast of the Al Ain Oasis, is another family-oriented hotel with plenty of activities including a pool, tennis court, and gym.

Read More About World Heritage Sites

Frequently Asked Questions About Al Ain

Q. Is Al Ain safe?

A – Al Ain is a relatively safe and secure city for both expatriates and locals, but there are some precautions to be taken when it comes to following local customs. The United Arab Emirates are very conservative, but with Dubai and Abu Dhabi becoming westernized in recent years, Al Ain is still very traditional.

Q. What is Al Ain known for?

A – Al-Ain is a cultural retreat for residents of the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is home to a major festival of classical music, and is home to the Al Ain Club, one of the most successful football clubs in the United Arab Emirates and Asia. It has many titles and championships to its name.

Q. Which part of United Arab Emirates is Al Ain?

A – Al-Ain, Arabic Al-Ain (“The Spring”), city in Al-Buraimi Oasis, southeastern Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates.

Q. What does Al Ain mean?

A – Al Ain (Arabic: العين) is a city in the United Arab Emirates. The city’s name literally means “spring” or “eye” in Arabic. The name comes from the water sources of the area. The city is in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, right next to the border with Oman.

Q. Where should I stay in Al Ain?

A – Al Baatein is one of the best areas to stay in Al Ain. There is nothing better than ocean views and lush green areas where you can unwind from the fast pace of life. Imagine sitting on the beach on a sunny day; It’s so stress free!

Q. Can I go from Dubai to Al Ain?

A – The city of Al Ain sits within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, so the rules for crossing the border also apply when visiting Al Ain.

Q. How much is a taxi fare from Al Ain to Dubai?

A – The fastest way to get from Al Ain City to Dubai Airport (DXB) is by taxi which costs AED 260 – AED 320 and takes 1h 24m.

Q. Is Al Ain a good place to work?

A – Al Ain has become a popular destination for working expatriates due to the high standard of living and increasing job opportunities. There are already a lot of expatriates working in Al Ain, and the expatriate community is supportive and helpful. Learn more about the local economy, job search and taxes with this article.

Q. Do you need a PCR test for Al Ain?

A – The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee has updated the procedures. Everyone entering Abu Dhabi must have a negative PCR test for the past 48 hours, or a negative DPI test for the last 24 hours to enter the emirate.

Q. How old is Al Ain?

A – Al Ain: The Great Oasis of the United Arab Emirates. This lush oasis in the middle of the Rub al Khali desert is a 4,000-year-old city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Q. Why is Al Ain called the Garden City?

A – Firstly, the name – Al Ain literally means “spring” in Arabic and is called the Garden City because of the greenery of this bustling city. Also known as the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was the first President of the United Arab Emirates, Al Ain is the second largest city in Abu Dhabi.

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