This is the 6th post, continuation of the trip to the Emirates, which started on March 6/2022 (here)
The Drive down, on the wide straight modern freeway, from Sharjah then Dubai and through the sand desert, toward the UNESCO heritage lush garden Town of
Al Ain of Abu Dhabi state, approximately 160 km (99 mi) east of the capital Abu Dhabi
TAl Ain is located in the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, on the UAE border with Oman, adjacent to the town of Al-Buraimi.
The drive which started the previous day, was also monotonous , uneventful and a perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep, since there was not much to spectate on the way, until, to my delight a caravans of trotting Camels was encountered, during their afternoon rehabilitation training....
Dubai Camel Hospital
Located near the Camels Marmoon Race-track in the Dubai desert,
This veterinary hospital most advanced medical facility, dedicated to treating Camels in Dubai and beyond, opened in 2017 and is the first hospital in the world, that exclusively treats camels and serves as a recovery camp for sick Camels. This state-of the art construction cost $10.9 million and it was designed by
The UAE's camel population has exploded over the past decade—nearly doubling between 2010 and 2017 which created a larger need for treatment. The facility focused on the growing racing camel industry, although unrelated dairy and pageant camels are also being treated.
A 2.5 hours told estimated drive, took almost 4 hours with the slow driving of our driver.
The sun was down by the time the bus arrived to the outskirts sand plains of Al Ain ,
so the plan to see the desert sunset and the views off the high Jebel Haffeet, by the border with Oman, was delayed, to next morning.
Approaching Al Ain revealed a more greenery carpeting, many Palm trees and
a boom sprout of new housing construction.
Many new neighborhood mushroomed from the sand, along the freeway
Ramlat al Ra'ee
The group was dispatched directly at the Ayala Grand Hotel, when arrived late in evening to have dinner and spend one night there.
Ayla Grand Hotel - at Al Ain -Abu Dhabi is located across from the al Ain Mall Ayla Grand Hotel is the latest addition and the first 5 star property of Ayla Hotels & Resorts .
Since the mall was just across from the hotel, and my legs needed some moving, after the long ride, my curiosity, along with that of Edna's led us on a short visit at the mall.
Al Ain Mall - A shopping and entertainment center
The mall - located in the downtown and closest to the Omani border, opened in 2001 and houses 350 world-renowned shops and 60 restaurants and coffees.
The local visitors are more traditional and the atmosphere was more quite then that of Dubai's mall..
The Skating at the Ice Ring at the mall
Info on other malls
Visit at the first UAE People's Hospital
Seikh Zayd Al Nahyan Majlis at al Ain Oasis Hospital - Kanad section
The hospital is dedicated to the preservation of the history of al Ain highlighting the development and progress of the town.
Ralph, a profuse English speaking Christian missionary, who greeted us, was dispatched 9 years ago with his wife by the "True sojourners" - a Protestant international humanitarian organization.
,He shared about the history of this first ever built hospital in the UAE and about its development of Al Ain, including the advancement of modern health-care in the region.
Located in the old building of Oasis Hospital, the Majlis (the assembly sitting place - a social institution conducive for a interaction/exchanges) is a reconstruction of the original mud block building, that belonged to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, before he gave the property to Oasis Hospital in 1960. The reconstructed Majlis was built and donated to Oasis Hospital by his Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in honor of his father, Sheikh Zayed.
At the Kanad entrance (short for the founder's Kennedy name) one encounters a rare collection of historical aerial shots that, depict the harsh realities of life in Al Ain before modern development, and capture the progress of Al Ain’s development during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The photo images reveal the hardships and challenges which the people of the area faced not that long ago, when Camel Caravans, Camel milk and Dates' diet, were all, that sustain the people.
Intriguing photos also depict Doctors Pat and Marian Kennedy, Medical missionaries, who came to Al Ain in November 1960 and founded the hospital, at the invitation of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his brother Sheikh Shakhbut.
US medical missionary penetrated new territory for their state political reasons to build hospitals.
The Kennedy had traveled from Iraq to Lebanon by a land-drover when they arrived in the desolate desert
During that time,the mortality rate in the region was quite high and the population was in decline. The Kennedy’s team slowly worked on providing the first modern medical care program for the region, focusing on improving obstetric and pediatric
200, 000 babies of the country were born in the hospital since it was founded Many of the Zayd sheikhs were also born in the hospital, where they had encounters with other esteemed people of other religions, who throughout the years would come and work at the hospital, and would save lives of the people from the region.
Not having been invaded by foreigners, helped in not negatively contaminating the
al Ain's population, who welcomed the arriving foreigners and who stayed open to the help offered. Kanad Hospital serves all nationalities, and provides training for medical students from UAE University. The current professional workers are also from other Arab countries.
The non-for profit state of the art current hospital has fulfilled an immense health-care need, serving patients also from beyond the region in obstetrics pediatrics,epistemology, and orthopedics.
Jebel Haffeet - "The Empty mountain"
Climbing the Haffeet mountain is known for the incredible sunrise and sunset photos
opportunities, which we missed, both, because of the previous day late arrival, and due
to being taken, this morning, first to the Oasis Hospital,
In my book it is a miss in planning...
