Long Eid Al Fitr break: Top 5 places to visit in Al Ain

Here’s a list of places, including the UAE’s first Unesco World Heritage Sites, adventure parks, forts, oases and more



Published: Sat 30 Apr 2022, 4:46 PM

Al Ain, the eastern region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, is home to some of the most unique tourist attractions and natural wonders.

Over the years, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has been promoting and preserving the culture and heritage in the region for visitors to explore. The long Eid holidays offer an opportunity for community members to visit these historic and archaeological sites in the ‘Garden City’, which is a 90-minute drive from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Here’s a list of places, including the UAE’s first Unesco World Heritage Sites, adventure parks, forts, oases and more.

1. Al Ain Oasis

A 4,000-year-old settlement, Al Ain Oasis is the UAE’s first Unesco World Heritage Sites. Covering 1,200 hectares, it has more than 147,000 date palms and fruit trees, which are nourished by the traditional falaj – the ancient irrigation system. Located in the centre of Al Ain, the place provides a unique insight into the history of the region’s inhabitants. Visitors can immerse themselves in the surroundings through strolls or bike rides. And for those looking for further insight, there is the Eco-Centre, where interactive exhibits show how the falaj system works and how the local eco system is being preserved.

2. Jebel Hafit Desert Park

The desert park is a vital component of the World Heritage Site of Al Ain. The park occupies a nine-km stretch at the base of Jebel Hafit mountain – Abu Dhabi’s tallest peak, and offers all types of camping options: basic, fully serviced and furnished bubble glamping tents to sleep under the stars. Visitors can explore the beautiful landscapes by foot, bike, horse or camel and discover archaeological and historical remains that tell stories of this area’s ancient habitation. The archaeological wonders include remains from the Neolithic period from 8,000 years ago and the 5,000-year-old Jebel Hafit Tombs.

3. Al Ain Zoo

The first zoo of-its-kind in the Middle East, it offers exciting experiences like giraffe feeding, camel riding and safari. The region’s largest and most-acclaimed zoo is home to more than 4,000 indigenous and exotic animal species, including Arabian oryx, rhinos, hippos, tigers and lions. During the holidays until May 6, activities include a traditional food market, birds of prey show and visitors will get to hear wonderful tales about parrots, gorillas, various Asian, African and Arabian animals, and the reptile encounter. Also, there is a fun-educational facility to visit the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre.

4. Qasr Al Muwaiji

Qasr Al Muwaiji is one of historic Al Ain’s most iconic heritage sites. It was home to generations of the ruling Al Nahyan family. Built in the early 20th century, the fort later became the home and the administrative base for the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, when he became the Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain in 1946. It was the birthplace of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 1948. Qasr Al Muwaiji’s picturesque structure is a fine example of early 20th-century mud-brick architecture and a great place to explore the history of the city.

5. Al Jahili Fort

One of the largest forts in the UAE and a focal point of culture and heritage, the structure was built in the 1890s as home to members of the ruling Al Nahyan family. The original fort consisted of a square fortified enclosure and a distinctive four-storey circular tower. The fort houses a permanent exhibition devoted to Sir Wilfred Thesiger, the intrepid explorer, travel writer and photographer who crossed the world’s largest sand mass, the Empty Quarter twice in the 1940s.

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