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Al Ain

Al Ain is the capital of the eastern region and Abu Dhabi emirate's second city. Its greenery and the fact that it is the birthplace and childhood home of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan AI Nahyan, the former (and much—loved) ruler of the UAE, gives it special status in the hearts and minds of the people. Today it only takes an hour and a half to drive from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain, but in the days before the discovery of oil, the journey took live days by camel. Most tour companies offer excursions to this fascinating city that straddles the border with the Sultanate of Oman; the UAE side is known as AI Ain and the Oman side as Buraimi. The fortresses around the city, 18 in all, illustrate Al Ain’s importance as part of the ancient trade route from Oman to the Arabian Gulf and there is evidence of the area having been inhabited for at least the last 7,000 years.

Throughout his life, Sheikh Zayed pursued his mich Or Creating an 0asis of greenery in the desert by initiating - a series of greening projects. As a result, Al Ain’s seven natural oases are HOW surrounded by tree—lineo Streets and beautiful urban parks. The main AI Ain Oasis is home { to palm plantations, many of which are working farms. The palms provide welcome shade and a haven from the noise and bustle of the city. Most of the farms still use the ancient falaj system of irrigation, which taps into underground water. If you do go exploring in the palm plantations, it is best to stick to the paved areas that weave between the walled-in farms. The Old Prison is also worth a visit simply for the stunning view of the surrounding town and oasis.

The structure is a lon square turret in the centre of a gravel courtyard, surrounded by. high walls. Unfortunately admittance is a bit hit and miss but if you visit as part of a tour you should be able to get in. _ Al Ain's unique archeological heritage and history is displayed at Al Ain Museum on the edge of the main Al Ain Oasis The museum has an interesting collection of photographs along with bedouin jewellry musical instruments and reconstruction of a traditional majlis. The archaeological section houses many of the finds from nearby Hili Gardens and it's helpful to visit the museum before heading out to the gardens.The gift section houses an unusual collection of items that Sheikh Zayed received during his lifetime, including golden swords and a golden palm tree. Al Ain is home to the last camel market of its kind in the UAE. The market is a great place to get up close and personal with the ‘ships of the deserti It is always busy and the exciting atmosphere builds up as traders discuss the value of each animaI.You'll be able to get some great pictures to take home with you, but remember to ask permission before clicking. Buraimi is part ofthe Sultanate ofOman but you won't need a visa to enter. The Buraimi Souk buzzes with local colour and atmosphere, and you'|| find a few souvenir shops selling pottery, silver jewellery and woven carpets. The Al Hilli Fort, behind the souk, is a good- starting point for exploring the Buraimi Oasis. TheAl Khandaq Fort, located in the town of Hamasa in Buraimi is thought to be around 400 years old (although it has been restored). There are amazing views from here

Al Ain's biggest attraction Jebel Hafeez at 1180


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