DUBAI - Visit an Ancient Oasis

For a fantastic trip into Dubai's past, head to the lovely city of Al Ain, located on the border with Oman, about 100 miles away (or 1.5 hours drive) from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Al Ain, which means "the spring" in Arabic is literally, a garden city in the desert and "where it all started" in this region. Fed by numerous, natural underground water springs, it also has archaeological sites that date back 3,000 years to the Bronze Age. In addition, Al Ain is the birth place of Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the beloved first president of the United Arab Emirates.

As a day trip or a weekend destination, it's fantastic! It offers cooler weather than the coastal cities of Dubai or Abu Dhabi and it has fascinating historical attractions. Some of these attractions are the Al Ain Natural Museum, the Al Ain Palace Museum, several restored ancient mud forts from the 1890's and the amazing Al Ain Oasis in the city center.

I took a day trip to Al Ain City this past month with some friends. While there, I visited the Al Ain Oasis, which is an ancient forest of date palms located in the center of the city irrigated by underground, 1,000 year old filtering methods. This Oasis, is one of seven in the area, in a region that had been settled as far back as 3,000 years ago.

If you visit the Al Ain Oasis, you can get lost wandering through peaceful and shaded paths that cross the oasis. On the other side of the Oasis, you will encounter the ancient mud walls of a beautiful Palace (photos enclosed) - the Al Ain Palace. This palace, is a wall enclosed structure that sits at the edge of the Oasis. It was the former residence of Al Ain rulers and it is now a beautifully restored (free) museum. If you visit, plan to spend a leisurely one hour to see all the period, furnished rooms and the impeccably kept royal gardens.

After visiting the Oasis and the Palace, we stopped at the Al Ain Jahli Fort, just a short drive away from the Palace. This fort is one of several restored forts from the 1890's. A beautiful mud structure that looks more like a giant sand castle with thick walls and circular towers. Today, this fort houses an impressive photo and video collection on the history of the area.

When we visited, we were fortunate enough to catch a session of traditional singing by locals dressed in Omani styled robes and headgear that took place in the inner courtyard of the fort while the sun was setting. A real cultural and historical treat for our foreign eyes and ears.

If you decide to visit the city of Al Ain, google each site we mentioned for more information on this fascinating, historical area. Also, for additional information on the Al Ain Oasis, click on the following link - AAW. : Al Ain City - Oasis in the Desert.

FYI, to visit Al Ain City, you need to either rent a car to drive yourself there or hire a taxi for the day to take you to each site. The ride will take an easy 1.5 hours through through impeccable highways that cross the desert. On the way, you will surely see camels roaming the dunes in a typical desert landscape.



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