Al Ain is enormous in terms of surface, and after entering the city from the north, it is still a long drive through to reach the city centre. A little to the south of it, it is easy to spot Al Jahili fort, and after parking my car, I decide to first walk around it to appreciate its size and architecture. The fort has been restored recently, using traditional materials, and the result is great. One of the first things to see is the round tower with four levels, all marked by a crenellated circular wall, for which the fort is famous. There are more watchtowers, and when I have done my full tour of the outside of the fort, it is time to admire the two towers alongside the big wooden gate before entering the complex.
First thing to do: visit the visitor centre, where I get a very warm welcome, and all kinds of leaflets and postcards. After watching a video about the meticulous reconstruction of the fort before 2010, I watch the exhibition in honour of Sheikh Zayed, who was born in Al Ain and is the grandfather of the first president of the United Arab Emirates. Walking through the courtyard of Al Jahili fort, I arrive at the other side of the entrance, where a permanent exhibition has been installed about the British explorer, adventurer and photographer Wilfred Thesiger. He crossed the vast desert of the Empty Quarter twice in the 1940s, befriended Sheikh Zayed, and stayed in Al Ain. Called Mubarak bin London by his local friends, he was able to appear like a local himself because he mastered the Arabic language. The black and white photos on display show that, apart from being an adventurer, Thesiger also was a keen photographer, and addicted to the desert and its raw beauty and harsh reality.
It is time to further explore the inside of Al Jahili fort. I walk to the square residential section which has several more circular watchtowers, and a fortified wall. Unfortunately, it is closed to the public for renovation. From here, I walk to the circular tower I have seen before; now, I climb to the second floor. Unfortunately, there is no way further up, and I walk around the tower for views of the two towers of the entrance, the residential section, as well as the courtyard of the fort. I wait until the fort closes, and once I am outside again, the light is much warmer and the colour of the walls has changed from a pale light brown to almost light orange. When I come back the next morning, I again walk around the fort and, with the sun on the other side, enjoy a different light falling over the crenellated walls and towers.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Al Jahili fort (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Al Jahili fort.
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