Included in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, this city is the "greenest" on the Arabian Peninsula. Once the most important oasis on the way of caravans from the UAE to Oman, Al Ain (translated from Arabic as "spring") is the cultural and ethnographic center of the emirate, one of the oldest settlements in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of six oases and archaeological sites of Bida Bint Saud, Hafit and Healy - evidence of a settled lifestyle of the inhabitants of the desert. Starting from the Neolithic period, traces of many primitive cultures have been preserved here.
Among the "significant cultural traces", UNESCO noted round stone graves (about 2500 BC), wells and a large number of raw buildings: residential buildings, towers, palaces and administrative buildings. In addition, in Healy is one of the oldest examples of the complex irrigation system "fallage" of the Iron Age. The archaeological finds of Al Ain indicate the transformation of the culture of hunting and gathering into a sedentary lifestyle.
Al Ain Zoo
Located at the foot of Mount Jebel Hafeet, this park covers an area of 900 hectares. Visitors to the zoo will be able to see many animals that live in enclosures that recreate their natural habitat. In the park, visitors will find special lawns for picnics, playgrounds and cafes. You will also be offered a tour on a tourist train.
Al Ain Zoo contains over 4,000 animals. About 30% of the 180 animal species represented here are threatened with extinction. The zoo offers new interactive activities: feeding giraffes, camel riding and the zoo for Elezba cubs.
The zoo is open from 09:00 to 20:00. In the hot summer months (June-September), working hours are from 16:00 to 22:00.
For information: 800 2977, www.awpr.ae
Al Ain State Museum
This museum, located on the edge of the Al Ain oasis, is dedicated to the unique history and culture of the city. The museum is part of the architectural complex of the Sultan bin Zayed Fortress (also known as the Eastern Fortress), which was erected in 1910 and is still in excellent condition.
The museum has three main departments: archaeological, ethnographic and the department of decorative art. The museum’s expositions are devoted to various aspects of the UAE’s life, from Bedouin jewelry, musical instruments and weapons to the reconstruction of the traditional Majlis. Extensive archaeological exhibits present many artifacts from the archaeological gardens of Healy. Therefore, before meeting with Healy, it would be useful to visit the museum.
Some exhibits, such as finds from Gar BintSaud (12 kilometers north of Healy), date back to the first millennium BC. The department of arts and crafts has an extraordinary collection of gifts received by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan during his lifetime. The collection features gold swords, silver daggers and a palm tree made of gold. Signatures on the exhibits are in Arabic and English.
Ticket price: adults - 3 drh, children under 10 years old - 1 drh.
Opening hours: daily from 08:00 to 19:30, except Monday; Friday - from 15:00 to 19:30
For information: 03 764 1595
OASIS AL AIN
Located in the heart of the city, not far from the State Museum, this impressive oasis is full of date gardens, many of which still have good harvests. Cool shady alleys take away from the city noise and heat - here you can relax with the birds singing and the rustle of palm leaves.
The oasis is irrigated using traditional means of irrigation - the fallage, which is 3,000 years old. Fascinating canals carry water to the date palms, allowing them to live and bear fruit in this small paradise in the heart of the city. It spreads over 1,200 hectares (approximately 3,000 acres), more than 147,000 date palm trees of 100 different varieties are planted here. You can enter the oasis territory through any of the eight entrances.
Countless generations of people have been digging and supporting numerous underground passages in order to bring water to their beautiful city and make it green. Now everyone can enjoy the results of their work: admission to the oasis is free.
For information: 03 711 8208
AL-AIN PALACE MUSEUM
This museum is located in the former residence of the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan. At one time, this palace was one of the centers of the socio-political life of the region. The palace was built in 1910, transferred to the museum in 1998. Today the museum has been restored. The exhibits feature many exhibits on the history of the ruling dynasty. Visitors can peer into the apartments and gardens that once belonged to the "Father of the Nation."
The entrance is free. Opening hours: daily from 08:30 to 19:30, except Mondays, on Fridays - from 15:00 to 19:30.
For information: 03 751 7755
FORTRESS "AL JAHILI"
The picturesque fortress of Al Jahili is one of the most famous historical places in the UAE. The fortress was erected in 1891 to protect the city and valuable palm groves.
The fortress once housed the headquarters of scouting Treaty of Oman, the armed forces that defended mountain trails and ensured the peaceful coexistence of local tribes. The fortress also served as the residence of the local governor. Today the fortress is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is open to the public. This Al Ain landmark has been carefully restored and now houses a permanent exhibition dedicated to the British explorer
CENTER OF ARTS "AL KATTARA"
After the reconstruction, the Al Qattara fortress sheltered the magnificent Art Center and gallery. Preserving the ancient facades, the center is an amazing mix of traditional architecture and modern comfort. Within its walls are hundreds of contemporary exhibitions and informative lectures. The center was originally conceived as a place where any resident of the UAE can study and develop art and culture.
The center has a soundproof studio for music and craft lessons, a studio for drawing and painting, pottery equipment, a special room for photography and PC lessons, a spacious calligraphy studio, as well as an exhibition hall, cafe and library. Opening hours: daily, except Friday, from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL GARDEN "HILI"
Just 10 kilometers from Al Ain (on the road to Dubai) are the archaeological gardens of Healy. Being both a public garden and an archaeological site, this place is popular both among tourists and among the local population. On the territory of the archaeological site are the remains of a Bronze Age settlement (2500-2000 BC), which was restored in 1995. It is the source of the most valuable finds in the region, many of which are estimated at more than 4,000 years old. The park has other archaeological sites, but most of it is occupied by a garden with plants, fountains and a playground for children. Healy is located next to the Valley of Fossils, whose age reaches several thousand years. In those days, they were still hidden under the thickness of sea water.
Gathering in one place the diversity and richness of the emirate’s culture, the theme park invites you to take a trip to the past and get acquainted with the traditional way of life in the UAE. In the village you can visit an old cafe, a popular market and two theaters where they give performances, concerts and read poetry.
Opening hours: from Saturday to Thursday - from 09:30 to 13:00 and from 17:00 to 22:00, on Friday - from 16:00 to 22:30.
For information: 03 7655555,
This bazaar is a great opportunity to see camels close by, as well as watch how animals are traded and selected. Here you can take interesting photographs, but be careful and ask for permission first. You may be offered a paid tour of the market, but nothing prevents you from taking a walk on your own. In the livestock section, you will see how goats and sheep are brought by truck, and local sellers bargain furiously with buyers.
MOUNT JEBEL HAFIT
The second highest mountain in the UAE (1163 m). A serpentine of a wide asphalt road leads to its top. From there, a breathtaking view of the desert and oasis opens. Just below the observation deck is the palace of the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.
MUSEUM OF CLASSIC CARS
Combining history and style, the museum presents the history of the evolution of transport in the UAE. It will be interesting for both experienced drivers and those who are interested in car rarities.
For information: 03 623 1323
ENTERTAINMENT CITY "HILI"
This renowned destination for all families for fun and relaxation in Al Ain, is the first most preferred theme park in the bay, which opened in 1985. The newly renewed park has 28 attractions for all ages, an amphitheater with performances for the whole family, a picnic area and games.
Price: 45 drh, for children under 5 years old - free admission
For information: 03 784 5542, www.hilifuncity.ae