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Al Ain
 

Al Ain (literally The Eye or The Spring) is the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With a population of 421,948 (2005 estimate), Al Ain is dubbed the Garden City of the UAE. It is located in Abu Dhabi (emirate), directly adjacent to the border with Oman. The freeways connecting Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai form a geographic triangle in the center of the country, each city roughly 150 kilometers from the other two.

History

The area, historically known as the Buraimi Oasis, has been continuously inhabited for more than four thousand years and Al Ain is considered central to the cultural heritage of the country. It is the birthplace of Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates. Today the name Buraimi refers to the Omani town whose urban area merges with that of Al Ain. Until September 14, 2006, Al Ain and Buraimi enjoyed an open border and functioned as one. On September 14th, the UAE government closed the open border and required all individuals to clear immigrations both entering and leaving the UAE. Gulf nationals cross the border at the main crossing whereas, expats are required to cross at either the Hili or "Intercontinental" border crossings.

Al Ain

Geography

Al Ain is located in the Eastern region of Abu Dhabi Emirate just south of Dubai and west of Abu Dhabi. The Eastern region apporixametly covers an area of 13,100 km². Oman lies to the east, Dubai and Sharjah to the north, Abu Dhabi to the west and the Empty Quarter desert and Saudi Arabia to the south. The topography of Al Ain unique and varies as you travel to the east. Jebel Hafeet (Hafeet mountain) is considered one of the monuments of Al Ain and lie just to the southeast and rises up to 1,300 meters in elevation. Sand dunes that vary in texture and are tinged red with iron oxide lie to the north and east of Al Ain.

Tourism & Recreation

Al Ain is developing as a tourist destination. It regularly records the highest summer temperatures in the country, but the dry desert air makes it a welcome retreat from the coastal humidity of the larger cities. Many Emirati nationals in Abu Dhabi have holiday houses in the city making it a popular weekend destination for families from the capital city. Its attractions include the Al Ain National Museum, the Al Ain Palace Museum, several restored forts and the Hili archaeological site, dating back to the Bronze Age. Jebel Hafeet, a 1340 metre high mountain dominates the surrounding area. A visit to the mineral springs at the base and a drive to the top of this mountain for sunset is popular. Other attractions include the Al Ain Oasis in the city centre and other oases dotted around the area, cool retreats in the middle of the summer heat, a zoo, amusement park named "Fun City", many well maintained parks, most popular with families in the summer evenings, and a heritage village. Another tourist attraction is Central Garden, it a major tourist attraction.

The city is home to the successful association football (soccer) club, Al Ain FC.

Another popular past time for Emiratis and expatriates alike is to spend time in coffee shops and Shisha Cafes. There are a lot of cafes in Al Ain, ranging in sizes and quality.

Oases

Known for its underground irrigation system "falaj" which is used to bring water from boreholes to irrigate and water farms and palm trees. Falaj is an ancient irrigation system that dates back thousands of years ago and is used widely in Oman, UAE, China, Iran and many other countries. Al Ain has 7 oases; the largest is Al Ain Oasis which is located just south of town center and the smallest is Al Jahili oasis. The rest are: Qattara, Al Mutaredh, Al Jimi, Al Muaiji, and Hili.

 

Commerce and Industry

Al Ain is an important services centre for a wide area extending into Oman. There are two major shopping centres, Al Ain Mall and Al Jimi Mall, as well as traditional souks for fruit & vegetables and livestock. Industry is growing, but still small scale, and includes the Coca Cola bottling plant and a cement works. Service industries such as car sales, mechanics and other artisans are located in the area known as Sanaiya. Social and governmental infrastructure includes United Arab Emirates University, Higher Colleges of Technology, well-equipped medical facilities, including the teaching hospital at Tawam, military training areas and Al Ain International Airport.

Al Ain

Culture and the Arts

Al Ain is a cultural retreat for residents of Dubai and Abu Dhabi cities. It is home to a major festival of classical music.