Al Ain the Garden City of the Gulf - The source of Water "the spring"
Back in History
Al Ain is an oasis city and the second largest in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Having a history dating back to the 4th millennium BC, Sheikh Zayed's vision and commitment has seen Al Ain grow into the modern city and one of the greenest in Arabia it is today. Planned as a garden city, the visitor is taken by the multitude of roundabouts, each offering a unique display of water, landscaping and sculpture. Boulevards are tree lined and there are no high rise buildings. Al Ain is the home of the UAE University, the country's largest museum and the biggest zoo, parks, gardens and guest houses. It is also one of the nations leading agricultural centres and is now serviced by a new international airport.
Archaeological excavations have shown that around 3000 B.C. an advanced civilization existed in this area. It was Sheikh Zayed's dream, when he was the Ruler's Representative in Al Ain, to convert it into a Greenland. His massive forestation program then has today made Al Ain into one of the greenest cities in Arabia. The Ruler's Representative at present is H.H. Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan who carries forward the torch of his illustrious predecessor. Al Ain's scenic beauty, its entertainment park and museum are a major attraction as a holiday resort.
Tourism & Recreation
Al Ain is developing as a tourist destination. It regularly records the highest summer temperatures in the country, but the dry desert air makes it a welcome retreat from the coastal humidity of the larger cities. Many Emirati nationals in Abu Dhabi have holiday houses in the city making it a popular weekend destination for families from the capital city. Its attractions include the Al Ain National Museum, the Al Ain Palace Museum, several restored forts and the Hili archaeological site, dating back to the Bronze Age. Jebel Hafeet, a 1340 metre high mountain dominates the surrounding area. A visit to the mineral springs at the base and a drive to the top of this mountain for sunset is popular. Other attractions include the Al Ain Oasis in the city centre and other oases dotted around the area, cool retreats in the middle of the summer heat, a zoo, amusement park named "Fun City", many well maintained parks, most popular with families in the summer evenings, and a heritage village.
Another popular past time for Emiratis and expatriates alike is to spend time in coffee shops and Shisha Cafes. There are a lot of cafes in Al Ain, ranging in sizes and quality. However, some do maintain a strict Emirati only policy.
Al Ain National Museum
The discovery of a Bronze Age site on the Island of Umm an Nar and the excavations at other archaeological sites in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi some 45 years ago, led Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who was Ruler of Abu Dhabi by then, to establish the museum. His Highness Sheikh Zayed who believes that a country without a past has neither present nor a future became a president of the United Arab Emirates after its foundation in 1971. One of the many steps he has taken was protection of the heritage, which he realised would be soon in danger because of development plans that he had in mind. The museum, the first to have been established in the country, was founded in 1969 and inaugurated by H.H. Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Mohammed al Nahyan in 1971. It had two halls when it was first founded, but only 4 years of its inauguration two more halls were added. The Department of Antiquities and Tourism which is attached to the Diwan of the Rulers Representative in the Eastern Regionis is in charge of running the museum and pays much attention to the updating the exhibits. Archaeologists are still providing the museum with finds of great historical
Al Ain Zoo
Located at the foot of Jebel Hafit, this zoo is the largest in the Middle East. The animal collection comprises both local and exotic species. Local ungulates like Arabian oryx and gazelles are well represented. The site has an aquarium, which also houses penguins, as well as a reptile house and a carnivore house. The birdhouse is not open to the public, but there are many aviaries and pond enclosures with various species of birds. The zoo houses an enormous number of giant tortoises (Geochelone sulcata). Various parts of the zoo are under renovation. There is no educational department or animal guide.
The Eastern Fort is located within the compound of Al Ain Museum. Built in 1910, it is the ancestral home of the ruling family. A small fort, it is surrounded by a wall with four watchtowers. Cannons flank the entrance door. The fort is usually kept locked but is open to visitors during museum visiting hours. No separate entry fee is levied for a visit to the fort.
Near the coffee pot roundabout and Al Ain museum, the old prison gives fine views of this desert city and the oasis. Admittance is hit and miss, but very often the door at the foot of the turret has its padlock off.
Al Ain Oasis
This is a huge shady date plantation in the centre of town near Al Ain Museum and well worth a visit. The plantation is divided into small date farms, with permanent access for farmers’ vehicles and for pedestrians. Two small mosques are sited within the palm groves.