Feature » A View of the Garden City ofAl Ain

A View of the Garden City ofAl Ain

Mercure3 jpgThis month we travel to Al Ain also fondly known as “The Garden City” which is due to its the amount trees and flowers you'll see.


Al Ain has some original features both geographically and historically and proves a pleasant and informative drive from Fujairah. It is part of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the fourth largest city in the UAE. It is connected to both Abu Dhabi and Dubai with extremely good highways and form a geographic triangle in the country, each city being roughly 130 kilometres from the other two. From Fujairah the distance is 186kms around 2 hours drive.


Al Ain is also the birthplace of the first UAE President, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, which is why it holds a special place in the hearts of all Emiratis, it also has the highest pro portion of Emirati nationals in the UAE (30.8%). It is of course inland but if you want to check ex patriots for their local geographical skills just ask them for the name of the port in Al Ain, you will be surprised at how many give an answer with the name of port.


Directions and tips travelling from Fujairah: we always recommended you use Google maps or Waze and you should allocate a little extra time as you will only encounter a good deal of traffic passing through this large city.


Head towards the Fujairah/Maliha highway. Once  on the Maliha road come off at Maliha interchange  and head towards the Madam. Once at the main  roundabout head straight through to the Dubai/Al Ain highway (well sign posted). Our final destination in Al Ain was Jebel Hafeet which is  across the city but it well sign posted.


Rising 1,240 metres, Jebel Hafeet is the emirate’s highest peak, and UAE’s second. The mountain itself is stark craggy limestone, The way up is very smooth with BBQ areas along the way, so if you want to stop for a photo opportunity or a picnic with your family or friends, they are very well laid out. 

Mercure1 jpgWe chose Jebel Hafeet because of its unique location and historical links and the Mercure Hotel is a good quality and reasonably priced hotel which is situated 1,200 metres up the mountain.


The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, built by a German company in 1980, extends for 11.7 kms up the mountain, rising 1,200 metres with 60 turns and three lanes (two climbing and one descending), this immaculate road was called the greatest driving road in the world by Edmunds.com. The road scales the mountain and ends at a parking lot with only a hotel and a palace belonging to the UAE ruler. There was even a Bollywood film (Race) was shot on the Jabel Hafeet mountain. In January national and international cyclists take part in an annual road cycling competition and attempt that tough climb.


We had got another great deal from Cobone where our booking was all inclusive and free tickets to Al Ain Zoo!


The rooms are cheerfully decorated and surprisingly spacious with the usual essentials like coffee, water, bath robes and slippers and although the balconies are small... what a view!


Staff are friendly and helpful.


Beyond the view of the heated outdoor pool, the amazing vista, onto the city of Al Ain, a magnificent sight at the night. 


Mercure4 jpgBecause of it's location the hotel makes every effort to keep the little ones entertained. There's a  kids play area outside, along with a fun kids pool that is carefully cut off from the grown-up area. There are water slides for older children and teens and the main outdoor pool with swim bar, jacuzzi, and waterfalls and mini-golf. They have an indoor play area as well, a baby sitting service.


Sit in the pool cafe and you'll notice the unused water flume which meanders desperately close to the edge of the mountain often inspires all sorts of comments and is most unique.


There are two main dining options, the Orient Cafe and French La Belvedere where complimentary breakfast is served. Both are located on the ground floor and the Orient has a great view of the manicured lawn and the play ground.


Mercure2 jpgWe drove the short distance  from the hotel to the summit Jebel Hafeet and there is a small restaurant and a large parking area and the breathtaking views form the observation areas from all angles, geographically one side views the UAE and Oman on the other.


There are many other attractions in Al Ain, and the Zoo is definitely worth a visit and some of the other hotels offer free tickets included with your stay.


This zoo park holds more than 250 animals in the natural habitat in over 217 hectares. This big space can now be considered home to both African and Arabian animals, including eland, giraffe, lion, oryx, springbok and zebra. Occupying this enormous space is a significant number of native plants from Africa. When construction was done, there were over 2,500 plants and trees moved and have been replanted since it was renovated in 2013 and there are further plans for expansion.


If it's the right time of the year a trip to the Paradise Hanging Gardens will amaze you with its colourful flora and be aware it holds the world record for the most hanging baskets of flowers (2,968) and gives residency to an array of aromas  and different shapes and sizes. The pride of place going to the Eiffel Tower. 

There' also Wadi Adventure one of the newer attractions in the city. It is the Middle East’s first man made white water rafting, surfing and kayaking facility. You can easily spend a whole day there exploring, and it’s not just white water rafting and surfing facilities you’ll find, there’s also a family swimming pool and kids splash area, an aerial obstacle course and a family friendly low ropes course.


All in all an excellent trip and another example of not needing to step on a plane... try exploring the Emirates instead!.


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