Immediately in front of the bus station lies the main Al Ain Souk, a long, functional warehouse-style building which is where you’ll find the city’s main meat, fruit and vegetable markets. The fruit and veg section is the prettiest, with Indian traders perched amidst huge piles and produce and a colourful cast of local shoppers, including heavily veiled local Bedouin women in their distinctive metal face masks.
On the edge of the city, Al Ain’s old-fashioned Camel Souk is also worth a visit, although it’s a bit tricky to find. Dozens of camels are lined up here in a series of pens in the open desert, usually attracting a lively crowd of local camel-fanciers most mornings, who come to trade, chat, and drink endless cups of coffee. It’s extremely photogenic, although some of the in-your-face local traders might demand (sometimes extortionate) payment for the pleasure of snapping pictures of their animals – don’t be pressured into handing over money.
To reach the souk, find the roundabout in front of the Hilton hotel and follow the road towards the Oman border at Mazyad. After about three kilometres you’ll see the huge new Bawadi mall on your left. Do a U-turn at the next roundabout, a kilometre or so beyond the mall, and start driving back towards Al Ain. The souk is off the road on your right, about 500m before you get back to the Bawadi mall.