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Info Al Ain
Al Ain (literally The Spring), also known as the Garden City due to its greenery, is the second largest city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates. With a population of 650,000 (2013), it is located approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) east of the capital Abu Dhabi and about 120 kilometres (75 mi) south of Dubai. Al-`Ain is the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates, and has the highest proportion of Emirati nationals (30.8%).
Al-`Ain is located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, inland on the border with Oman. The freeways connecting Al-`Ain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai form a geographic triangle in the country, each city being roughly 130 kilometres (81 mi) from the other two.
|TIME ZONE :||UAE Standard Time (UTC+4)|
|AREA :||13,100 km2 (5,100 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||292 m (958 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||24°12′27″N 55°44′41″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 72%|
• Female: 28%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :|
Al-`Ain is developing as a tourist destination. 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 Park site, dating back to the Bronze Age.Jebel Hafeet, a 1340-metre-high mountain, dominates the surrounding area. It is popular to visit to the mineral springs at the base and to drive to the mountaintop at sunset. Other attractions include the Al Ain Oasis in the city centre, other oases dotted around the area — all cool retreats in the middle of the summer heat — Al Ain Zoo, an amusement park named "Hili Fun City", many well-maintained parks popular with families in the summer evenings, and a heritage village. Opened in 2012, Wadi Adventure is located near Jebel Hafeet and provides a range of water-based activities including surfing, kayaking and rafting.
On top of Jabel Hafeet is the Mercure Hotel.
Al-`Ain has three major malls — Al Ain Mall in the town centre, Al-Jimi Mall in the Al-Jimi district, and Bawadi Mall located in the Al-Khrair District. Most commercial activity is centred in and around town centre.
Another popular pastime for Emiratis and expatriates alike is spending time in coffee shops and shisha cafes. There are many Café's in Al-`Ain, ranging in size and quality.
Al-`Ain also has an International standard go-kart circuit. Al-`Ain Raceway was selected to host the 2007 Rotax Max World Karting Finals, an event which saw 220 drivers from over 55 different countries compete for the Karting world title. Al-`Ain Raceway opened to the general public in May 2008 and proves a popular activity for local Emiratis and tourists alike. It was announced in late 2010 that the 2011 Rotax Max World Karting Finals will be held at Al-`Ain Raceway, this will bring nearly 1000 tourists to the small garden city.
Like the rest of the UAE, Al-`Ain has strict laws governing the consumption and distribution of alcohol. Five facilities in the city currently serve alcohol, Four of which are hotels. The Al-`Ain Rotana, Hilton, Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet and Danat Al-`Ain Resort, hotels all have pubs, bars, or night clubs. In addition to the hotels, the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club in Al-Maqam also serves alcohol.
Currently, there are only four locations that sell alcohol for private use —Spinneys near Al-Jimi District, an outlet to the left of the Hilton hotel (next to the hotel's staff quarters), High Spirits Bottle Shop behind Lulu Hypermarket Sana`iya and the North Africa Market in Sanaiya.
The city has two English-language radio stations — 100.1 Star FM, which plays English-speaking hits alternating with Arabic-speaking hits, and 105.2 Abu Dhabi Classic FM, which plays classical music.
Historically a part of Ṫawam or Al Buraimi Oasis. Al-`Ain has been inhabited for over 4,000 years, with archaeological sites showing human settlement at Al-Hili and Jabel Ḥafeeṫ. These early cultures built "beehive" tombs for their dead and engaged in hunting and gathering in the area. The oasis provided water for early farms until the modern age.
A companion of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, Ka`ab Bin Ahbar, was reportedly sent to the region to introduce Islam to the people. He settled and died in the oasis.
The forts currently in Al-`Ain were built in the late 19th or early 20th century to solidify Abu Dhabi's control over the oasis. Wilfred Thesiger visited Al-`Ain in the late 1940s during his travels across the Empty Quarter. He metSheikh Zayed and stayed with him at Al-Muwaiji Fort. This network of fortresses protected the Oases and settlements from bandits attacks.
In 1952 Saudi Arabia sent raiders to capture Al-`Ain's fortresses and incorporate the oasis into the Saudi kingdom. Forces from the Trucial Oman Scouts, as well as the army of Muscat-Oman, arrived to recapture the oasis. With British intervention, the Saudi forces surrendered, leaving the oasis back in the hands of Abu Dhabi and Muscat-Oman.
Prior to independence, Al-`Ain was part of the Arabian slave trade network that extended from east Africa into the Persian Gulf. In the 1960s, Sheikh Zayed abolished formal slavery. Today, some families in both Al-`Ain and Al-Buraimi are descended from these slaves.
