There’s more than one reason why tourists flock to Al Ain. The city is a breath of fresh air, on the edge of the Empty Quarter, and filled with sights to see. Tour guide Amal Al Dhaheri fills us in on Al Ain Oasis.
An hour and half or so east of Abu Dhabi city lies a gem of a garden city. Al Ain is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements and is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s so much to do in Al Ain, you just need to plan your trip, so you don’t miss a single site! Let’s start with Amal’s tour of the Al Ain Oasis.
Al Ain Oasis
Al Ain Oasis is located in the heart of the city and is one of the largest oases. The oasis border both Al Ain Museum and Al Ain Palace Museum so it’s manageable to visit all three sites in just one day! Spanning over 120 hectares, the oasis contains more than 147,000 palm, fig, banana, and mango trees and is host to myriad locally owned farms within it, the majority are still operational today. Here you can see an example of an irrigation system that dates back to 3000 BCE and is also still fully operational. Aside from the historical elements of a visit here, the lush oasis offers a reprieve from the desert sun like no other! There are tours, cafés, and very knowledgeable guides on staff to help you get around and learn as much as you can about early life in the Emirates and the ubiquitous date palm tree.
Open daily from 9am – 5pm. Restaurants, Cafes & Shops open daily from 12 – 9pm
Location: Al Mutawaa, Al Ain
03 711 8251
Explain the importance of the Date Palm in the UAE?
We have a long history with the date palm, which forms an integral part of our traditions and heritage over thousands of years. Our forefathers relied on this tree to make their livings and secure their survival, and in many ways we still do.
In earlier times, you were not able to survive Bedouin life in the desert without dates. Before oil was discovered, we relied on dates as a food supply since they are considered to be a fruit that contains natural healthy sugar and most of the vitamins that humans need.
Our use of the date palm was also an early example of sustainability as we let nothing go to waste. Beyond the fruit itself, the bark of the date palm trees was also used for firewood and building our small flat huts. When the leaves of the date palms are dyed, one can also use these raw materials as baskets or mats. To get the fruit from the tops of the trees, farmers even creatively made a ‘habool’ from parts of the tree to climb it and harvest the dates and to trim the tall fronds of the tree.
We are date lovers by nature, but the use of dates is also recorded in our religion. In Islam, the date is also known as a treatment for illnesses and a pain reliever, and during Ramadan, Muslims like to break our fast with a date.
Free entry. Click here for timings and general information
Facts about Date Palms
You can measure a date palms age based upon its rungs. Three levels of rungs represent one year of the tree’s life
Visitors are always surprised to learn that there are both male and female date palms.
The date palm was not only a vital source of sustenance for local peoples, but virtually every part of the tree was put to good use. Dried date-palm fronds, known as ‘arish, were used to construct houses, shelters, and windbreaks in the desert. Dried and split palm leaves, known as ‘khooss,’ were woven to make floor mats and storage containers. In a way, our usage of the palm is an early example of sustainability. We understood the importance of this resource and threw nothing away.
Amal Al Dhaheri offers tours of Al Ain. Born and raised in the Garden City, Amal prides herself on her local knowledge. Her passion derives from her desire to showcase Al Ain and allow visitors to see just how exciting and vibrant the city really is. She also wants to create a better understanding of her people, their customs, traditions, heritage, and food.
Her home tours are a highlight as they allow visitors to see the inner workings of an Emirati home and family. Hers is unique because her father is a farmer and grows the family’s produce. They also have a working farm full of animals. When you book a home experience with Amal, you will meet her mother and father, and her mother will make you a home-cooked meal with farm-to-table produce. You will experience the heart of Arabia the very best possible in any country: through the stomach in a flavourful meal cooked with love by Amal’s zealous mum.
Book your tour by contacting Amal on Instagram @Amal.AlAin1