Al Ain

Travel Guide Middle East United Arab Emirates Al Ain

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Introduction

Al Ain is the garden city of United Arab Emirates. This oasis town is next to, and virtually merged with, the Omani town of Buraimi. The "Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas)" have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

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Sights and Activities

  • Jebel Hafeet. The second tallest mountain in the United Arab Emirates (1350 m), Jebel Hafeet is surrounded by flat plains on three sides, which afford spectacular views, especially at sunset. The road to the top winds around hairpin turns for 12 km. There are three rest points for viewing, and then at the very top is a large parking area with a cafeteria and 360-degree view of the entire area. Take care on the road as some drivers enjoy the excitement of the twists and turns too much. There is a hotel (Mecure Hafeet) at the top, as well as Green Mubazara Park and Ain Al Fada resorts at the bottom. Free.
  • Camel Souq, Near Meyzad border crossing. Daylight. In the Meyzad area, about 5 km south of Al Ain, near the Oman border, the camel souq is open every day. Hundreds of camels are brought together to buy and sell. Dress conservatively. The traders are very friendly, especially to children. The non-Gulf Arab traders may ask for money ("baksheesh") for letting children sit on a camel. Many traders will pick up children so that they can be photographed. Free.
  • Al Ain Museum and Fort. Free. On Al Ain Street (or "Main Street" as the locals call it), this fort was built to protect the oasis from raiders. It was used as the headquarters for Sheikh Zayed when he was the ruler of the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi, prior to his ascending to Sheikh of Abu Dhabi itself. The museum recreates the way people of the region lived before the founding of the UAE.
  • Al Ain Oasis. The biggest of several oasises in region, the oasis is made up of thousands of date palms. The oasis sits between the main souq area downtown and Al Ain street. Narrow roads run through the oasis, so you can drive through it, or you can walk. Walking in the oasis is especially nice when the sun is not directly overhead, as the palm trees offer cooling shade. Free.

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Getting There

By Plane

Al Ain International Airport (AAN IATA). A small airport with a few flights (to Calicut in India and Cairo). The vast majority of flights arrive at the airports in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

By Bus

The easiest way to reach Al Ain is by bus from Abu Dhabi (140 km) and Dubai (100 km). Buses depart hourly from Abu Dhabi bus station and the Dubai bus station, respectively. Arriving at Al Ain bus station. It takes 2 hr (10 dirham from Abu Dhabi, 15 dirham from Dubai). Buses are clean with air conditioning and stop halfway for 10 min.

From Dubai the bus station to go to Al Ain is the "Al Ghubaiba Bus Station".

From Dubai, there are mini buses available from Bur Dubai taxi station. Clean semi luxury mini vans charges 20 dirham for the 90-min journey.

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Getting Around

Taxis are very easy to find and cheap (in the older, brown taxis, 2.50 dirham plus 1.00/km; silver taxis are more expensive, but have better air conditioning and, usually, English-speaking drivers). Women traveling alone should sit in the back and not make conversation with the cabbies, as drivers may misinterpret friendliness.

There is also a local bus service.

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Eat

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 the ready availability of fresh salads make eating in Al Ain a stress-free experience. Strict vegans may have a little difficulty communicating their precise demands, but most places offer vegan dishes and are always willing to accommodate a paying customer.

Most of the good restaurants are concentrated on Khalifa Street.

The main street in Mauteredh (Mathraz, according to some) has a large number of cafeterias serving Lebanese to Indian food.

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Drink

Alcohol is available in the main hotel restaurants. However, it is advised to drink in moderation as in common with the rest of the UAE; it is illegal to be intoxicated in public places.

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Sleep

  • Danat Resort Al Ain.
  • Al Ain Rotana (in the city).
  • Hilton Al Ain.
  • Ayla.
  • Mercure Hafeet, Jebel Hafeet, ☏ +971 3 7838888. A 125-room hill resort located atop the mountain giving a good glimpse of Al Ain. 300 dirham.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are fairly common in the larger cities, and web censorship is at times odd, but rarely obtrusive. Free wifi is rolled out over the country, starting with Abu Dhabi en Dubai in 2014 and 2015, and many places like hotels, restaurants, bars and coffee places have free wifi as well.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code is 971. Emergency numbers include 999 (police), 998 (ambulance) and 997 (fire), though the general 112 number can be used as well.

The mobile phone network uses the GSM technology and use is widespread. The format for dialing is: +971-#-### ####, where the first "#" designates the area code. Key area codes include Dubai (4), Sharjah (6) and Abu Dhabi (2). Calls to mobile phones use the operator's area codes: (50/56) for Etisalat and (55) for Du.

If you bring your own cellphone, be sure to switch off roaming to avoid high costs, or otherwise purchase a local SIM card from Du or Etisalat. You need your passport with valid visa to purchase the SIM card.

Post

Emirates Post provides services in the country. It's fairly affordable and reliable and many post offices keep long hours from Saturday to Thursday, usually from around 7:30am to 8:00pm or even a little later. Most are closed on Fridays, though some are open for a few hours. If you want to send packages internationally, you might want to use companies like DHL, TNT, FedEx or UPS, as they are fast, reliable and competitively priced. A good alternative is the country's own Empost UAE.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 8:16 on Jul 12, 19 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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