The UAE is one of the most visited destinations but many of its charms still lie undiscovered. Here, we unveil Al Ain, one such charm. Read on to discover this beautiful little city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Many times, leisure travellers booking flights for the UAE don’t think beyond the well known cities in Dubai and the other emirates. For instance, one may be hard pressed to know about Al Ain. Adorned with the epithet, “The Garden City”, due to its soothing greenery, Al Ain is Abu Dhabi’s second largest city. Relatively unspoilt by the increased tourist traffic that the Middle East has witnessed in recent times, Al Ain offers a unique, fresh experience. One also gets to take a closer look at local cultures and traditions.
Reaching This Part of the Middle East
Al Ain has its own international airport, but netting tickets on direct flights to the destination from an international airport may be a bit tricky. Connectivity within the UAE is excellent and it makes more sense to buy air tickets for either Abu Dhabi International Airport or Dubai International Airport. Both are leading airports and there are hourly air conditioned bus services from the airports. In fact, Etihad Airways provides a complimentary coach service to Al Ain from its hub at Abu Dhabi airport.
The Best Hotels in Town
Though tourist traffic is considerably less, the city of Al Ain is home to its fine share of luxury hotels. Arguably, the best option is the InterContinental Resort, closely followed by the establishments managed by Hilton and Mercure. The Hilton is the oldest one in town and features a cosy sports bar and pub with poolside seating. There are a few nice restaurants on the premises as well as nearby that dish out a range of cuisines ranging from Indian to Lebanese. Holidaymakers planning to visit Al Ain are advised to book their rooms beforehand even though accommodation is usually available round the year.
The Leading Attractions of Al Ain
This emirate is home to Jebel Hafeet, the second tallest peak in the UAE and it provides incredible views of the nearby areas. The ideal time to take the trip to the top is at sunset when the rays of the setting sun bathe the ruggedly beautiful landscape in a mellow light. The Mercure Hafeet is perched atop this high point and is a must visit for incredible views during lunch or tea.
The fame of this part of the UAE originated from the oasis that was strategically located along one of the leading caravan routes. Till date, it is a popular attraction and offers serenity as well as shade to weary travellers who visit. No tickets are required for visiting this tourist hotspot and numerous cafés nearby are perfect for relaxation after a hectic day of sightseeing.
Sheikh Zayed Palace which has now been partially converted into a museum is where Sheikh Zayed, the founder of UAE spent his childhood days. This quaint building has several exhibits of this great Emirati, who almost single-handedly changed the politics of warring tribes in the Middle East. Entry tickets to the museum are available at the entrance.