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. With a population of 568,221 (2010), it is located approximately 160 km east of the capital Abu Dhabi and about 120 km south of Dubai. Al Ain 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.
Al Ain is located in Abu Dhabi, inland on 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 being roughly 130 kilometers from the other two.
Historically known as Tawam or al Buraimi Oasis, Al Ain became a distinct location following independence in 1971. Al Ain has been inhabited for over 4,000 years, with archaeological sites showing human settlement at Al Hili and Jabel Hafeet. 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 prophet Muhammad, Kaab Bin Ahbar was sent to the region to introduce Islam. 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 met Sheikh Zayed and stayed with him at Al Muwaiji Fort. These network of fortresses served as the trading and slaving posts for the area.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 Oman arrived to recapture the oasis. With British intervention, the Saudi forces withdrew, leaving the oasis back in the hands of Abu Dhabi and 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 Buraimi are descended from these slaves.
Al Ain is home to the main federal university in the UAE, the United Arab Emirates University, and to two campuses of the Higher Colleges of Technology - Al Ain Men's College and Al Ain Women's College. Al Ain is also the home of Horizon International flight academy, Etihad Airways's cadet pilot training center. Private higher education institutions include the Al Ain University of Science and Technology and Abu Dhabi University (Al Ain campus).
Hili Fun City:
Many of Al Ain's private schools, catering mainly to the expatriate population, are located in the Al Manaseer area. They include the Al Ain English Speaking School, Al Dhafra Private School, Al Sanawbar School, Liwa International School, Al Madar International School, Global English School, Emirates Private School, a branch of the International School of Choueifat, and an Institute of Applied Technology campus. Other private schools include the CBSE affiliated school Indian School Al Ain. Al Ain International School (British curriculum),Al Ain Juniors School located in the Sarooj area not far from the Hilton, is in its second year; it first opened for the 2011-2012 school year.
How to reach
Al Ain has its own international airport, but the vast majority of flights arrive at Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Hili Fun City is the largest and most popular theme park in the Gulf Region. Hili Fun City features over forty rides and attractions including a looping roller coaster, the Dynamic Motion Theater, the high flying sky flyer and a host of other rides and slides.
Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium:
An annual festival, which celebrates the culture and history of the UAE is held at Hili Fun City in Al Ain. International variety shows are presented in a carnival atmosphere attracting thousands of visitors from around the region.
Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium opened in 1969 and has since expanded into one of the largest collections of both common and rare animals. Arabian antelope and deer comprise a large area of the zoo. A variety of African antelope, such as oryx , eland , gazzelle and lechwe can be found in the tree shaded paddocks, which offer excellent breeding conditions.
Al Ain National Museum :
The big cathouse features lions, tigers, pumas, black and spotted leopards, and jaguars. Gorilla and monkey compounds, a reptile house and aviaries are other highlights of the Al Ain Zoo.
The Al Ain National Museum is located adjacent to the Al Hosn Palace.
Al Ain Palace Museum:
The Ethnographical Section of the Al Ain National Museum reflects the daily life of the people of the region. Highlights include reconstructed traditional majilis and exhibits offering a glimpse into traditional life. Garments, household items and utensils, as well as gold and silver jewelry reflect the local customs and traditions. The Grand Hili tomb with its rock engravings has been reconstructed.
Al Ain Palace Museum is the former palace of Sheikh Zayed, who eventually became the President of the UAE. The interior has been restored to reflect the palace as it was when the Sheikh was living there. It is also the birthplace of the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
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