Al Ain Travel Guide

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Just an hour and a half  to drive from Dubai or Abu Dhabi through rolling sand dunes along a tree-lined freeway takes you to the oasis city of Al Ain (Arabic: 'The Spring').

Al Ain is the UAE's largest inland city, and the second city of the Abu Dhabi Emirate. It is surrounded by magnificent red sand dunes and overlooked by an impressive mountain range.  Al Ain is located on the United Arab Emirates eastern border with Oman, and is at a focal point for journeys from all over the region by excellent roads. A holiday destination for the UAE shiekhs for many years, Al Ain enjoys its own microclimate bringing welcome relief from the humidity of the coast.

The oases have brought people to this area for thousands of years, and there is a rich history as evidenced by the many archaeological excavations. There are numerous restored and ruined forts and settlements to be seen throughout the area. Today, the abundance of water from the oases allows the city to bloom in its numerous parks and gardens. It is often known as the 'Garden City of the Gulf' and brings welcome respite from the desert all around.

Visitors to the city will find a large amount of facilities and attractions, and will find an atmosphere and culture that feels more traditionally Arabic than can be found in the coastal cities. Some of the attractions include an active and thriving Camel Market (not so easy to take one home on the plane though!), ancient forts and even a theme park. No visit would be complete without a trip to the top of Jebel Hafeet mountain, with stunning views across the desert dunes, or relaxing at one of the leavy plantations or parks.

Al Ain also provides a great base from which you can explore the desert, with desert 'safaris', 4WD expeditions and camel trips through the desert all available in the area. Visitors can even hop across the border into Oman without the need for a visa and visit the shops in Al Ain's sister city Al Buraimi. Driving around the city you will also find at every road junction fascinating roundabouts, each of which contain themed sculptures, statues, gardens and fountains.

Al Ain can also boast a large amount of shops, from modern air conditioned malls with prices often lower than those in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, to specialised stores including one of the regions largest gold souks.

There are three 5-star hotels in the city: The Hilton, the Rotana and the Intercontinental, as well as a number of smaller guesthouses.

Not many visitors to the UAE make it this far inland to visit this fascinating city, and as a result you can feel what this country used to be like before the tourist influx - once you tire of the shopping and beaches of the coast it is well worth a couple of days to visit Al Ain.


September 27, 2005 change by mattsharpe (1 point)

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