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Al Ain

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Weather:

Best Time: October - April Read More

Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Nearest Airport: Al Ain International Airport Check Flights

"The Garden City"

Al Ain Tourism

Al Ain literally translates to 'the spring', and it was once a vital oasis on the caravan route from UAE to Oman. It is a small and sleepy town away from the crowds of the major cities of UAE. It is largely known for its greenery and is a beautiful sight to view in the midst of a desert.

Al Ain is a one and a half-hour drive from Abu Dhabi city and is one of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It can easily be regarded as the cultural site of the UAE with a lot of history and culture broiling in it for a long time. It is home to various picturesque forts and museums, along with the iconic oasis lined with date palm trees, which is the main attraction of Al Ain.

A must-do when in Al Ain is to drive up to the top of Jebel Hafeet, a rocky mountain dominating the city, to experience a breath-taking view of the plains. It is the emirate's highest peak and UAE's second-highest. 

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Currency in Al Ain

There are no currency regulations and foreign currency of almost any denomination is readily exchanged in the UAE. The best exchange rates are generally available at private money changers found throughout the UAE, but especially in the more popular souks and shopping centres. ATMs can be easily found in Al Ain too.

Exchanging Money in Al Ain

You can get your money exchanged at the airport itself to be on the safer side. If you do run out of money, don't worry there are many currency exchange shops all around Al Ain. There are also ATMs available all around the city. Some of the reliable ones are -
  • Habib Exchange Co LLC
  • Al Ansari Exchange
  • Wall Street Exchange
  • Lari Exchange. 

Shopping in Al Ain

Al Ain Mall: Shopping in Al Ain is best experienced in the Al Ain Mall. It also has an ice rink inside the mall. It is the first choice for all shoppers who are visiting Al Ain and even for the locals.  

Al Ain Souk: 'Souk' in Arabic is used for 'market'. Al-Ain Souk is a great place to explore, savour the local atmosphere and practise your bargaining skills.

Souk Al Qaws: It features shops of a practical nature set among unique architecture

Souk Al Bawadi: This souk has more of a heritage feel, with over 50 shops selling traditional items and souvenirs.

Nightlife in Al Ain

Nightlife is not a very common phenomenon in Al Ain. The two places for nightlife in Al Ain are:
  • Horse and Jockey: It is the only pub in town and is a typical sports bar. It serves standard bar food.
  • Bravo Tapas Bar: It is inspired by the Spanish and serves light tapas and drinks.

Daily Budget for Al Ain

If you are on budget travel, then AED 195/day is a good amount to carry. If you are on a mid-range budget, then AED 505/day will suffice. For a luxury budget, AED 1400/day is sufficient for you to experience the luxury that Al Ain has to offer. All these costs include expenses on food, souvenirs, transportation, sight-seeing, etc.

History of Al Ain

Al Ain is considered to be one of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been inhabited for over 4,000 years. These early cultures built "beehive" tombs for their dead and engaged in hunting and gathering in the area. Historically it is believed that Prophet Muhammad's companion Ka`ab Bin Ahbar had come to this region to spread Islam and introduce it to its people. He consequently settled here and died in the oasis.

Another important part of Al Ain's history are the forts that were built in the late 19th or early 20th century to solidify Abu Dhabi's control over the oasis. These networks of fortresses protected the Oases and settlements from bandit attacks.

Language of Al Ain

Arabic is the official language although English is widely spoken and understood in Al Ain. Here are some Arabic phrases and words that you can use while in Al Ain:

Hi - Salam
Good morning - Sabah el kheer
How are you? - Kaifa alhal
Thank you (very much)! - Shukran (jazeelan)
Goodbye - Ma'a asalama

Al Ain Customs

  • There are strict dress codes in many parts of the UAE. Although the men do not have many restrictions, women should, however, refrain from wearing shorts and hot pants. It is not essential to wear a burkha but covering up parts of the body which are considered sensitive in their culture is expected of the tourists. For women, it means covering the shoulders and the knees (and everything in between). Men should be wary of shorts, knee-length is considered modestly acceptable.
  • When it comes to etiquettes, try not to slouch while sitting, with your feet planted directly onto the floor so as not to show the soles of your shoes.
  • Crossing your legs and pointing your feet at someone else in the room is bad etiquette.
  • Men should not shake hands with women unless the woman initiates the handshake.
  • In more formal situations, you may be greeted with the phrase "salaam aleikum", which translates as "peace be upon you". The proper etiquette would be to reply with "aleikum assalaam", which means "and on you peace".
  • Tipping is not compulsory but is a common practice.

Restaurants and Local Food in Al Ain

Traditional dishes contain rice, fish and meat as main ingredients. If you are open to eating all kinds of meat, then here are some of the must-try food items that you should consider eating while visiting Al Ain:
  • Stuffed Camel
  • Al Harees(it is a dish made out of wheat and meat and dished out into a porridge-like consistency)
  • Shawarma
  • Al Machboos (It is made with rice, meat, onion and dried lemon)
  • Hummus ( it is a famous dip made from chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini paste, salt and garlic.)

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Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: After landing at Abu Dhabi international airport, drive to Al Ain which is a 1.5-hour drive. After freshening up, visit the Jabel Hafeet hills in the early evening. Where you will see the hot springs, and drive to the top to watch the sunset. After this, visit the Al Jahili Fort in the night to see this beautiful fort lit up. 

Day 2: Visit the Al Ain Zoo in the morning and spend time until the afternoon exploring the zoo. Head to the Camel racing track after lunch to watch some traditional Arab culture still being practised. 

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