Life in Al Ain: Part 3a- Leisure and Recreation

It’s very easy to clock up 500kms+ per week if you do a school run, combined with shopping, leisure etc, so it makes sense to live near your work, the schools, or the place you will spend most of your time off, be it a mall, a hotel, a park or in my case, the desert.
Here’s some places you may like to visit when you come here.
Jebel HafeetGPS – N24 03.509, E55 46.640

Jebel means mountain, and this is the most imposing landmark in the area.  It rises from the local land level of 250m above sea level to a height of over 1000m, and is a popular place to have a drive up and view Al Ain and Buraimi below.

There’s a three lane carriageway (2 lanes up, 1 down) complete with crash barriers, with lots of car parks to stop and take photos as the road winds its way up the mountain. If you stop at the carparks on the left hand side as you travel upwards, you may be rewarded with the sight of some Egyptian vultures soaring on the thermals.

At the top of the mountain there are two cafes, a recently constructed picnic area and children’s play area.  It’s a great place to go all year round, and is up to 8 degrees cooler than All Ain city.

The Grand Mercure Jebel Hafeet Hotel is near the top, you can read a little about it here; and at the foot of the mountain, you will find

Green Mubuzzarah Park

GPS -N24 06.435, E55 44.852
A popular spot with locals at weekends, this amazing spash of green is a great place to relax.  It has indoor swimming pools which are fed from hot mineral springs, and in accordance with local custom, are in different buildings for men and ladies (and as a bonus, no kids allowed in the ladies’ pool!) . Entry to the pools is 5aed.  There are picnic areas, kiddies playgrounds, a boating lake with a huge fountain, and at the weekends in the cool season there are camel rides and pony trap rides.  The park has a cafe and restaurants too.  Beware though – the stream you see in the picture is fed from a hot spring and the water is incredibly hot!

Jebel Hafeet Tombs

GPS – entry point – N24 02.681, E55 50.498
GPS – tombs -N24 02.696, E55 47.992
On the other side of the mountain there are some ancient tombs, some dating back 5000 years, which have now been restored by ADACH.  These should by rights be in a future blog which will concentrate on historical sites, however we are so close let’s explore.  There is an easy way in, which you could do with a “softroader”, or there’s a rough path in which you definitely need a full 4×4 for.  The entry co-ordinates I have given are for the easy way in, and you should be able to carefully pick your way through established tracks to the tombs.

Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort

GPS – N24 10.754, E55 44.260
is a huge zoo and park, established over 40 years ago in the shadow of Jebel Hafeet.  A great cheap day out for the family – adults 15aed, kids 5aed – it has a massive selection of animals; you would have to spend all day here to see and read about them all.

Everyone’s got their own favourites, mine are the giraffes, and you can see them at the mixed african exhibit, as well as the feeding area (25aed including a cupful of carrots).

Another very popular attraction is the bird house which has shows featuring birds of prey, as well as a penguinarium.  (I thought I’d made up this word,but it turns out there are lots of penguinariums in the world, though I am sure this is the only one in the desert)!

The Al Ain Zoo website is here.  Operating hours vary throughout the year so it’s important to check their opening times before promising your kids a visit!

Wadi Adventure

GPS –  N24 05.682, E55 44.358
Opened earlier this year, Al Ain can now boast a waterpark where you can kayak, raft, surf or just swim.  Good attraction, quite expensive but great for a treat – here’s their website.

and here’s my friend Mike Bryan with his kids Matt and Olivia, indulging in some whitewater rafting in the desert!

 

Now for more mainstream activities – I haven’t provided the co-ords for these as you will have them already from my shopping and hotel blogs.Tenpin Bowling
Al Ain Mall, Bawadi Mall
Cinemas
Grand Al Ain Cineplex, Al Ain Mall
Grand Bawadi, Bawadi Mall
Grand Rotana, Rotana Hotel
Find listings for all the cinemas  here
Kids’ amusement/fun centres
Al Ain Mall
Al Jimi Mall (downstairs at Spash end of the mall)
Bawadi Mall
SouqExtra
Al Foah MallLove to hear from people who have used my co-ordinates to get a better feel of the area – are they helpful and what else would you like me to add?Part 1 – shopping
Part 2 – Hotels
Part 3a – Leisure and Recreation
Part 4 – Officialdom 
Part 5a – A Different World Part A
Part 5b – Local WeddingsBonus –  Further Resouces

 

 

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