In 1971 Queen Elizabeth II visited the Hilton Hotel in the area, still in use, during her tour of the Persian Gulf. Following independence in 1971, Al-`Ain experienced rapid growth and investment as part of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, quickly becoming larger and more successful than `Oman's Al-Buraimi. In 1972 `Oman and Abu Dhabi agreed on the final borders to divide Al-Buraimi and Al-`Ain. Until Sheikh Zayed's death in 2004, Al-`Ain's municipal code forbade construction of buildings over four storeys, with the exceptions of the Hilton, Danat Al Ain Resort, and Rotana hotels.
In the 1990s, a serious uprising occurred among the labourers of the industrial district of Al-`Ain, Aṣ-Ṣana`iya. This uprising was suppressed by the UAE army and local police forces. All the labourers involved were interned and deported.
Until 2006, Al-Buraimi and Al-`Ain shared an open border. This border was closed in November 2006, and passport controls were imposed.
In Al-`Ain, the mean annual rainfall is 96 mm and the average relative humidity is 60% (United Arab Emirates University, 1993). Low humidity in Al-`Ain, particularly during the summers, makes it a popular destination for many people at that time of year. Boer (1997) classified the UAE climate as hyper-arid and divided it into four climatic regions: the coastal zone along the Persian Gulf, the mountain areas northeast of UAE, the gravel plains around Al-`Ain area, and the central and southern sand desert. More rainfall and lower temperatures occur in the northeast than in the southern and western regions.
Climate data for Al Ain
|Average high °C (°F)||24.3|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||18.7|
|Average low °C (°F)||13.1|
Al-Ain is located in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi Emirate just south of Dubai and east of Abu Dhabi. The Eastern region covers an area of approximately 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 is unique and varies as one travel to the east. Jebel Hafeet (Hafeet mountain) is considered one of the monuments of Al-`Ain, lying just to the southeast and rising to 1,300 m in elevation. Sand dunes of varying texture that are tinged red with iron oxide lie to the north and east of Al-Ain.
Al-`Ain is an important services centre for a wide area extending into `Oman. There are three major shopping centres, Al Ain Mall, Al Jimi Mall and Al Bawadi Mall (opened in 2009 in the Al Khrair area) as well as traditional souqs for fruit and vegetables and livestock. Industry is growing, but is still on a small scale, and includes the Coca Cola bottling plant and the Al-`Ain Portland Cement Works. The water in Al-`Ain is very good. Service industries such as car sales, mechanics and other artisans are located in the area known as Sanaiya and Pattan Market. Social and governmental infrastructure includes United Arab Emirates University,Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi University (Al-`Ain campus), well-equipped medical facilities including the teaching hospital at Tawam, military training areas and Al Ain International Airport.
- Al Jimi
- Al Qattara
- Al Muaiji
- Al Mutaredh
- Al Towayya
- Al Foah
- Al Masoudi
- Al Khrair
- Al Sarooj
- Falaj Hazza
- Al Maqam
- Sh'ab Al Ashkher
- Al Khalidiya
- sAl Shoaibah
- Al Bateen
- Al Agabiyya
- Al Khabisi
- Al Markhaniya
- Al Niyadat
- Al Kuwaitat
- Al Jahli
- Al Salamat
- Al Yahar= Mezyad
- Al Dhahir
- Um Ghafah
- Oud Al Tobah
- Al Hiyar
- Al Sad
- Al Khazna
- Al Arad
- Al Dhahrah
- Al Manaseer
- Al Basrah
- Al Wagan
- Al Qoua
Prices in Al Ain
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$28.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$61.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.80|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$9.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$10.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.09|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.80|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$2.70|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$55.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$50.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$78.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.55|
Transportation - Get In
Al Ain has its own international airport, but the vast majority of flights arrive at Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
The easiest way to reach Al Ain is by bus from Abu Dhabi (140 km) and Dubai (100 km). Buses depart hourly from Abu Dhabi bus station and the Dubai bus station, respectively. Arriving at Al Ain bus station. It takes 2 h (Dhs. 10 from Abu Dhabi, Dhs. 15 from Dubai). Buses are clean with air conditioning and stop halfway for 10 min.
From Dubai the bus station to go to Al Ain is the "Al Ghubaiba Bus Station".
From Dubai, there are mini buses available from Bur Dubai taxi station. Clean semi luxury mini vans charges Dhs. 20 for the 90 min journey.
Transportation - Get Around
Taxis are very easy to find and cheap (Dhs. 2.50 initially in the older, brown taxis and Dhs. 1.00/km thereafter; silver taxis are more expensive, but have better air conditioning and, usually, English speaking drivers). Women traveling alone should sit in the back and not make conversation with the cabbies, as drivers may misinterpret friendliness.
