Today I was going to visit the city of Al Ain located 120 kms south of Dubai. The fourth largest city in the UAE. Al Ain is known as the Garden City due to it greenery nature and it oasis. Al Ain is also the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates.
The minibus from Dubai to Al Ain was 20 AED (£3.75) and the journey took one and half hours to two hours.
I was keen to visit the cultural sights that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al Ain. The citation of the Al Ain entry in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list describes Al Ain as having multiple locations for it citation. That being the examples of construction, agricultural use and water management in the desert since protohistory.
The designated Al Ain World Heritage Site is a serial nomination of 17 locations.
First on my sightseeing was the Al Jahili fort.
The Al Jahili fort approximately 3kms from Al Ain city centre.
The fort has no admission fees. A lone security guy sits on a chair in the shade.
Above the main entrance to the fort.
The fort is open everyday except Monday. The fort is also closed on Friday mornings.
The tower above the main entrance.
At the time of my visit, there was no other visitors and except for the lone security officer sitting on chair, I had the fort all to myself.
The main courtyard of the fort.
in the northeastern corner is the two-storey building which was used for receptions and guests of the Sheikh.
Buildings used for reception and guests of the Sheikh.
The Al Jahili fort is one if the UAE most historic buildings. It was constructed in 1891 to defend the city and protect it palm groves.
One of the towers of the fort.
In 1951, the fort was the headquarters of the Oman Trucial Scouts that protected the mountain passes and kept inter-tribal peace.
Inside the corridors of the fort.
The scouts were renamed the Union Defence Force (UDF) upon the formation of the Unitied Arab Emirates in 1971.
In the southwestern corner of the fort is the round tower.
The southwestern round tower.
The round tower consists of four concentric tiers.
The steps to the round tower.
Climbing the round tower.
Me posing in the round tower.
Me suffering in the 39 degrees heat.
The walls on the round tower.
Me posing under the round tower.
In the 1980’s the fort was handed over to the Department of Antiquities and Tourism which carried out restoration work to restore the fort to it original status.
Dates farmed inside the fort.
The bags protect the dates from beasties.
I went for a walk outside the fort.
One of the smaller towers of the fort.
Me posing in front of one of the towers.
Another restoration phase in 2007-8 by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) saw the fort houses a Visitor Information Centre with a shop and cafe, facilities for outdoor cultural events and wider exhibition spaces.
The round tower as seen from outside the fort.
Me posing in front of the round tower.
The round tower as seen from the Al Ain garden park.
After my sightseeing at the fort I then went to the Al Ain Palace Museum.
The main garden in the courtyard of the palace.
The palace is the former home of the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
One of the wall towers of the palace.
The palace was built in 1910 and in 1998 the palace became a museum.
Inside one of the reception rooms.
The palace has no admission fees.
The Al Ain Oasis is the largest oasis in Al Ain. The oasis is 3000 acres and contains over 147,000 dates palms.
Pathways inside the oasis.
It was easy to get lost inside the oasis.
One of the farms inside the oasis.
The oasis is known for its underground irrigation system “falaj” which brings water from boreholes to water farms and palm trees.
Dates growing in one of the palm plantations.
The falaj irrigation is an ancient system dating back thousands of years.
As with the fort, the dates were bagged.
Other crops grown here are mangoes, oranges, bananas and figs.
Dates is exported around the world from here.
Inside the oasis there are remains of an old fortification and an mosque.
Palm tree silhouette.
Heading back into the city centre, I passed the mosque.
The main mosque in Al Ain.
Al Ain Mosque silhouette.
I decided to go to the market.
Inside the market.
An assortment of fresh fruit and meat is available here.
Fresh fruit from the market.
Next on my sightseeing was to visit the Al Ain National museum.
Al Ain National museum is the oldest museum in the UAE. Opened in 1971, the museum features displays on the city’s exclusive heritage and history.
The museum is housed in the same compound as the Sultan Bin Zayed Fort (also known as the Eastern Fort) which was built in 1910 and is well conserved.
The museum is 3 AED (£0.60) admission. As with other attractions in Al Ain, the museum is close on Mondays and closed on Friday mornings.
The fort was built in 1910.
The Eastern fort was constructed a 100 years ago by Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan and served as a residence to his family since then and until he succeeded as the ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1922.
The main entrance to the fort.
It was converted to a museum and opened to the public in 1971.
One of the cannons at the entrance of the fort.
The fort is quite small and is only 35 metres in length on each side.
One of the towers.
After my sightseeing, it was time to head back to Dubai and my luxury *ahem* hotel.
Tomorrow, I was going to go scuba diving on the east coast of UAE and Oman.
To be continued….
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