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United Arab Emirates: Al Ain oasis

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Al Ain oasis | United Arab Emirates | Asia

[Visited: March 2016]

It is the middle of the day when I park at the eastern side of the oasis of Al Ain, and walk through the boom gate. There is a narrow paved road with walls on both sides, but no cars in sight. I walk towards the west, peeking over the wall and through open gates, until I see a date palm tree with a ladder leaning against it, and I decide to enter. As soon as I am in, I hear a voice calling me, but I don't see anyone yet. I only hear streaming water, and walking towards the sound, I come to a concrete water basin, and a man standing on top of it. We shake hands, but find no common language to speak. I now see the system of falaj for which the oasis is famous: an irrigation method using channels: they go in all directions from here. The man takes me to his shack, and I understand he is a guard of the oasis, and Afghani in origin.

Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): Square with wall and date palm trees in the middle of the oasis

While the city of Al Ain is surprisingly busy, and all around the oasis, now that I am inside the oasis, it suddenly feels far away, and the only thing I hear are birds. I see very few people around, and I now enter more of the enclosed date palm plantations. I wonder about these date palms: there is only one case in which I see a local guy climb a tree and harvest dates. How are they being cultivated, and are these dates just for local consumption, or even for export? The good thing about the oasis is that the temperature under the protection of the date palm trees is at a constant, comfortable level. At the season of my visit, the climate is still merciful and actually, pleasantly warm, but in summer, this must be the place to go to escape the desert heat.

Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): Date palm trees in the oasis seen from below

Actually, visiting the oasis is probably best done in the middle of the day. The tall date palm trees offer a good protection against the sun, and the shadows of the leaves cast on the ground by the bright light from above are beautiful. After meandering through the oasis of Al Ain, I arrive at the western side, near the Al Ain Palace Museum. I walk around it - it is Friday and the museum is still closed - and find an entrance on the southwestern corner. I pass a small mosque, and when I am well inside the peaceful oasis again, a call to prayer fills the air, coming from all sides, competing calls for prayer which get absorbed by the thousands of date palm trees around me. I see a Philippine couple on a bench of date palm tree wood, holding hands on a small square - and they are the only persons I see in the entire oasis until I stumble upon a tour group when I leave.

Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): Date palm trees hanging over a walled alley in the oasis of Al Ain
Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): Path in the date palm tree plantation in the oasis of Al Ain
Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): Falaj running under date palm trees in the oasis of Al Ain
Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): View of a date palm tree from below
Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): Date palm tree with ladder in the oasis
Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): Date palm trees lining the walls of this alley in the oasis
Picture of Al Ain oasis (United Arab Emirates): One of the walled streets inside the oasis of Al Ain

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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