The original settlement of Al Ain grew up around the string of seven oases which dot the area – Al Ain actually means “The Spring” in Arabic. The largest of the seven oases is right in the centre of town, bounding the south side of town between the National Museum and Palace Museum.
Numerous little roads lead into and through the oasis, twisting between lush walled gardens planted with an estimated 150,000-odd date palms, along with the occasional mango, fig, banana and orange tree. The roots of the trees are watered using the traditional “falaj”, an ingenious traditional irrigation system which brings water down from the mountains over a distance of some 30km using a complex network of narrow stone conduits (though they’re only filled with water during the hot summer months).
The oasis is a wonderfully cool and quiet spot from an aimless wander, the silence broken only by the calls to prayer from the two mosques hidden amongst the palms. It’s also incredibly disorienting, however, meaning that you’re unlikely to end up coming out where you went in.