The UAE's cultural heartland has countless places to offer its visitors.
Al Ain is one of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Beneath Al Ain’s modern surface, you will find a past rich with prehistoric settlements and life before oil.
The city of Al Ain, or ‘The Spring,’ known for its abundant access to water and copper, became a vital stop on caravan trade routes to Oman and has provided shelter to many people over the decades.
Its historical and cultural importance is continuously rising to prominence.
Here are five reasons why everyone who loves the history of the UAE must visit Al Ain:
1. Al Jahili Fort
This is one of the UAE’s most historic buildings. It is set in beautifully landscaped gardens, and visitors are encouraged to explore it.
The fort was erected in 1891 to defend the city and protect precious palm groves.
It hosted the former headquarters of the Trucial Oman Scouts, the force that protected the mountain passes and kept the inter-tribal peace.
It also served as a residence for the local governor.
2. Al Ain Oasis
The Al Ain Oasis is in the heart of the city and has been opened as the UAE’s first curated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Spread over 1,200 hectares - nearly 3,000 acres - and containing more than 147,000 date palms of up to 100 different varieties, this impressive oasis is filled with palm plantations, many of which are still working farms.
3. Al Hili Archaeological Park
Al Hili Archaeological Park was developed to highlight the ancient monuments of Al Ain and to make them easily accessible to visitors.
Most of the monuments are of the Umm an-Nar period, which dates from about 2500 BCE to 2000 BCE. Its centerpiece is Hili Grand Tomb, dating back to about 2000 BCE.
In addition to several tombs, there are many Bronze Age forts and settlements surrounding the Hili Archaeological Park.
One of those settlements, Hili 8, revealed evidence for the earliest agriculture in the UAE dating to about 5000 years. Artifacts from these sites can be seen in the Al Ain National Museum.
4. Souq Al Qattara
This site dates back to the mid-20th century and was founded by the late Sheikh Shakhbout bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
A traditional handicrafts market takes place here every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from October to May.
It encourages local families to preserve and promote Abu Dhabi’s heritage through an active production of traditional handicrafts.
5. Jebel Hafeet Tombs
Situated at the Jebel Hafeet mountain, the 5000-year-old Jebel Hafeet tombs mark the beginning of the Bronze Age in the UAE.
Excavations by Danish archaeologists in 1959 found evidence for ceramic vessels and copper artifacts in these tombs.
The latter indicate the importance of maritime trade across the Arabian Gulf.