Things to do in Al Ain

Just under two hours’ drive from busy Dubai Marina lies the greenest place in the UAE – and one you’ve probably never even seen.

Not boasting the coastal location of the likes of Fujairah or Ras Al Khaimah, nor status as an emirate, the flourishing city of Al Ain is often forgotten by residents scanning the web in search of a staycation. Part of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, this tranquil expanse of desert hosts an abundance of attractions beyond its pretty flowers and innumerable roundabouts. Dubbed The Garden City, Al Ain – which means “the spring” – is neatly filled with oases, gardens, amusement parks, exotic animals, museums and world-class sports facilities.

Load up the car and hit the road.
Things to do in Al Ain

Time Out takes a look at things to do in Al Ain, including car museums, Wadi Adventure, Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain Zoo, shooting clubs and more

Just under two hours’ drive from busy Dubai Marina lies the greenest place in the UAE – and one you’ve probably never even seen.

Not boasting the coastal location of the likes of Fujairah or Ras Al Khaimah, nor status as an emirate, the flourishing city of Al Ain is often forgotten by residents scanning the web in search of a staycation. Part of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, this tranquil expanse of desert hosts an abundance of attractions beyond its pretty flowers and innumerable roundabouts. Dubbed The Garden City, Al Ain – which means “the spring” – is neatly filled with oases, gardens, amusement parks, exotic animals, museums and world-class sports facilities.

Load up the car and hit the road.

Get ready to have an “oar-some” time at the UAE’s first-ever man-made white water rafting, kayaking, wakeboarding and surfing attraction.

The levels of fun will be turned up rapidly once you start navigating your way through crashing waves of an adrenalinecharged white-water rafting experience at the base of Al Ain’s Jebel Hafeet.

Whether you’re new to the activity or have dipped your toe in the waters before, you’re in for plenty of thrills and spills.

There are three different levels of whitewater rapids available and no previous experience of it is necessary.

For those with a sense of adventure, this is an exhilarating experience that is not to missed.

All raft trips include a professional guide, a short briefing on the essentials, and all the safety equipment you could need. With that taken care of, all that’s left is to make an almighty splash.

This flagship family entertainment destination in Al Ain has been a firm favourite since opening its doors back in 1985, when it became the Gulf region’s very first theme park. As a result, Hili Fun City was referred to as the Disneyland of the GCC, hosting visitors from all over the region, and the world, including several royal families and VIPs. Hili Fun City remains as popular as ever, especially following a complete refurbishment and transformation in 2009. The theme park is packed with more than 30 attractions ranging from thrilling rides and adventures to more gentle options for kids, and there’s plenty for parents to enjoy, too. It also features a family show amphitheatre, along with picnic and play areas.
Dhs50 per person, free (kids under 0.89 metres).

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has recognised Al Ain as a World Heritage Site. This means locations across the city, including the six oases, archaeological sites, buildings, palaces and tombs are to be preserved and maintained to a Unesco standard. For a taste of what to expect, you can take a 360-degree virtual tour around the Hafeet Tombs that date back to 2,500 BC at www.visitabudhabi.ae.

If you’re not planning a trip until later in the year, you’ll be able to experience an age-old shopping trip to Souq Al Qattara. This was essentially a mid-20th century shopping centre, founded by the late Sheikh Shakhbut Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former Ruler of Abu Dhabi. It has been renovated and is open for business from October to May on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This market was introduced to encourage local families to promote and preserve Abu Dhabi’s traditions. Expect to see plenty of handicrafts, artworks and more in the 30 internal and 20 external shops. The souk is connected to Al Qattara Fort, also known as the Al Qattara Arts Centre. Organised by TCA Abu Dhabi, the arts centre was originally designed to be a place for Emiratis to immerse themselves in cultural and creative studies, but has since become a space for all Al Ain residents and visitors to enjoy. There are also workshops, a café and a library to check out.
Prices vary.

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