There is also a local bus service.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- Arabia Center. a ladies' speciality shopping center by ENB GROUP, located in Jabal Roundabout. A special attraction for Arabic traditional wear & western outfits for ladies and their kids.
Al Ain has three shopping malls:
- Al Ain Mall (Close to the town centre). the largest mall in Al Ain. It contains an ice-skating rink and children's play areas as well as a cinema showing new releases.
- Al Jimi Mall (in the Jimi Area, close to the Municipality building (Baladiya in Arabic)). The building was originally built as a vegetable and meat market, but was renovated and revamped into a spectacular shopping mall. It hasCarrefour, the large supermarket where you would get everything on your shopping list.
- Al Bawadi Mall. the newest mall, a 15 min drive past the Hilton, and houses lots of familiar names: Marks and Spencer; Boots; New Look; Top Shop as well as a second Carrefour, an Ace Hardware and Magrudy's bookshop. The Gold Souk has been relocated here, and the camel market is near.
Al Ain also has various shopping areas, the Town Centre Area (Main Street,Khalifa Street, and Oud At Touba Street). Vendors sell everything from cheaply-made toys and souvenirs to spices, Arabian incense and gold.
- Even Black. (ladies traditional wear) 4 showrooms in Al Ain. With maximum designs for Abhaya, all showrooms are designed as Arabic Studios is an another attraction.
Al Ain is host to a wide range of palates and ethnicities when it comes to cuisine. Lebanese/Arabic food is usually cheapest; hotel restaurants usually the most expensive. The city is home to all manner of fast food like McDonald's and Hardees, but there is little for most people to eat at those places. Some of the best and cheapest food in the city can be found at its many Indian restaurants. Portions are almost always generous, prices low, and quality excellent. Chinese food is at its best in the many Chinese restaurants. Residents find Al Ain's selection to be more than adequate.
Most restaurants and cafes deliver to anywhere in the city. Delivery is quick and reliable and rarely costs extra.
Vegetarians will find the city's selection of meals very satisfying. Vegetable and bean-heavy native dishes, the array of splendid pure vegetarian Indian cuisine, and the ready availability of fresh salads make eating in Al Ain a stress-free experience. Strict vegans may have a little difficulty communicating their precise demands, but most places offer vegan dishes and are always willing to accommodate a paying customer.
Most of the good restaurants are concentrated on Khalifa Street.
The main street in Mauteredh (Mathraz, according to some) has a large number of cafeterias serving Lebanese to Indian food.
Coffe & Drink
Alcohol is available in the main hotel restaurants. However, it is advised to drink in moderation as in common with the rest of the UAE; it is illegal to be intoxicated in public places.
Currently, there are only four locations that sell alcohol for private use — Spinneys near Al-Jimi District, an outlet to the left of the Hilton hotel (next to the hotel's staff quarters), High Spirits Bottle Shop behind Lulu Hypermarket Sana`iya and the North Africa Market in Sanaiya.
Sights & Landmarks
Al Ain has several sites that would be of interest to tourists:
Jebel Hafeet. The second tallest mountain in the United Arab Emirates (1350 m), Jebel Hafeet is surrounded by flat plains on three sides, which afford spectacular views, especially at sunset. The road to the top winds around hairpin turns for 12 km. There are three rest points for viewing, and then at the very top is a large parking area with a cafeteria and 360 degree view of the entire area. Take care on the road as some drivers enjoy the excitement of the twists and turns too much. There is a hotel (Mecure Hafeet) at the top, as well as Green Mubazara Park and Ain Al Fada resorts at the bottom. Free.
Camel Souq, Near Meyzad border crossing. Daylight. Recenctly relocated to the Meyzad area, about 5 km south of Al Ain, near the Oman border, the camel souq is open every day. Hundreds of camels are brought together to buy and sell. Dress conservatively. The traders are very friendly, especially to children. The non-Gulf Arab traders may ask for money ("baksheesh") for letting children sit on a camel. Many traders will pick up children so that they can be photographed. Free.
Al Ain Museum and Fort. Free. Located on Al Ain Street (or "Main Street" as the locals call it), this fort was built to protect the oasis from raiders. It was used as the headquarters for Sheikh Zayed when he was the ruler of the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi, prior to his ascending to Sheikh of Abu Dhabi itself. The museum recreates the way people of the region lived before the founding of the UAE.
Al Ain Oasis. The biggest of several oasises in region, the oasis is made up of thousands of date palms. The oasis is located between the main souq area downtown and Al Ain street. Narrow roads run through the oasis, so you can drive through it, or you can walk. A small restaurant/coffee shop (currently closed) is located in the middle. Walking in the oasis is especially nice when the sun is not directly overhead, as the palm trees offer cooling shade. Free.
Things to do
There is a large zoo and safari park in Al Ain that is quite popular with visiting tourists.