Al Ain, Garden City Al Ain Travel Guide

Al Ain UAE The Garden City Travel Guide

Al Ain

Al Ain is known as the "garden city", and while it's absolutely nothing like Kent in England or New Jersey in the States, the dry desert surroundings and Middle Eastern flavour make the lushness of Al Ain's greenery even more remarkable. The plant life is down to a massive forestation programme rather than part of the indigenous landscape, but it still means the welcome shade of trees.

The city, to be found in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, is about 100 miles away from Abu Dhabi the city, and roughly the same distance from Dubai. To get there, minibuses go from the main bus station in Bur Dubai. So do taxis, which cost between roughly a fiver and twenty odd quid. (That's between nine and 40 odd US dollars.) Once you're there, there is a very cheap local bus system, but visitors tend to use taxis, as city centre rides won't set you back much.

As with Sharjah, the minibus that takes you there won't take you back, so you'll have to get a taxi. Be sure to haggle a little over the price it may well secure you a discount.

When you're there, one of the main attractions is the natural history museum, in the same compound as Eastern Fort, to be found on Sultan bin Zayed Street. Exhibits are informative about the area's archaeology, as well as having features on subjects such as Bedouin life and weapons. Admission is for a token fee.

There is another fort in the area too; Jahili Fort is near the public gardens by the Rotana Hotel. You can't actually enter the fort itself, but for a small fee you can wander round the gardens and admire the architecture from outside.

Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium are also worth a look. The site, to the south of the town, occupies around 450 hectares, and there is a huge range of species. It has done vital work in preserving rare and endangered species, to the point that some like the Arabian oryx no longer count as rare species! Admission is reasonably priced.

As for food, you will find a good choice of reasonably priced eateries in Al Ain. Choose from Chinese, Filipino, Lebanese and other cuisines.