Al Ain, literally means The Eye or The Spring is the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With a population of 421,948 (2005 estimate), Al Ain is dubbed the Garden City of the UAE. It is located in Abu Dhabi (emirate), directly adjacent to the border with Oman. The freeways connecting Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai form a geographic triangle in the center of the country, each city roughly 150 kilometers from the other two. Ref: wikipedia

Me and my two friends with a new acquaintance, Farhan braved the summer heat off to the outskirts of Dubai. We had a long holiday and what better way to spend the weekend than to plan a getaway.

At 8 AM on March 2008, we gather ourselves for a  much needed break. Our new acquaintance will drive for us.

As we passed by Sheikh Zayed Road, our eyes were caught by these beautiful creatures. Fabulous Peacocks showcasing their gorgeous feathers. Around 50 of them roaming freely around Sheikh Mohammad Palace.

Visitors are only allowed to make a U-turn at the Palace ground so I have those snapshots taken inside our car. These eye-candies are amazing, I wanted to take one home.

We were back on the road in no time, and traveled for about 2 hours going to Al Ain. There were hardly any vehicles on the highway connecting Dubai to Al Ain, that made our trip a breeze.

Al Ain is famous for its roundabouts. The roundabout intersections are distinct to almost every corner.

Our first stop was Al Ain Oasis. Located between Main souq area downtown and Al Ain Street. This is home to the thousands of date palms and known for its largest underground irrigation system. There are also old building ruins along the way which they plan to restore.

We decided to visit Al Ain Zoo. It was all our first time to be there and I did enjoy our animal encounters. Moreover, Farhan, was like a kid craving for more to see. I was in awe to see rhinoceros and storks, among others.

We left Al Ain Zoo around 11 am and seek our way to Jebel Hafeet. It is located between a desert and its magnificent sand dunes to the west and the jagged and impressive Hajar Mountains. Jebel Hafeet is the second tallest mountain in the United Arab Emirates (1350 m).

The road going up is steep zigzag slope. We passed by Green Mubazzarah Park, which has a stretch of hilly mountains covered by grasses. The three view decks of Jebel Hafeet offers equally beautiful, spectacular views. Each has a parking area. There is an isolated hotel halfway, the Mercure Hafeet, with its panoramic view, I still find it an odd location. Who prefers to stay there?

There is a construction at the top of Jebel Hafeet. Farhan said it was a palace of the crowned prince. Hmmm, impressive but quite dangerous. Ever heard of landslides?

Basking in the sun’s glory at noon is not a good idea. The best time to go for viewing  pleasure is just before sunset or hit the road before dawn. Looking down, dark and hazy clouds were covering most of the great views of the mountains and sand dunes.

After the short visit, we headed to Al Ain Mall to for a late lunch. The newly opened Dubai Outlet Mall is on the way, so we dropped by to take a peek of what’s in store before heading home. We were done at 5 pm.

Tips: Its best to go during winter, naturally not on a summer’s scorching heat. Not much to see from up there, except for a visual treat of sand dunes and patches of greens.

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