Welcome to Al Ain
About two hours east of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain is fed by natural springs and set among oases and plantations, garnering it the nickname 'Garden City'. The birthplace of the United Arab Emirates' founding father Sheikh Zayed was once a vital stop on the caravan route between Oman and the Gulf. Visitors flock to its forts, museums, zoo and smattering of Unesco World Heritage sites. Unlike Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, Al Ain lacks ultramodern skyscrapers and as a result feels more culturally authentic. The fact that it's home to the UAE's highest proportion of Emirati nationals (clocking in at a whopping 30%) also helps. A highlight is the drive up the mountain road snaking to the top of Jebel Hafeet, treating you to sweeping views of the arid splendour that is the Empty Quarter along the way.