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 fort has no admission fees. A lone security guy sits on a chair in the shade.
The fort is open everyday except Monday. The fort is also closed on Friday mornings.
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.
in the northeastern corner is the two-storey building which was used for receptions 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.
In 1951, the fort was the headquarters of the Oman Trucial Scouts that protected the mountain passes and kept inter-tribal peace.
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 round tower consists of four concentric tiers.
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.
I went for a walk outside the fort.
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.
After my sightseeing at the fort I then went to the Al Ain Palace Museum.
The palace is the former home of the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
The palace was built in 1910 and in 1998 the palace became a museum.
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.
It was easy to get lost inside the oasis.
The oasis is known for its underground irrigation system “falaj” which brings water from boreholes to water farms and palm trees.
The falaj irrigation is an ancient system dating back thousands of years.
Other crops grown here are mangoes, oranges, bananas and figs.
Inside the oasis there are remains of an old fortification and an mosque.
Heading back into the city centre, I passed the mosque.
I decided to go to the market.
An assortment of fresh fruit and meat is available here.
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 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.
It was converted to a museum and opened to the public in 1971.
The fort is quite small and is only 35 metres in length on each side.
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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