Just one and a half hour drive from Abu Dhabi is Al Ain, an inland oasis city that promises to enchant you at every step. Reputed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city is home to numerous picturesque vistas of natural beauty, historical delights and wildlife drawing a large number of visitors all throughout the year.
Here’s the list of five beautiful attractions of Al Ain:
The emirate’s highest and the UAE’s second highest peak, Jebel Hafeet stands guard over Al Ain and borders Oman. It is forged out of craggy limestone and is where significant fossil discoveries have been made. You can drive down or cycle to the top via a winding highway which is considered among the world’s greatest driving roads and enjoy the magnificent views of Al Ain from the top. To make the most of this beautiful peak, you can also take a break at the Mercure Jebel Hafeet Hotel nearby.
Al Ain Zoo
Located against the imposing backdrop of Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain Zoo is the region’s largest and most acclaimed zoo offering wonderful adventure opportunities. Also known as “Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort” and “Al Ain Wildlife Park”, the zoo is a true family destination providing entertainment and an array of learning experiences in a natural outdoor environment. You can discover here a wide variety of animals, ranging from endemic mammals like Arabian antelope and Oryx to African gazelles and big cats such as pumas, tigers and lions.
Al Jahili Fort
Established in 1891 around Al-Jahili Oasis, Al Jahili Fort is one of the largest forts in the UAE reflecting a traditional form of Arabian architecture. It was built for the founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed and was further expanded by the British in the 1950s. History lovers can have an ideal time here discovering the battlements and watch towers of the fort and a small exhibit dedicated to British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger who is fondly known as “Mubarak Bin London” in the UAE.
Al Ain Oasis
Capturing nature lovers from all around, Al Ain Oasis is the largest oasis in Al Ain full of palms and mango trees. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011 and provides a unique insight into the region’s inhabitants who began taming the desert 4,000 years ago. Visitors can explore here date plantations containing around 150,000 trees of around 100 varieties. Another interesting thing about the oasis is it is still watered using the 3000-year-old falaj (irrigation channel) system.
Al Ain Palace Museum
Also known as Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum, Al Ain Palace Museum is a place where you can have a glimpse into the everyday life of the people of the UAE at the ethnographic section. The Grand Hili Tomb and finely restored traditional majlis are the major draws of the museum. Besides, you can discover here traditional clothes, musical instruments as well as Bedouin jewellery. There is a large collection pertaining to the ruling family of Sheikh Zayed within the museum; and you can also learn about the ancient past of Al Ain.