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Al Ain – The Garden City

I visited Al Ain on a day trip. Since it was Friday and most of the tourist places only open after 3pm I only left Abu Dhabi at 1030 am. It took approximately 90 minutes to get to Al Ain.

We passed by Twam hospital as we entered into the city around 12pm, a hospital quite familiar to my family from our previous visit in 2000. From what I could see in Al Ain not much has changed in this city unlike Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Masajid of Al Ain

The first place I needed to be at was at a masjid for Friday prayers. Al Ain has more than 63 masajid and 18 musallahs.

I wanted to check out the Grand Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Masjid. This will be one of the largest masajid in the UAE but it will only be completed in 2016.

Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Masjid in Al Ain
I prayed at another masjid in the city center.

al ain mosque in city

I couldn’t figure out the name of this masjid.

al ain mosque inside

Al Ain Rotana Hotel

For Friday lunch I visited the Al Ain Rotana Hotel.

al ain rotana pool

The hotel my look slightly dated but it maintains its charm.

al ain roatana inside

There was a variety of dishes available at their buffet including Arabian, American and Japanese cuisines.

al ain rotana buffet

Al Ain Oasis

Entrance is free into Al Ain’s largest Oasis with over 100 varieties of date palms planted onto 1200 hectares of land. Some sections of the Oasis are privately managed farms. The Oasis utilises a 3000 year old  falaj irrigiation system which taps into underwater wells to sustain life in the Oasis.

al ain oasis entrance

Some sections / farms are in a better condition than others.

al ain oasis green

al ain oasis trees
Jahili Fort

The Jahili fort was built in 1891 to defend the city and protect the palm groves.

It hosts a permanent exhibition for the British travel writer and explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger (also known by the locals as Mubarak Bin London) who made to successful crossings of The Empty Quarter desert (in 1946 and 1947) with 2 young locals.

Al Jahili Fort entrance al ain

prayer sign entrance jahlii fort al ain

thesiger al ain jahili fort

jahili fort zaid

Al Ain Palace Museum

This is the former home of the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

al ain palace museum

The palace was built in 1937.

zaid guard al ain palace museum

This is one of the “Majlis” (meeting) rooms in the palace to talk about business.

meeting mashura room al ain palace museum

They even have the Land Rover that the ruler used to drive into the desert with to meet with the bedouin leaders.

landrover al ain palace museum

There is a room with the portraits and information of all the princes of the UAE.

al ain palace museum nahyan lineage

However I found information was lacking regarding achievements by the locals and further information on their history.

Jahli Park

Al Ain is known as the “Garden City” so I wanted to chck out some of the parks. In the centre of Al Ain next to the central post office and near Jahili fort with a Starbucks coffee on site is Jahli Park.

jahli park al ain

It’s a huge green space with many corners to have semi-private picnics.

al ain jahli parkgreenery

The park gets quite busy in the late afternoon when it isn’t so hot.
jahli park al ain park green

Al Mutaredh Park

This is another municipal park in Al Ain opposite Jahili fort and Al Jahli Park.
al mutaredh park al ain

Shopping and Indoor Entertainment

You can visit the smaller shops downtown or the massive Al Ain Mall which has 350 shops, 60 restaurants, ice rink, bowling, billiards and movies.

Mubazzarah Park

The Mubazzarah Park, Dam and Hot Springs, opened in 2004 lies at the feet of Jebel Hafeet.

mubazzarah park with jebel hafeet

That’s a stream from one of the hot springs.

mubazzarah park spring water al ain

This is a Mubazzarah Dam where some were fishing from.

mubazzarah park dam al ain

It’s  a popular family venue for picnics and barbecues.

mubazzarah park picnic

mubazzarah park l ain green

mubazzarah park jebel hafeet al ain

There are camping areas, a number of restaurants and plenty of picnic areas in the park.

Jebel Hafeet

To witness an amazing sunset take a drive and pull off at one of the stops on the road that leads up Jebel Hafeet. This mountain which rises to 1240m is the tallest in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It lies on the border of Al  Ain and Oman.

jebel hafeet road

It’s a cool location to check out the sunset from.

travpacker sunset jabal hafeet al ain uae

sunset jebel hafeet

There’s plenty of attractions to visit in this laid-back city of Al Ain. Spend at least a night in this city if you’re driving to Oman or if you need a weekend break from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

To learn more about Abu Dhabi check out these articles:

Top Attractions of Abu Dhabi

The Malls of Abu Dhabi

The Souks of Abu Dhabi, UAE

A Guide to the Masajid of Abu Dhabi

Arabian Nights Village – Desert Adventure in Abu Dhabi

Culinary Delights of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Travel Guide for South Africans

About Zaid

Zaid is an intrepid traveler from South Africa that has traveled to all 7 continents. He loves to explore new destinations, experience new activities and go off the beaten path.
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