Al Ain

…enchanting.
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Al Ain is the “garden city” which is located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and has quite a lot to offer.
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Distance: 90min drive from Abu Dhabi
Ideal stay: either day trip or weekend getaway
Temperature: similar to Abu Dhabi
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Since Al Ain is a kind of neighbouring city to Abu Dhabi I had the pleasure to visit it quite a few times. Each time I was lucky to see something I had not seen before.
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It all starts with the amazing views while road-tripping all the way to the green city.
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..it is daily business to encounter camels or sheep which are tied on the old-school Toyota pick-ups..
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First stop: Al Ain Oasis
The Al Ain Oasis is the largest oasis and was crowned as a UNESCO world heritage site.
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It is def. the perfect getaway from the turbulent, hectic city vibes since here you hear – correct – nothing.
Calm, shady and silent – just you and nature (ok – and some tourists from time to time).
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..stroll around and get lost in the walkaways..
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Historical: Al Jahili Fort
The Al Jahili Fort is one of the most historic buildings which originally served to protect the palm groves and defend the city.
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Nowadays it is an active visitors destination due to its information centre and diverse exhibition area.
Check TCAs website to get the latest updates on exhibitions and events.
It is open daily from 09h00 to 17h00 (except Mondays). Enjoy!
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Ancient: National Museum
The Al Ain National Museum is the oldest museum in the UAE.
It shows the full history from the stone age through to the recent foundation of the UAE (Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was born here).
The fort is a well-preserved mudbrick structure which is divided into three main sections: ethnography, archaeology and souvenirs.
Yes, contrary to popular belief: there is a huge historical background to be seen! See for yourself.
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..as usual cultural sights are free of charge in the UAE..
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Dribbling: Camel Market
This traditional (one of the last of its kind) Camel Market delivers the real experience on how it was in former days.
“Livestock” feeling in the middle of the desert – they are not only bargaining with camels but also goats, sheep and chicken.
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The camel owners tend to be slightly pushy and intrusive but don`t worry: just a have a look around on your own without tipping them whenever you take a picture with the camels.
Try to look for the BABY camels ūüôā They are def. the CUTEST ‚̧
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High: Jebel Hafeet
With its 1240m height – Jebel Hafeet is the highest peak in the UAE and among the the worlds greatest driving roads.
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Once you (finally) reach the top by either car or bike you will be rewarded with incredibly stunning views.
(Un)Fortunately there is (only) one hotel (Mercure Al Ain) which will be able to satisy your thirst.
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Service and seating falls in the 3* hotel category but gets clearly outvoted by the magnificent surrounding vistas.
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Underwater: Wadi Adventure
At the foot of Jebel Hafeet you come upon the region’s first man-made kayaking, surf and white water rafting facility: Wadi Adventure.
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The almost 3m high man-made surf wave is (obviously) the world largest! Be brave. Be you.
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Wadi Adventure was quite “wild” for me but is for worth a day trip for families.
Caution: at first sight the entrance fee seems quite low – but in fact all activities get charged separately – so in the end you still end up paying quite a high amount (surcharges for locker; rafting; high rope course etc.).
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Also I have noticed that staff near the rafting site are not appropriately trained as they are not able to handle “dangerous” situations.
Yet the flying fox was AMAZING!
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Animal-ly: Al Ain Zoo
Although I am not a big fan of keeping wild animals in locked cages; I have to admit that Al Ain Zoo leads by example.
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All animals have spacious compounds and look quite healthy.
Al Ain Zoo is home to 4000 animals and provides plenty of green public spaces and kids activities.
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If you get the chance: Visit the new Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre – I heard it is quite good but unfortunately you can only access it in combination with the Zoo ticket.
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As you can see from the pictures: quite beautiful and yet different from bustling Abu Dhabi.
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Hotel-wise I would recommend the Al Ain Rotana or the brand new Aloft.
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Whether you are looking for a quick renewal of body and soul or some activities outside of the capital – Al Ain will satisfy either way.

 

Awful Arabs & Muslims..?!


“Arabs are all Muslims and really¬†bad people”

Well…this is one of the statements I hear quite often therefore I need to URGENTLY comment on it.

Firstly,¬†being an “Arab” does not automatically mean that the person is Muslim.
(In Lebanon for eg. live more or less 54% Muslims and 41% Christians)

Secondly,¬†there will always be bad people regardless of religion, nationality etc. and I’m pleased to say that most of the “Arabs” and “Muslims” I met were simply amazing.

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My friends here in Abu Dhabi are mainly guys (yes..males..oh oh!) from Palestine, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Oman, Lebanon, Syria and the UAE (Locals).

We do what friends do – we go to the beach..to the club & dance..to the restaurant..to the cinema..to exhibitions..to a friends’ place¬†etc. – yes, we interact and it is “allowed” ūüėČ
They do respect me like I respect them and we absolutely enjoy our time together! It’s an ongoing interaction and cultural exchange for¬†both sides.
My¬†Arab guys would always make sure I¬†get home safely; I don’t carry too heavy things as a female and value discussion¬†at eye level.

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Muslims
I do not wish to go into detail in regards to religion and beliefs but still I need to make three things clear:
A) Just because you are Muslim Рyou are not necessarily an extremist
B) The Quran is THE Holy Book in the Islam and at the same time an amazing piece of Arabic literature, written with the most precious Arabic words
C) Muslims do not necessarily have to be Arabic Рthey could also be Indian, Asian, Australian, Chinese or even American & German

The Muslims who I met appreciate the “female” (mother, wife etc.) contrary¬†to their reputation. Some say there is no “law” which forces Muslim lady to cover her hair (hijab) – it is rather a personal choice – back in the days the covering¬†intended protection against “annoyances” which is nowadays regulated¬†by well-functioning law systems. Wearing a hijab (or not) does not portray¬†her emancipation nor her “oppressed” opinion.
There will always be Muslims and/or Christians who practice or interpret something which was never meant to be practiced.
In the end it is all about communication and exchange – there is no right, no wrong.

Who says that your perception classifying something as¬†“normal”¬†is the correct one? ūüėČ

Concluding:
Yes, almost all “Arabs” and “Muslims” are awful.. they are kind, graceful, food and family loving, generous, hospitable, understanding, loving, nice, funny, food-terrorists (“eat more, have more, serve yourself”), interested, respectful, caring and do not try to impose something on you. Horrible, isn’t it? ūüėČ

We are all the same Рwe live to love.