A tranquil haven in heart of Al Ain

Jasmine Al Kuttab/Abu Dhabi
Filed on January 6, 2017

(Photos by Shihab)

In 2011, The Cultural Sites of Al Ain were the first property in the UAE to be inscribed on Unesco World Heritage list.

The UAE's first Unesco World Heritage Site has opened in the Capital. Al Ain Oasis, which is the largest oasis in Al Ain, provides an enhanced and culturally enriched experience, while revealing UAE's rich culture and history.

Situated in the ancient city, the oasis is one of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlements, dating back to more than 2,000 years.

In 2011, The Cultural Sites of Al Ain were the first property in the UAE to be inscribed on Unesco World Heritage list.

The property comprises of four assemblages: the Bronze-Age Hafit Tombs, the archaeological settlements at Hili, the prehistoric vestiges at Bidaa Bint Saud, and the six lush oases of Al Ain, including Al Ain Oasis.

Covering over 1,200 hectares, the oasis contains more than 147,000 date palm trees, of up to 100 different varieties. Adjacent to Al Ain National Museum to the East and Al Ain Palace Museum to the West, the oasis is known for its unique aflaj irrigation system (ancient water channels) of narrow waterways that supply fresh spring water from the nearby Hajjar Mountains, to nurture the date farms.

The delicate oasis eco-system has played a crucial part in the development of the site, while complex water supplies shape the magnificent landscape. The underground irrigation system and the wells, reveal traditional irrigation methods, bringing water from boreholes to palm trees and water farms, which have been used throughout history.

The historic and cultural importance of the oases was also immensely emphasised by the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who decreed that the heritage of oases should be preserved and developed for future generations.

Emiratis today, are proud to see the awe-inspiring oasis as part of Unesco World Heritage Site, while highlighting that preserving UAE's unique heritage is key.

"Preserving and protecting our environment and heritage is not just something we should be doing for ourselves, but it is for our children and the future generations to come," said Khalifa Al Fahim.

His brother, Mohammed, believes that the oasis will certainly help attract visitors from around the world. "What we have here is important to UAE's civilisation, and it is located in the heart of the city for anyone to see," he said.

"Expats will learn and appreciate our traditional farming methods, as well as the vast landscapes of date palms, which have been so valuable to all Emiratis," Mohammed said.

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