Often referred to as the ‘Garden City’ of the United Arab Emirates, Al Ain is slowly growing in popularity thanks to its lush landscapes and unbeatable mountainous surroundings. Strategically located near the Omani town of Buraimi, Al Ain is home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites set amidst a more tranquil atmosphere.
Only a 90-minute drive from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Al Ain is often neglected by many tourists that flock to Dubai.
As the city was once a resting point for caravans travelling throughout the region, it has retained much of its former glory and splendour. With an oasis-like setting and the scarcity of tall buildings, Al Ain is the place to come to return to the region’s humble origins.
If you’re looking for a city that is humble, cultural and filled with UNESCO sites, Al Ain is the place to be. To help you plan a trip to this remarkable city, we’ve put together a list of ten of the best things to do when visiting.
Rewind Time on Your Visit to The National Museum
The National Museum in the city is undeniably one of the best museums in the UAE. Not only was this place a former residence of Sheikh Zayed (former president of UAE), but it is also a great place to explore the region’s ancient past. Here you’ll find 4000-year-old artefacts and a superb exhibition of traditional bedroom life.
Feed The Giraffes in Al Ain Zoo
Did you know that the Al Ain Zoo is the largest in the region? With exotic and indigenous species, the zoo was founded in 1968 and is home to lions, giraffes, and many native beats. What’s more, the zoo also has a specific area for birds which is home to the desert eagle own, the emu bird and the blue-nicked ostrich. Be sure to take part in feeding the giraffes and experiencing the world’s largest human-made safari.
Reconnect With Nature in The Al Ain Oasis
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city by escaping to the tranquil oasis which dates back thousands of years and is the largest of its kind in the city. Recorded as the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, here you can walk through shaded pathways and revive your love for nature. It’s so green here that you may forget that you’re in a desert country. With over 100,000 date palm trees and more than 100 different varieties of vegetation, the Oasis is a true wonder of the UAE.
Head Over To Khalifa bin Zayed Street For Lunch
Part of the central district, this is the spot locals and tourists flock to at lunchtime. A bustling neighbourhood, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Street is home to many shops, restaurants and cafes. Close by, you’ll also find the beautiful Al Mudeef Garden which is visited for its relaxing vibes. Head over to the popular Al Dewan for some of the tastiest Iranian grill food. You could also try Bukhara which is famous for its diverse menu which includes Biryani, seafood platters and Indian desserts.
Climb Jebel Hafeet For Some Awesome Views
Whilst Al Ain possesses much in the way of scenic views, no trip to Al Ain is complete without a visit to the spectacular Jebel Hafeet. Standing at a staggering height of 1240 metres, the mountain perfectly surrounds the city of Al Ain and provides wonderful views from above. Drive up the roads leading up to the mountain and be sure to stop along the way to admire the views. As the peak is less than 20 miles from Al Ain, tourists often make it a point to visit the top when in Al Ain.
Relax in The Mubazzarah Park
Whilst there is quite a bit of greenery throughout the city, Mubazzarah tops the list when it comes to picnics, recreational activities and some proper downtime. With a superb location, lush green setting and surrounding rocks, the park is popular thanks to it being at the foot of Jebel Hafeet. With a hot spring and expansive grasslands, it really is a strange yet breathtaking thing to see such a thing in UAE.
Experience Culture in The Camel Market
The camel market may be slightly off the beaten path, yet it seems to lure visitors thanks to its vibrant and energetic atmosphere. Here you can watch locals as they line up their camels and haggle with buyers from across the region. Don’t worry, you don’t have to buy anything! Whilst it is a unique experience, be prepared as it can get pretty noisy as the haggling takes place. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in traditional Arabic culture, the camel market is the place to be. Take pictures, get involved and watch closely as the camels are handed from one owner to another.
Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.
Juber's favourite Quote...
"The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page" [Saint Augustine]