Al Ain – Oases in the Desert

Went down to Al Ain on Friday.  It’s about 120 km south of Dubai – a series of oases near the Oman border.  Used to take 5 days by camel but the Yaris did it in 90 minutes!  Got up and left early to get down there before it became too hot.  Interesting thing about the drive down is that the freeway is tree lined all the way – the plants are regularly watered.  Al Ain is much bigger than I thought it would be – it takes up lots of land and is very spread out.  There is plenty of green grass around the roundabouts and lots of trees.  The royalty used to have their summer palaces here in the desert as it was a dry heat compared with the humid heat on the coast. 

First stop was Green Mubuzzarah.  It’s a large area of rolling green grass hillocks where people go to have picnics and also stay overnight in chalets.  They pump the water up and spread it around everywhere. 

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 Not many birds there but there was this great stork on top of the boathouse.  Either an extremely rare vagrant or someone’s pet. 

 11042008-stork 

After that, up Jebel Hafeet.  There was a busload of Japanese tourists who were riding up on their mountain bikes in the mid-morning heat.  About a 900 metre climb.  The mountain is huge – coming up from the flat plains.  All dry and barren though.  Saw a Sand Partridge (not in a pear tree) up at the top near this spectacular private residence.  

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Back down and off to various parks including spending some time at the Al Ain Waste Water Treatment works.  Sewerage settling ponds are always great for birds with their high nutrient levels.  Grebes and a lovely small group of Stints and Wood Sandpipers there.  It was the middle of the day when I was walking around for about an hour here and although there was a decent wind to cool the temperature down, the sun beat down on my leather hat and cooked my head! 

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Decided then to head back into town for some food and to bring my core temperature down in the Al Ain Mall.  Afterwards headed off to the Al Ain sports complex to see my first ever male Garganey Teal on the golf course lake as well as a Red-necked Phalarope – one of my favourite waders which I only very rarely see.  All I needed was my golf clubs and I would have been in heaven!

Last stop for me in Al Ain was the Al Ain Archeological Park where they have diggings of very old civilisations – about 4000 years old.  Now the parkis  just a family oriented garden.  Needed to go to the loo (big jobs) and took a while to work out that I needed to go in the one with the bloke wearing the Arab dress!  Headed in to find three squat toilets, no loo paper and so had to wash up afterwards the local way.  Note to self – take my shorts off before I go next time otherwise they get wet with the washing up!  And further note to self, don’t shake a local’s left hand.

Back home by about 7.30 pm to pick up Thai take away from Ibn Battuta before a relaxing night in front of the TV. 

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One Response to “Al Ain – Oases in the Desert”

  1. A Visit to Al Ain After the Rain « Luke’s Dubai Adventure Says:

    […] UAE for the Leilat Al Miraj (Ascension of the Prophet). So I decided to head south to Al Ain which I last visited in April. I was not aware that a major storm had gone through the previous evening uprooting trees […]

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