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Al Ain

Our journey around the United Arab Emirates included a two night stay in Al Ain. Our accommodation was in the Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet which has 124 rooms and is a unique mountain oasis resort, located at 915 m on Hafeet Mountain just outside the city. Because Hafeet Mountain is an unmissable sight when visiting Al Ain, here, a separate web page may be found to this one which focuses on the city itself. Al Ain was once a vital oasis on the caravan route from the UAE to Oman. The city's cultural sites are on the UNESCO World Heritage list...  

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Al Ain, 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. It is on the border with Oman with border checkpoints located throughout. The dry desert air made it a welcome retreat from the coastal humidity of the larger cities. With a population of 568,221 (2010), it is located approximately 100 miles east of the capital Abu Dhabi and about 75 miles south of Dubai. It is the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates, and it has the country's highest number of Emirati nationals.
Our visit to the city included a look at the camel market. This is the last souk of its kind in the UAE, east of Jebel Hafeet and is an excellent opportunity to see camels up close, and to see and hear traders discussing the price and merits of their animals.
Our hire car was perfect for getting around a large area of the city (on the U.A.E. side) in one day. The city has three major shopping malls, which as well as shopping, are excellent for escaping the heat and getting a bite to eat.
One of the highlights visited in the heart of the city was Al Ain Oasis. It is filled with palm plantations, many of which are still working farms. The cool, shady walkways made for an excellent escape from the heat and noise of the city. Employing a 3,000-year-old falaj irrigation system, Al Ain Oasis features a series of water channels that give life to the palm plantations in this inner-city paradise. Spread over nearly 3,000 acres and containing more than 147,000 date palms of up to 100 different varieties, one can see where generations have tapped into underground wells to keep the beautiful city green. Entry was free. Buggy rides were available for non-walkers.
Other attractions in the city 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. Al Ain also has an International standard go-kart circuit.