Al Ain

Al Ain City

A one-and-a-half-hour drive from Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city abounds in picturesque forts.

One of the UAE’s most historic buildings, Al Jahili Fort was erected in 1891 to defend the city and protect precious palm groves and is home to a permanent exhibition of the work of British adventurer Sir Wilfred Thesiger and his 1940s crossings of the Rub Al Khali (The Empty Quarter) desert. 

The redeveloped Al Qattara Fort is now home to a brilliant arts center and gallery, offering hundreds of modern exhibits within its walls and with spaces for a variety of workshops – from pottery and painting to music and calligraphy.

UNESCO SITES

Once a vital green oasis on the caravan route from UAE to Oman, Al Ain (meaning ‘The Spring’) is the emirate’s heritage heartland, one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlements, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Classified by UNESCO as ‘cultural sites’, Al Ain world heritage locations include the six Al Ain Oases and the archaeological sites of Bida bint Saud, Hafeet and Hili, all testimonies of sedentary human occupation of a desert region since the Neolithic period, with vestiges of many prehistoric cultures.

JEBEL HAFEET TOMBS

The 5000-year-old Jebel Hafeet tombs mark the beginning of the Bronze Age in the UAE. Excavations by Danish archaeologists in 1959 found evidence for ceramic vessels and copper artefacts in these tombs.

These artefacts indicate the importance of maritime trade across the Arabian Gulf.

The tombs are single-chamber tombs and are made of local unworked or roughly cut stones. These differ from later Umm an-Nar tombs which were made from finely worked blocks that contained the remains of hundreds of people.

HILI ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK

Hili Archaeological Park was developed to highlight the ancient monuments of Al Ain and to make them easily accessible to visitors.

Most of the monuments are of the Umm an-Nar period which dates from about 2500 BCE to 2000 BCE and is named after the island near Abu Dhabi on which remains of this important culture were first discovered.

AL JAHILI FORT

The picturesque Al Jahili Fort is one of the UAE’s most historic buildings. It was erected in 1891 to defend the city and protect precious palm groves.

The former headquarters of the Oman Trucial Scouts, the force that protected the mountain passes and kept inter-tribal peace, it also served as a residence for the local governor.

It is set in beautifully landscaped gardens, and visitors are encouraged to explore it.

AL AIN NATIONAL MUSEUM

The oldest museum in the UAE, Al Ain National Museum was established in 1969 under the guidance of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Charting the history of Al Ain from the Stone Age through to the foundation of the UAE, the museum houses artefacts discovered in the many archaeological sites scattered throughout the region, including flint tools and arrowheads dating to the sixth millennium BCE.

The Museum Collection

Divided into three main sections – Archaeology, Ethnography and Gifts, Al Ain National Museum offers insight into the local traditions and culture that have defined the region.

JEBEL HAFEET

Rising 1,240 meters, Jebel Hafeet is the emirate’s highest peak, and UAE’s second. This towering rocky height, which stands guard over Al Ain and borders Oman, is forged out of craggy limestone that has been weathered over millions of years.

Significant fossil discoveries have been made in the area, which are vital pieces in the jigsaw of the city’s ancient history.

Over 500 ancient burial tombs dating back 5,000 years have been found in the Jebel Hafeet foothills.

You can drive or, if you have the stamina, cycle to the top via a winding highway, which edmunds.com (the automotive information online source) describes as “among the world’s greatest driving roads.” Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views over Al Ain, where you can take a break at the Mercure Jebel Hafeet hotel near the Jebel’s peak.

AL AIN OASIS

In the heart of the city, the Al Ain Oasis has been opened as the UAE’s first curated UNESCO World Heritage site visitor experience.

Spread over 1,200 hectares (nearly 3,000 acres) and containing more than 147,000 date palms of up to 100 different varieties, this impressive oasis is filled with palm plantations, many of which are still working farms.

AL AIN EQUESTRIAN, SHOOTING & GOLF CLUB

In the shadow of the soaring Jebel Hafeet heights, AESGC is our Oasis City’s first 18-hole facility and a fantastic environment in which to absorb the recuperative majesty of the emirate’s second-largest city.

To ensure a consistent challenge, the picturesque, tranquil, Par 71 front nine is compelling, visually scenic, yet a relatively short challenge.

With water in play on 12 holes, this stern but decidedly conquerable test also includes the Arabian Gulf Longest Par 5 – the mammoth, 678-yard Hole 10.

To complement the 18-hole mainstay, there is also a floodlit, nine-hole, par three Academy Course – the ideal spot for a round of night golf.