If you’re not entirely new to my blog, you’ll know that I live in Abu Dhabi, the older, less cool sister to Dubai. Suits me perfectly, ja?
I love many things about the emirate of Abu Dhabi. One of those is the city of Al Ain.
Al Ain is known as the Garden City. HH Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan was born here and often returned here. It’s an oasis of green in the middle of a very hot desert. It is very much the heart of the UAE.
When we first moved to the UAE 13 years ago, Al Ain was a one horse town. Not much happening, many historical spots of interest but not much else. The first time we decided to visit we technically had crossed over to Oman and didn’t even realize it! Now of course there are fancy border posts.
Roll on 12 years and it’s a bustling city with various malls, tourist attractions and with a vibrant nightlife while still retaining its old world charm and rusticity.
Of all the many places I love, one stands out.
Al Jahili Park is right in the center of bustling Al Ain, close to the Rotana hotel, with a busy Starbucks right on the edge of the park. Recent additions include a ( shudder!) neon plastic edifice aka a jumping castle/ slip and slide. It’s horrendous simply because it’s in the middle of an otherwise tranquil stretch of green grass, palm trees and play parks. It’s loud, tinny muzak ruins the serenity of the park.
The fort is another attraction right in the middle of the park. It harks back to the days of conquering hordes and other adventures. It’s perfectly maintained and a wonderful example of the history and architecture of the UAE…long before the humongous malls and glittering towers.
My favourite time to visit the park in winter is at about lunchtime. Families come out and spread out huge picnic feasts with all the accoutrements including a braai. Children run around and play tag, or play on the swing sets. The women sit and gossip on lawn chairs while the men folk engage in “more masculine pursuits”🙄.
Everything is immaculately maintained and the park is always neat and clean. Security is visible at all times so everyone feels safe.
During the summer I like to go to the park after sunset. You’ll find far fewer families out since many opt for the coolness of the mall in hot summer months. But you still find couples walking, friends playing badminton or soccer, or others ( like me and mine)that go for a nice long walk or run or some yoga in the park.
The park is home to wild cats that rifle through the garbage and stalk among the plants. The plentiful picnickers make sure they never go hungry and the freshwater fountains make sure they’re hydrated.
Until next I blog,