Located at roughly 130 km from Abu Dhabi is the garden city of Al Ain the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates. Building construction is limited to 7 floors which adds to the continued allure of the city. Al Ain plays a key role in the lives of the Emiratis as most have continued ties with Al Ain with the founder of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed spending the bulk of his youth there.
For over 8,000 years, the region of Al Ain has been home to various civilizations with archaeological sites al Rumalah, Hili and Jabal Hafeet. Bronze Age burial sites at Qattara Oasis have unearthed chlorite jugs and bowls, late Bronze Age short swords and daggers in addition to fine carnelian jewellery. Worldwide acknowledgement of the historic significance of the city prompted Al Ain to become the first World Heritage Site in the UAE recognized by UNESCO.
In 1891, under the leadership of the then ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the grandfather of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan the Al Jahili Fort was built. Initially erected to protect the mountain lanes peace amongst the different tribes, the fort is extremely popular with tourists and locals with many visiting to admire its fine construction.
Al Ain has played host to a number of high profile visitors, Wilfred Thesiger, the noted writer and explorer visited Al Ain in the later 1940’s and the late Queen Elizabeth II stopped over as part of her tour of the Arabian Gulf in 1971.
Al Ain is known for its underground irrigation system the Falaj which has been used for thousands of years to bring water from boreholes to farms and palm trees. Al Ain is also home to seven lush oasis’ the largest being the Al Ain Oasis and the smallest at Al Jahili. The other five are Al Qattara, Al-Mu’taredh, Al Jimi, Al Muwaiji and Hili.
A modern city with a window into the past, Al Ain benefits from a growing economy, quality educational and health facilities and modern infrastructure. The increasing demands of the tourism industry have prompted the construction of a number of plush hotels and resorts. There are also five mega malls in the city catering for residents coming down from Abu Dhabi for the weekend. The Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Mosque is also well worth a visit for its beauty and splendour.
Established in 1968 by the Founder of the Nation the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Al Ain Zoo has continued to grow and thanks to regular investments by the government it continues to develop and evolve. Recent expansions include a large conservation and breading centre, African Safari, World Desert Zoo and the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre.
Al Ain boasts its own international airport but is easily accessible from either Abu Dhabi or Dubai.