Al Ain “the well” or “the eye”, and in this case meaning “the spring” in English) is a city in the United Arab Emirates located in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, directly adjacent to the border with Oman. It is often called the ‘Garden City of the Persian Gulf’ given the many parks, tree-lined avenues and decorative roundabouts within the city. Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai form a kind of geographic triangle in the center of the country, each roughly 150 kilometers from the other two.
Al Ain is the fourth largest metropolitan area by population in the Emirates with just under 300,000 people. Al Ain has a higher proportion of Emirati nationals than elsewhere in the country, however the majority of its residents are expatriates particularly from the Indian sub-continent and there are fewer Western expatriates than in the larger centers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This gives Al Ain a more authentic Arabic look and feel compared to the larger and more cosmopolitan cities of the Emirates.
The area has been continuously inhabited for more than four thousand years and Al Ain is considered central to the cultural heritage of the country. The name Al Ain means “the spring” in Arabic, a reference to the numerous underground water springs in the area, which explains its attractiveness as an area of settlement. Traces of its traditional past remain, including camel racing and breeding. The ancient falaj system of irrigation is still in use in some areas distributing underground water by a network of tunnels emerging eventually into open channels whose flow can be directed and regulated.
Al Ain is developing as a tourist destination and tourist Attractions include Jebel Hafeet, a 1000 metre high mountain which dominates the surrounding area. A visit to the mineral springs at the base and a drive to the top of this mountain for sunset is popular. Al Ain regularly records the highest summer temperatures in the country, but the dry desert air makes it a welcome retreat from the costal humidity of the larger cities.
Other Attractions include the Al Ain Oasis in the city centre and other oases dotted around the area, cool retreats in the middle of the summer heat, a zoo, amusement park named “Fun City”, many well maintained parks, most popular with families in the summer evenings, a heritage village as well as malls and other modern sites. Important social and governmental infrastructure includes United Arab Emirates University, Higher Colleges of Technology, well-equipped medical facilities, including the teaching hospital at Tawam, military training areas and Al Ain International Airport.
The city is home to the successful association football (soccer) club, Al Ain FC.