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Known as the ‘Garden City’, Al Ain is a beautiful and historic oasis city in the United Arab Emirates, which has become a popular summer retreat for people escaping the humidity on the coast. Packed with fascinating historic monuments and shady date palm groves, it’s also got great shopping, and plenty of cafés and restaurants. You can head to the top of the Jebel Hafeet mountain which dominates the town to enjoy spectacular views, or take a dip in the Green Mubazarrah hot springs at the base. There’s also a great zoo, an amusement park, a go-kart circuit and a fabulous water adventure park where you can kayak, surf and try some white-water rafting. Choose from a range of hotles, including a selection of all inclusive options.

Top attractions

Top attractions

Al Ain is a wonderful, garden-filled oasis city in the desert of United Arab Emirates. It’s got a long, long history and is replete with fascinating ancient monuments, from Bronze Age ruins to 19th-century forts. There are several shopping malls, lots of restaurants and cafés, and several charming, shady oases where you can escape the heat. The city is dominated by the 1340-metre-high peak of Jebel Hafeet, which you can climb for fantastic views over the desert. There are also fabulous hot springs and pools at the Green Mubazarrah complex at its base. Al Ain boasts lots of other attractions, including a zoo, an amusement park and a go-kart circuit. And there can’t be many places in the world where you can surf and go white-water rafting in the desert, but Al Ain is one of them, thanks to its amazing water adventure park!

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Eating out

Eating out

As you might expect from the fourth-largest city in the United Arab Emirates, Al Ain offers a wide range of restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes. Whether you want an upmarket gourmet experience or just fancy some pizza or a curry, you’ll find it all here. If you want to try some of the local UAE dishes, there are lots of places offering classic local cuisine. Perhaps the most extraordinary of these is the Bedouin speciality, stuffed camel, which has made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest dish! More common on local menus are dishes like al harees, a paste-like mixture of wheat and meat that is lightly spiced, or al machboos, which is a slow-cooked meat and rice dish flavoured with lemon.

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Families

Families

There is so much to do for families in Al Ain! Kids will enjoy running around the oases – gardens which are fed by natural springs – that dot the town, and provide a cool respite from the heat. There are loads of family-friendly attractions from a large zoo and safari park, complete with lions, tigers and giraffes, to an amusement park and a go-kart circuit. Plus, there is a fantastic water adventure park where you can surf, go white-water rafting and swimming! Older kids and teens will be happy with the shopping malls, and they might also enjoy the views from the top of the Jebel Hafeet mountain, as well as the hot spring complex, with pools and hot tubs, at the base of the mountain.

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Action & Adventure

Action & Adventure

Despite its desert location, Al Ain boasts a fantastic waterpark, which is home to one of the world’s largest artificial surfing waves, plus a white-water rafting area that has three sections suitable for everyone from beginners to experienced rafters. You can also have a go at kayaking and wake-boarding, or simply splash about in the swimming pool. The park also has zip lines, a climbing wall and some balance beams and swings.  Although hiking and trekking are not common in the United Arab Emirates, experienced climbers may fancy trekking on the Jebel Hafeet mountain, followed by a visit to the hot spring complex, with pools and hot tubs, which is located at the base of the mountain.

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Beaches

Beaches

Al Ain is set in the desert, but it has plenty of places to cool off. Known as the ‘Garden City’, its got several lovely oases, which are shaded with palm trees and cooled with pools and fountains. If you want to take a dip, there is a very popular hot spring complex, the Green Mubazarrah, which sits at the base of the Jebel Hafeet mountain. It has streams, springs, a lake and there are pools and hot tubs where you can relax in the mineral-rich waters. You could also head to the thrilling water adventure park, where you can have a go at surfing and white-water rafting. If you are desperate to visit a real beach, you could drive for an hour and 50 minutes west to Abu Dhabi, which has some gorgeous white-sand beaches packed with facilities and options for water sports.

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Nightlife

Nightlife

Like the rest of the United Arab Emirates, there are strict laws on serving alcohol in Al Ain, so only a handful of places have the right to serve or sell drinks. Most of these are in the hotels, which boast a good choice of bars and nightclubs. These range from chic cocktail bars and pool bars, to laid-back pubs and sports bars with pool tables and big screens. As well as the hotels, the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club serves alcohol, and its bar is a popular spot for a relaxed evening drink.

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Couples

Couples

Al Ain is a wonderful place for a relaxing, romantic holiday. The lovely oases, with their shady paths, natural springs and pools, are perfect for a romantic stroll. They have played an important part in the city’s development over the centuries and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You could also go for a browse through the atmospheric souqs, picking up souvenirs. Culture buffs will also enjoy the host of cultural attractions – this is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlements – which range from Bronze Age tombs to picturesque and well preserved forts from the 19th and early 20th centuries. You won’t want to miss the sunset views from the heady heights of Jebel Hafeet, one of the highest mountains in the UAE, and in the evenings you can enjoy a cocktail at a lounge bed by the pool at one of the smart hotel clubs.

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Culture

Culture

Al Ain is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and is packed with amazing cultural sights, from Bronze Age tombs to remarkable forts. There are several UNESCO World Heritage Sights, including the shady Al Ain oases (beautiful gardens fed by natural springs), the archaeological sites of Bida bint Saud and Jebel Hafeet, where tombs dating back 5000 years have been discovered, and the magnificent Hili Archaeological park, which preserves some spectacular monuments from about 2500 BC. You can get some context for these sights in the fascinating Al Ain National Museum. There are also several remarkable fortresses and palaces, and, traditional cultural attractions include the souqs, the camel market and camel races.

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