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.
I prayed at another masjid in the city center.
I couldn’t figure out the name of this masjid.
Al Ain Rotana Hotel
For Friday lunch I visited the Al Ain Rotana Hotel.
The hotel my look slightly dated but it maintains its charm.
There was a variety of dishes available at their buffet including Arabian, American and Japanese cuisines.
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.
Some sections / farms are in a better condition than others.
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 Ain Palace Museum
This is the former home of the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
The palace was built in 1937.
This is one of the “Majlis” (meeting) rooms in the palace to talk about business.
They even have the Land Rover that the ruler used to drive into the desert with to meet with the bedouin leaders.
There is a room with the portraits and information of all the princes of the UAE.
However I found information was lacking regarding achievements by the locals and further information on their history.
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.
It’s a huge green space with many corners to have semi-private picnics.
The park gets quite busy in the late afternoon when it isn’t so hot.
Al Mutaredh Park
This is another municipal park in Al Ain opposite Jahili fort and Al Jahli Park.
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.
The Mubazzarah Park, Dam and Hot Springs, opened in 2004 lies at the feet of Jebel Hafeet.
That’s a stream from one of the hot springs.
This is a Mubazzarah Dam where some were fishing from.
It’s a popular family venue for picnics and barbecues.
There are camping areas, a number of restaurants and plenty of picnic areas in the park.
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.
It’s a cool location to check out the sunset from.
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:
A Guide to the Masajid of Abu Dhabi
Arabian Nights Village – Desert Adventure in Abu Dhabi
Culinary Delights of Abu Dhabi