Yet, the majestic views of Abu Dhabi’s lush garden city, off the top of the mount are spectacular, at any hour of the day and are worth the steep curvy climb, which some how on the way down fatigued the bus to worn-out..
Rising to a height of 1,249 m, over Al Ain and the borders of Oman, the craggy limestone skyline-dominating mount peak, with its layers and significant fossil discoveries, is Abu Dhabi’s highest, and the UAE’s second tallest. Due to its proximity to the main Hajar range, the mountain may be considered as being part of the Al Hajar Mountains range.
On the way up the mountain few exquisite Manors were seen constructed on vast pieces of land.
The large al Ain Oasis, below from the mount's Vista point
The Border with Oman crossroad. The ridge block the sea breeze from Oman
The Sheikh's villa at the mount's top is the border territorial marking
Solar energy regulates the
watering of the planted trees at the
many constructed vista points along the mountain's road to its top.
At the foot of Jebel Hafit, a 9km stretch in the Jebel Hafit Desert Park offers
mountain - hiking, biking or horse or camel riding..
Instead of enjoying any of these attractive activities, the group set, idly and docilely, for over 3 hours, inside or at side-road near the bus, melting in the hot weather, since the
bus got over heated during the climb up, and the driver on the way down, was afraid it would not make it back to town, without further damage or a total break-down.
One would hope, that a sensible solution of summoning a replacement local bus or Taxi to save on time and use it to feed the group lunch, in center of town, would have been applied.
But that wasn't the case. The local guide (mentioned in my first post) made sure not to add any further cost to the already incurred expenses, and craftily assured the organizers, that the tour company had already sent a substitute bus, which should have arrived shortly, but the guide failed to mention, that the replacement bus was dispatched from Abu-Dhabi City, located at least 3 hours drive a way....
This unforeseen and unfortunate, waste of time glitch, left much shorter time to explore
the Al Ain oasis historic site, which was the main reason, for which this long drive to the south of Abu Dhabi was made, in the fist place
Again in my book it is a miss in plan. Touring the Al Ain historic site shouldn't have been lasts, but first in the day's planning
Al Ain Town - "The spring"
It is the largest inland city in the Emirates, the fourth-largest city (after Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah), and the second-largest[ in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, with a 750k inhabitants
known as the "Garden City" - Madīnat Al-Ḥadīqah due to its greenery, particularly with regard to the city's oases. The city is known for its combination of modern and pre-modern buildings. and for its cultural and historical importance.
It used to have roundabouts in every intersection but recently it has been replaced by traffic signals.
SheikhZayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, spent much of his life, there, at least since 1927, before becoming the Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in 1966.
The city is a popular tourist destination with great hotels, golf resort, shopping malls, restaurants, a wild-life park, a go-karting racetrack and a recently opened water-adventure park.
A cultural retreat, Al Ain also hosts annual events including the Al Ain Classical Music Festival. and is home to the main federal university in the UAE, the United Arab Emirates University, and to two campuses of the Higher Colleges of Technology – Al Ain Men's College and Al Ain Women's College. Al-Ain is also the home of Horizon International flight academy, Etihad Airways's cadet pilot training centre. Private higher education institutions include the Al Ain University and Abu Dhabi University (Al-Ain campus). Al-Ain also houses the eastern zone headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, Abu Dhabi's education authority.
One of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlement, the area of Al-Ain has been inhabited for nearly 8,000 years, with archaeological sites showing human settlement. These early cultures built "beehive" tombs for their dead and engaged in hunting and gathering in the area as well as with metallurgy.
The oases provided water for early farming of Date Palms, until the modern age.
in 2011, Al-Ain became the first World Heritage Site in the UAE to be recognized by UNESCO.
Oases and Aflaj
The city’s most stunning sight with its still-operational traditional falaj (ancient irrigation system) and pathways shaded by 147,000 date palms and fruit trees, a 12000 square dunam area, a place to see what this region’s agriculture has looked like, for millennia.
The city's Oasis are known for their aquifer underground irrigation system that leads water to the tunnels, from boreholes to water farms and palm trees. Division of land was marked by the marked tunnel belonging
Falaj irrigation -the 3000 years ancient system has been used widely in Oman, the UAE, China, Iran and other countries.
Demonstration of tree climbing to get the dates.
Palm dates trees growth in the desert are the only agriculture product
Old Jahili Mosque The site of the old small mosque in the premises of the the inner fort built under the direction of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, ( Zayed the First) This historic building was originally constructed with earth blocks and palm log beams and probably dates back to the foundation of the fort in the 1890s
Al Ain is home to historic Al Jahili Fort and Al Qattara Fort. which were erected in 1891 to defend the city and its palm groves, The former houses works by British adventurer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, with the latter housing an arts center and gallery.
Departing Al Ain very late in the evening
# More fantastic Photos taken by Yuval Zaliouk can be found here
To be Continued... For all posts Lili's Travel Diaries